US continues to disrupt Shabaab’s attack campaign

US forces continue to disrupt al Qaeda’s attempts to terrorize Somali civilians with improvised explosive attacks. In a strike on Apr. 11, US forces destroyed a Shabaab vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) in the vicinity of Jana Cabdalle, Somalia.

No casualties were mentioned in the US Forces Africa Command (AFRICOM) press statement that was released today.

In the past six months, US forces have thrice interdicted Shabaab car bombs and prevented imminent attacks against civilians in the Somalia capital, Mogadishu. The past four US strikes in Somalia have also targeted Shabaab vehicles.

Despite American efforts to disrupt these assaults, Shabaab regularly targets Somali civilians with car bombs and other improvised explosive devices. Just yesterday, Shabaab bombed a soccer stadium in Barawe, killing at least five. A week ago, Shabaab targeted the capital with a car bomb.

Jana Cabdalle is located in southern Somalia, about 50 km northwest of Kismayo, a port city that was formerly a Shabaab stronghold. The United States previously conducted strikes in this village in Dec. 2017 and Jan. 2018, but did not identify it by name. Jana Cabdalle is also roughly 75 km southwest of Jilib, a known Shabaab safe haven. The United States has concentrated firepower against Shabaab in and around Jilib, both this year and over the entire decade-long air campaign.

Jana Cabdalle, Jilib, and other towns where a number of US airstrikes have taken place, are located in the Jubba River Valley, which is a known safe haven for Shabaab. The US State Department’s Country Reports on Terrorism for 2016 noted that the Jubba River Valley serves as an operational hub, as Shabaab controls “several villages and towns throughout Jubaland region, including Janaale, Jilib, and Kunyo Barow.”

This is the twelfth American strike in Somalia this year, all of which have targeted Shabaab, according to Robyn Mack at AFRICOM Media Relations.

“U.S. forces in cooperation with the government of Somalia, are conducting ongoing counterterrorism operations against al-Shabaab in Somalia to degrade the groups’ ability to recruit, train, and plot terror attacks in Somalia, throughout the region, and against the U.S. homeland,” she added.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal. Alexandra Gutowski is a military affairs analyst at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

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