US hits Islamic State in Northern Somalia

The US military launched its second strike against the Islamic State’s network in Northern Somalia in the past two weeks. The previous raid earlier this month killed the deputy leader of the Islamic State in Somalia.

US Africa Command reported that the April 26 airstrike targeted the Islamic State fighters as they “staged in a remote location in Northern Somalia.” The attack took place in the Golis Mountains, a traditional safe haven for the Islamic State.

“Removing these extremists impacts ISIS-Somalia’s ability to terrorize innocent Somalis in the region and it creates confusion within the terrorist network,” Maj. Gen. Gregg Olson, AFRICOM’s director of operations, said.

The previous attack, which took place on April 14, killed Abdulhakim Dhuqub, the group’s deputy emir. Dhuqub was killed in Xiriiro, which is approximately 36 miles east of the Golis Mountains.

AFRICOM’s air campaign has primarily focused on Shabaab, al Qaeda’s branch in East Africa, which has been targeted 31 times this year. Before the April 14 strike against Dhuqub, AFRICOM had not targeted the Islamic State since Nov. 2017. AFRICOM hit the Islamic State four times that month.

While the Islamic State’s network in Somalia is dangerous, it is dwarfed by Shabaab, which currently controls 25 percent of the country. Shabaab and the Islamic State are bitter rivals, and the former ruthlessly pursues the later in an effort to suppress it.

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

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