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US special operators kill ISIS leader and 10 others in Somalia

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U.S. Special Operations Forces (SOF) conducted a raid targeting Bilal-al-Sudani, a key ISIS leader in Somalia, killing him and 10 other ISIS fighters. 

The raid was conducted on the night of January 25 and targeted Bilal al-Sudani, who was considered “a terrorist of significance” by the Department of Defense. No exact location was given, except that the raid took place in the mountains of northern Somalia.

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said in a DoD statement that al-Sudani was “an ISIS leader in Somalia and a key facilitator for ISIS’s global network.” The intelligence gathered in the raid will allow the U.S. to better target ISIS terrorists in future operations. 

One administration official told CNN that senior members of President Biden’s national security team were first briefed a “number of months ago” on the intelligence that led to this operation. The president authorized the operation earlier this week.

Bilal-al-Sudani was a key facilitator for ISIS’s global network, according to Secretary Austin. He was “responsible for fostering the growing presence of ISIS in Africa and for funding the group’s operations worldwide, including in Afghanistan,” Austin said.

“No civilians were harmed as a result of this operation. We are grateful to our extraordinary service members as well as our intelligence community and other interagency partners for their support to this successful counterterrorism operation,” Austin added.

One American soldier was slightly wounded by an American military dog when he was bitten during the fighting. There were no other American casualties.

“This action leaves the United States and its partners safer and more secure, and it reflects our steadfast commitment to protecting Americans from the threat of terrorism at home and abroad,” Austin said.

Related: US Airstrike kills 30 al-Shabaab terrorists in Somalia

According to the State Department, the United States Treasury sanctioned Sudani in 2012 for helping foreign fighters travel to an al-Shabaab training camp and for facilitating financing. 

The U.S. special operators were trying to capture Sudani alive, but his security element made that impossible, and Sudani and 10 other Islamist followers were eliminated during the ensuing firefight.

The U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) released only a brief statement on Thursday, which only stated that the U.S. military “conducted a successful counterterrorism operation in Somalia” and that “no civilians were injured or killed.”

While most associate ISIS with Iraq and Syria, the terrorist organization has been expanding into Africa, where it has been trying to rival al-Qaeda for greater influence among Islamist jihadists.

The “violence from militant Islamist groups in Africa has risen 300% over the last decade, with 95% of that increase concentrated in the Western Sahel and Somalia,” according to Homeland Security Advisor Dr. Liz Sherwood-Randall.

ISIS has also murdered hundreds of Christians in their churches in Nigeria. Newsweek journalist, Lela Gilbert, has been covering the plight of Christians targeted by ISIS and other groups in Nigeria and elsewhere giving a voice to the targeted groups.

Feature Image: Marine Raiders with 1st Marine Raider Battalion, U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Special Operations Command, provides security while conducting a simulated night-raid on a warehouse in Los Angeles, California, Sept. 3, 2015. (U.S. Marine Corps Photo by Sgt. Scott A. Achtemeier/Marine Forces Special Operations Command

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Steve Balestrieri