WATERLOO – A senior Islamic State leader was killed by American forces during an assault operation in northern Somalia.
The operation’s head was identified as Bilal al-Sudani by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin. Al-Sudani is a major member of ISIS’s international network and a facilitator.
According to a statement from Austin, “This action makes the United States and its allies safer and more secure, and it underscores our firm commitment to defending Americans from the threat of terrorism at home and abroad.”
The attack, which was sanctioned by President Joe Biden and took place on Wednesday in a mountainous cave complex in northern Somalia, also resulted in the deaths of about 10 of al-ISIS’s Sudanese fighters, according to senior administration officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
Military sources indicated they had planned for the prospect of taking down al-Sudani, but a hostile force’s response led to his demise.
American servicemen or civilians suffered no losses, according to the officials.
U.S. Africa Command reports that the attack on Wednesday is the third carried out by American soldiers in Somalia since January 20.
Al-Sudani backed ISIS’s growth and activities from his cavern complex, officials said, by contributing money to maintain the organization’s operational capabilities around the globe, including ISIS’s Khorasan branch in Afghanistan, one of the terrorist group’s deadliest branches.
Al-Sudani has a lengthy criminal record in Somalia as a terrorist. He was recognized by the U.S. Treasury Department in 2012 as an ISIS commander before he joined the organization for his assistance in arranging travel for foreign fighters to an al-Shabaab training facility and enabling funding for violent foreign extremists in Somalia.
Al-Sudani, according to officials, had a significant operational and financial role and specialized talents that made him a crucial target for American counterterrorism action.
According to the officials, months of planning and cooperation inside the U.S. government went into the assault operation that killed al-Sudani. The Defense Department briefed Vice President Biden and the other members of his national security team last week when preparations reached a crucial point. Before this week was up, Biden gave the operation his approval.
Americans working in counterterrorism have long been concerned about the region of East Africa, which includes Somalia and Sudan. A group of Arab and other foreign veterans of the Afghan conflict served as Osama bin Laden’s foundation for the Al Qaeda network, which he founded in 1988. He relocated to Sudan two years later, using it as a base to find agents for his new organization. He had previously called Saudi Arabia home.
A number of Islamic State organizers and financial intermediaries with offices in southern Africa were sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury in March 2022 because they were “playing an increasingly central role in facilitating the transfer of funds from the top of the ISIS hierarchy to branches across Africa.”
At the time, Brian Nelson, the Treasury undersecretary, stated that “the United States is working with its African partners, particularly South Africa, to dismantle ISIS financial support networks on the continent.”
Al-Sudani was not one of the people who were sanctioned by the Treasury action. However, Treasury defined him in its release as a U.S.-designated ISIS leader in Somalia who was active in assisting ISIS followers in South Africa to become more organized and attract new members.
According to Nelson, “ISIS has recently tried to increase its influence in Africa by conducting extensive operations in regions with weak government control.” “ISIS branches in Africa rely on local fundraising strategies including theft, extortion of the populace, and kidnapping for ransom, as well as financial backing from the ISIS hierarchy.”