The US military confirmed that it killed Adan Garaar, a senior official in the Amniyat, Shabaab’s intelligence and security branch, in a drone strike that took place on March 12.
“On March 12 at approximately 7:30 a.m. Eastern Time, working from actionable intelligence, US forces using unmanned aircraft struck a vehicle carrying Adan Garaar, a member of al-Shabaab’s intelligence and security wing, in the vicinity of Diinsoor, Somalia,” a US Department of Defense press release stated. “The attack was a success and resulted in the death of Garaar.”
The military described Garaar as “a key operative responsible for coordinating al-Shabaab’s external operations, which target US persons and other Western interests in order to further al Qaeda’s goals and objectives.”
The military had previously confirmed that it launched an airstrike in Somalia on March 12, but did not detail the target of the strike. Local press reports from Somalia indicated that Garaar was indeed the target, and that he likely was killed. [See LWJ report, US targets senior Shabaab intelligence official in airstrike.]
“He posed a major threat to the region and the international community and was connected to the West Gate Mall attack in Nairobi, Kenya. His death has dealt another significant blow to the al Shabaab terrorist organization in Somalia,” the statement concluded.
Garaar is the fourth senior Shabaab official killed by US forces since September 2014, and the third high-ranking official in the Amniyat killed since December 2014.
The US killed Ahmed Abdi Godane, the previous leader of Shabaab who was also known as Sheikh Mukhtar Abu Zubayr, in an airstrike on Sept. 1, 2014. Several of the group’s leaders and commanders were also killed along with Godane, who was also known as Sheikh Mukhtar Abu Zubayr.
Background on the Amniyat and Shabaab’s official ties to al Qaeda
The Amniyat is a key organization within Shabaab. It is instrumental in executing suicide attacks inside Somalia as well as in Kenya and other African nations, conducting assassinations, providing logistics and support for operations, and integrating the group’s local and regional commands. A top Amniyat official known as “Hassan” is said to have received direct instructions from al Qaeda emir Ayman al Zawahiri on training operatives in Africa. [See LWJ report, UN warned of Shabaab ally’s ‘new and more complex operations’ in Kenya, and Threat Matrix report, Zawahiri’s man in Shabaab’s ‘secret service’.]
Shabaab has conducted several major attacks outside of Somalia, including the twin suicide bombings at two cafes in Kampala, Uganda in 2010; the suicide assault and siege of the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya in 2013, and a dual suicide attack that targeted western troops in Djibouti in 2014.
The Amniyat is also responsible for protecting Shabaab’s emir, and in the past it has carried out executions for the group’s leader. Among those killed by the Amniyat is Omar Hammami, the American Shabaab commander who clashed with the group’s leadership.
Shabaab is al Qaeda’s official branch in Somalia and greater East Africa. The group openly swore allegiance to al Qaeda in 2011 and again in 2012, but hid its ties to the group for years prior to the announcement. [See LWJ reports, Al Qaeda advises Shabaab to keep low profile on links, attack US interests; Shabaab formally joins al Qaeda; Somalia’s Shabaab vows allegiance to new al Qaeda emir Zawahiri; and Bin Laden told Shabaab to hide al Qaeda ties.]
Shabaab’s new emir, Sheikh Ahmad Umar, reaffirmed the group’s allegiance to al Qaeda upon taking command of the group.
“The leadership also renews its pledge of allegiance to al Qaeda and its leader, Sheikh Ayman al Zawahiri, may Allah protect him,” Umar said.
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