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