The Libyan National Army (LNA) claims to have captured Hisham al-Ashmawy, a former Egyptian officer who defected to the jihadists’ cause. Ashmawy has been accused of orchestrating jihadist operations in both Egypt and Libya. The Egyptian government alleges that he has been involved in a series of terrorist attacks targeting officials.
This is the first strike since early June, when the United States targeted both the Islamic State and Al Qaeda in separate strikes in Bani Walid.
In 2017, LWJ reported unprecedented levels of airstrikes in Somalia and Yemen. Thus far in 2018, the United States has sustained its high strike tempo in Somalia and improved transparency on its air campaign in Yemen. Strikes in Pakistan have leveled off, however press restrictions make tracking operations there difficult. In Libya, the U.S. has targeted jihadists sparingly.
The United States has conducted three counterterrorism strikes in Libya in 2018.
Since late April, the Islamic State has claimed a string of operations targeting elections in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya. The group’s spokesman, Abu al-Hasan al-Muhajir, threatened Iraq’s upcoming election on May 12 and the jihadists are carrying out operations accordingly.
The US military announced that it killed Musa Abu Dawud, a high-ranking al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb leader in Libya, in an airstrike last weekend. Dawud is an established jihadist who has been in the fight with the GSPC and AIQM for at least three decades.
The pattern of operations in 2017 in what the Obama administration used to call areas outside of active hostilities indicates that the US will continue the reinvigorated air campaign in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, and Libya in the coming year.
The United States conducted two strikes against the Islamic State in central Libya, its southernmost strikes in the Libyan air campaign.