Drones

Drone Strike in Somalia as US War on Terror By Another Name Expands

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predator drone
Blyzz/flickr

A U.S. drone strike in Somalia reportedly targeted the chief of Al-Shabaab, Ahmed Godane, who is believed to be responsible for the Nairobi mall attack last year.

Al-Shabaab is a militant Islamist group in Somalia that affiliated with Al-Qaeda in 2012, after about six years of U.S. intervention including a joint Ethiopian-U.S. invasion of Somalia in 2006 that contributed to the Al-Shabaab, the youth wing of the Islamic Courts Union (ICU), breaking away from the ICU and embracing Islamist extremism even further.

Reuters reports on the drone strike:

The U.S. Department of Defense said late on Monday that its forces had carried out the operation against al Shabaab and would provide more information "when appropriate". The Somali government and al Shabaab officials could not be immediately reached for comment.

"There was an air strike at a base where senior members of al Shabaab had a meeting last night," a senior intelligence official who gave his name as Ahmed told Reuters on Tuesday.

"So far [al-Shabaab's leader Ahmed] Godane's death is a strong rumour that may or may not turn to be true. What we know is that the militants were bombarded. However, it is difficult to know how many of them or who particularly died," he added.

Although this is the most prominent U.S. drone strike in Somalia, it's not the first. According to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, there have been between 6 and 9 drone strikes in Somalia over the last seven years.

In related news,  the U.S. is planning to open a second drone base in Niger. In 2012, the Washington Post reported on a vast military intelligence network being set up by the U.S. across Africa: the military operates surveillance planes disguised as civilian aircraft as well as drones from remote airstrips in Africa. The U.S. also has bases in Mauritania, Djibouti (used for forward operations in the Middle East), Uganda (where U.S. military personnel continue to hunt Joseph Kony), Ethiopia, Kenya, and the Seychelles.

Although the Obama Administration may have dropped the terminology of the "war on terror" and admits to not having a strategy against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), it certainly continues to wage a war on terror.

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  1. So, was this authorized then by the AUMF against “terror”? Or not? That’s some AUMF.

    1. It was authorized by Congress’ unwillingness to challenge the President’s authority.

      1. Kind of defeats the whole point of the system, doesn’t it? Guess we’re going to have to bring back tar and feathering after all.

    2. Relevant

      “…CFR national security expert John B. Bellinger says the law is in need of a significant update. “The 2001 AUMF is more than ten years old now and getting a little long in the tooth?still tied to the use of force against the people who planned, committed, and or aided those involved in 9/11,” he says. “The farther we get from [targeting] al-Qaeda [e.g., al-Shabaab in Somalia], the harder it is to squeeze [those operations] into the AUMF.””

      From what I understand, the official list of “designated terror groups” by the State Dept include specific ‘al Q affiliates’ which are able to be directly targeted under the AUMF.

      However, groups like ISIS which are avowedly ‘dis-affiliated’ are not; which is partly why the US needed to pull out the claim of the Convention Against Genocide to re-start hostilities in Iraq (throwing in a few other rationales as well for when that wears thin)

      I also believe that Al-Shabab has been fighting against UN forces in Somalia, and therefore US operations there may be under partly multinational auspices.

      Its a good question though, and one you don’t find any of the major media outlets asking.

      (*despite many in the media have previously rended their shirts over the ‘illegality’ of the Bush Admins unilateral uses of force)

      1. ‘Course one question is – how is a group that didn’t exist 2001 be tied to a group that planned/aided 9/11?

        1. Apparently they enthusiastically joined themselves to the list in 2012

          Somalia’s Al-Shabaab rebel movement has tightened its ties to the al Qaeda terror network, with its leader pledging loyalty to al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri.

          The Islamist militants control much of southern Somalia and have long been affiliated with al Qaeda. But in an audio message posted on Al-Shabaab’s website Thursday, the Somali group’s leader, Mukhtar Abu al-Zubair, tells al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri that his followers “will march with you as loyal soldiers.”

          FWIW, the ‘war against al-qaeda’ had long included Somalia and Yemen as ‘bases of operations’ for Al-Q writ-large

          1. The AUMF was written in past tense. The AUMF give no authorization to kill those who joined Al-Q after 9/11.

            a) IN GENERAL- That the President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons.

            1. Do I look like a lawyer for the Obama admin?

              I’m just sharing what i read. If you want similar links-o-plenty on the topic of ‘legal authorization for targeted strikes against terrorist groups’, see the CFR link in my first comment.

              but as far as I can tell, Al-shabab is being treated as no-different than Al-Q itself as far as the AUMF goes, no matter how you try and finely read the thing

              1. Wasn’t directed at you, but at those you cite.

            2. also –

              the UN angle mentioned above is also relevant. i don’t know under what legal framework they claim the campaign against al-shabab falls under, but i’d guess they could use whichever they feel is convenient

              its not a new thing in any case

              This provides some more specifics

              ” In 2008, the US Government designated al-Shabaab as a Foreign Terrorist Organization under Section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (as amended) and as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist entity under Section 1(b) of Executive Order 13224 (as amended).

