Two separate strikes carried out by U.S. forces in northeastern Somalia on Friday killed “several” members of Islamic State, US Africa Command said in a statement.
The strikes were the first launched by the United States against Islamic State targets in Somalia. According to FDD’s Long War Journal, the U.S. has struck local al-Qaeda affiliate al-Shabaab 15 times in 2017, 13 times since June, after the Trump administration loosened restrictions on the use of force against the jihadi group in March.
“The first strike occurred at approximately midnight local Somalia time with the second separate strike occurring at approximately 11 a.m. local Somalia time,” AFRICOM said, adding that they were carried out in coordination with the Federal Government of Somalia.
“U.S. forces will continue to use all authorized and appropriate measures to protect Americans and to disable terrorist threats. This includes partnering with AMISOM [African Union Mission in Somalia] and Somali National Security Forces (SNSF); targeting terrorists, their training camps and safe havens throughout Somalia, the region and around the world,” AFRICOM said.
The results of the strikes are being assessed, according to the statement.
Islamic State in Somalia
Jama Mohamed Qurshe, the chairman of the town of Qandala in the semi-autonomous region of Puntland in northeastern Somalia, told VOA Somali that six missiles hit an ISIS base in Buqa village, around 60km south of Qandala.
“According to the information we are getting from the ground, six missiles hit the militants’ base in the mountainous area. Local residents and pastoralists were shocked and fled from the area,” Qurshe said.
SOMALIA:Reports that Suspected US airstrikes hit ISIS positions in Buqa area, North of Somalia. Abdikadir Mumin thought to be the target.
— Hussein Mohamed 🇸🇴 (@HussienM12) November 3, 2017
The pro-Islamic State faction in northeastern Somalia, Abnaa ul-Calipha, known as Islamic State in Somalia, is led by Abdiqadir Mumin (Abd al-Qādir Mū‘min) who fled the U.K. in 2010 amid an MI5 investigation into his radicalising sermons.
Mumin became an al-Shabaab cleric, but in 2015 he pledged baya to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
Shabaab’s Amniyat internal security force has hunted pro-ISIS fighters, reportedly detaining or killing dozens. In June, an Abnaa ul-Calipha defector told Puntland authorities there are only around 70 people remaining in the group.
In 2016, the U.S. State Department listed Mumin as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist.
Regional official claims strikes targeted pro-Islamic State fighters in Buqo village southeast of Qandala, Puntland https://t.co/vLY4SYr6Pg
— Harun Maruf (@HarunMaruf) November 3, 2017