              This article offers some wider view of the Somalia policy in context… also including it in the list of “‘how Obama likes to ‘wage war’ by airstrike'” without every actually having any kind of ‘strategy’

      2. I still don’t think the AUMF against terror was a valid declaration of war. It’s too vague and open-ended and strikes me more in the vein of an improper delegation of power.

        1. If you stamped the words “Declaration of War” on top of it I wouldn’t have a problem with it. Provided it was actually followed to the letter. (i.e you only targeted those responsible for 911)

          War need not be against a nation-state, but it cannot be against a tactic or a concept either. It must be against a specific group.

          1. it cannot be against a tactic or a concept either

            Or a specific class of substances (e.g. War on Drugs).

        2. “Declaring War” is so 1812

          No one does that shit anymore.

          1. Even slow joe biden says the AUMF is a declaration of war, so it is just semantics.

            1. The AUMF for Iraq, sure. Even the one against terror if it’s read narrowly. But it isn’t being read that way.

              1. I think another way of saying it which is more to the point, is that Congress has simply abrogated its responsibilities entirely, and now defers entirely to the executive branch in the use of force.

                Which is bullshit. They hide behind these ‘continuing resolutions’ so no one will ever find themselves again having to vote up/down on a specific bad-idea like Iraq.

                1. Congress refusing to check the executive and illegally handing over legislative power to the executive is in no way a horrific danger to the republic. I mean, look at Rome–the Senate and other assemblies were around for centuries, keeping all of those emperors in check.

  2. The upcoming movie Predator Down isn’t going to be what you think.

    1. Well, hopefully it will be better than ‘Predators’.

  3. Mother. Fuckers.
    ISIL beheads Sotloff.

    1. How do they “release” videos like this? youtube?

  4. At least no ROADZ were damaged.

  5. This administration really hates libertarians.

  6. Well, to be fair, I’m sure the US would have no problem with Canada (or even Cuba) carrying out drone strikes against bad guys on US soil.

  7. A U.S. drone strike in Somalia reportedly targeted the chief of Al-Shabaab, Ahmed Godane, who is believed to be responsible for the Nairobi mall attack last year.

    And why, exactly, are we doing the hunting’ and killin’?

    1. And who, exactly, is doing the believin’?

  8. I for one really hate that these intentional killings are called “drone” strikes, as if there is only some flying machine out there just killing people. There are PEOPLE controlling these aircraft and these same people decide to fire the missiles. calling them drone strikes is BS.

    1. So saying someone was shot in a drive-by is equally invalid because it too identifies the tactic and the weapon, but not the attacker?

      The drone is the weapon, the tactic is a drone strike. Yes, someone pulled the trigger (or rather, pushed the button), but that doesn’t invalidate the language.

      1. The language in this case is meant to sanitize targeting killings. It’s an assassination program, a concept the US public in the past has been a little squishy about. Drone Strike, however is antiseptic, clean, tech-y, and people don’t respond emotionally to it the same way as Targeted Assassination or the like. Drone Strikes are like rain or traffic jams, maybe unfortunate, but what can you do, eh?

        1. The squishy part of using these weapons is whether or not you are actually at war with the people you are using them on, or the permission of the country whose airspace you are violating.

          1. We are at war with an idea and wrote ourselves a permission slip to violate anyone’s territory if they harbor people with the idea so, no problems.

              1. It got infected with the same Living Virus the Constitution did?

                1. Yep. And it will only change when enough people give enough of a shit to stand up and say enough.

                  It will happen eventually. But the longer it’s put off, the worse the fix must be.

              2. “necessary and appropriate”

                That’s it, right there.

                /derp

        2. So would it really make a difference if this were a manned aircraft, or even a SEAL Team doing the killing, instead of a UAV being controlled remotely? Some people need killin’, and it doesn’t really matter what technology we use to kill them.

          1. Who decides who needs killing and where do they get such authorization?

            1. You’re just jealous because the machines are taking over your job.

              ‘Course, back when we actually put people in the planes, well that shit cost real money and there as always the chance the plane could be shot down and embarrass the US, so we put some real thought into whether or not the dude (and his family) was worth dropping a bomb on.

              Nowadays assassinations are cheap, like 22LR. Just head out to the backyard and plink a few cans.

              1. I’m more than happy to let a drone do my job. Kinda like not getting shot at.

                The problem is we’ve allowed the executive to convince the entire nation that it’s okay to kill people so long as no Americans are put at risk in the process. Furthermore, so long as no Americans are at risk, we don’t need to follow the Constitution to do so.

                The argument is a complete non sequitur, but it seems to be working.

                But you are correct, the whole putting Americans at risk thingy, did have an impact in the decision to kill folks. without due process.

      2. My point is this exactly. This is the same sort of obfuscation that gun control advocates use, calling things handgun violence or an assault weapon shooting. It removes the attacker by a degree and refocuses the narrative on the weapon.

    2. To be fair, the people controlling the weapon are not the people deciding to fire the missiles.

  9. The Fascists were conservative because they pursued policies of militaristic nationalism. Contrast that with the policies pursued by the modern Democratic Party of the USA, which …

    um …

    Let me get back to you on that.

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