US Forces in Somalia

Library image of an armed Reaper drone, December 2019 (US Air Force/ Senior Sergeant Haley Stevens)

Belligerent
Country
Somalia
start date
end date
Airwars Grading
Belligerent Assessment
Strike Status
Strike Type

Incident Code

USSOM001-C

Incident date

January 7, 2007

Location

Ras Kamboni (possibly vicinity of Lag Badana Bushbush National Park), Lower Juba, Somalia

Geolocation

-1.649594, 41.563289 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Neighbourhood/area level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Neighbourhood/area

Airwars assessment

Up to eight civilians were reportedly killed as the US carried out an airstrike against al Qaeda leaders in Ras Kamboni, Lower Juba, international and local sources reported.

Shortly after Ethiopian forces had invaded Somalia in late December 2006, the US carried out its first known combat operation within Somalia since the September 11 2001 attacks. Specifically, a JSOC AC-130 gunship attacked a suspected al Qaeda convoy under cover of darkness, after tracking it with a Predator drone. According to the Washington Post, the strike was launched from a US military base in Djibouti and based on both CIA intelligence and on information provided by Ethiopian and Kenyan forces operating in the border area.

Somali government spokesperson Abdul Rashid Hidig told the New York Times that two civilians were killed, although an Islamist spokesperson said “many” nomadic tribesmen died, including many children. US Ambassador to Kenya Michael Rannenberger denied any civilian casualties in an interview with the BBC. Pentagon spokesperson Bryan Whitman told CBS News the strike was based on intelligence “that led us to believe we had principal al Qaeda leaders in an area where we could identify them and take action against them.” But another US official told the Washington Post: “Frankly, I don’t think we know who we killed.”

Up to a dozen militants were among those reportedly killed. US officials, speaking anonymously, named various al Qaeda members as potential targets including Aden Hashi Eyro or AyroFazul Abdullah Mohammed, and Sudanese explosives expert Abu Talha al Sudani (aka Tariq Abdullah). Somali officials instead said that 50 people died in the attacks – “mostly” Al Qaeda fighters.

A team of Ethiopian military personnel with one US Special Forces operative landed at the scene within hours and confirmed eight dead and three injured, “all of whom were described as being armed”, the New York Times reported the following month.  Ayro’s bloodied passport was found, leading them to believe he had been wounded or killed, the report added – although Ayro was later targeted in another action  (SOM008.) Fazul Abdullah Mohammed was also reportedly the target of SOM002 and SOM005.

A later report in the Daily Mail claimed four British citizens were killed in the attack. Five days after the incident, a number of individuals surrendered to Kenyan authorities, including a number of Swedish citizens; Fazul’s wife Mariam Ali Mohammed; and eight children. They were deported to Mogadishu and then seized by the Ethiopian intelligence service, who transported them to Addis Ababa where they were held for ten weeks. Finally, the Los Angeles Times reported that the raid killed between eight to 10 alleged al Qaeda affiliates.

According to several reports and Pentagon spokesperson Bryan Whitman, the targets were those believed to be responsible for the 1998 US embassy bombings, which killed 225 people. Al Sudani was also reportedly “al Qaeda’s leader in East Africa” and was involved in the 2002 Paradise Hotel bombing in Kenya that killed 13 people.

The local time of the incident is unknown.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Counter-Terrorism Action (Ground)
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    2 – 8
  • (2–5 children)
  • Civilians reported injured
    2–3
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Known attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al Qaeda in East Africa
  • Belligerents reported killed
    8–45
  • Belligerents reported injured
    3

Sources (17) [ collapse]

Geolocation notes (1) [ collapse]

Reports of the incident mention that the strike targeted a convoy of which some vehicles were stuck in the mud, near the port city of Ras Kamboni. The convoy was supposedly seeking deeper cover in the bush near the Kenyan border. One source noted that the strike took place on a remote island off of Ras Kamboni. Given the targets were in land vehicles, it seems unlikely they would have been on an island. However, the shape of the peninsula to the South of Ras Kamboni does look similar to an island, and may have been described as such. The information stating the vehicles got stuck in the mud whilst seeking shelter in bush areas could suggest the forest area to the West / South West of Ras Kamboni. This is also close to the Kenyan border, which is corroborated by information within the source documentation. The coordinates for this area are: -1.649594, 41.563289.

  • The forest area just south of the port town Ras Kamboni, near the Kenyan border (marked in yellow)

    Imagery:
    Google Earth

United States Armed Forces Assessment:

  • Known belligerent
    United States Armed Forces
  • United States Armed Forces position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Original strike reports

United States Armed Forces

"WASHINGTON, Jan. 9, 2007 – A U.S. Air Force AC-130 gunship attack in Somalia on Jan. 7 targeted senior terrorist leaders, a senior Pentagon official confirmed today.
Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman told reporters the attack targeted "what we believe to be principal al Qaeda leadership" operating in the southern part of Somalia."

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Counter-Terrorism Action (Ground)
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    2 – 8
  • (2–5 children)
  • Civilians reported injured
    2–3
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Known attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al Qaeda in East Africa
  • Belligerents reported killed
    8–45
  • Belligerents reported injured
    3

Sources (17) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM002-C

Incident date

January 8–9, 2007

Location

Hayo, Lower Juba, Somalia

Geolocation

0.433798, 41.816058 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Village level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Village

Airwars assessment

According to international and local reports, up to 31 civilians, including at least one child, were killed as the town of Hayi or Xayo was subjected to either US or Ethiopian-waged airstrikes.

Heavy civilian casualties were reported in airstrikes on Hayi near Afmadow, 250km northwest of Ras Kamboni, and other parts of southern Somalia, in confusing reports which may conflate activity by US and other forces.

An elder told Reuters that 22 to 27 people had been killed, while a Somali politician told CBS News that 31 civilians “including a newlywed couple” had been killed by two helicopters in Hayi, 30 miles from Afmadow. “The U.S. military is ready to carry out more strikes, CBS News national security correspondent David Martin reports. But whether it does will depend on getting good intelligence on the whereabouts of any al Qaeda operatives left alive. A Somali lawmaker said 31 civilians, including a newlywed couple, died in Tuesday’s assault by two helicopters near Afmadow, a town in a forested area close to the Kenyan border. The report could not be independently verified.  A Somali Defense Ministry official described the helicopters as American, but witnesses told The Associated Press they could not make out identification markings on the craft. Washington officials had no comment on the helicopter strike.”

Mohamed Mahmud Burale told AP that at least four civilians were killed on Monday evening [January 8th] in Hayi, including his four-year-old son.

AP China Daily cited a US military official who said that “Tuesday’s strike was probably carried out by Ethiopia since the aircraft were identified as Russian-made Hind helicopter gunships like those used by the Ethiopian military.”

Ethiopia denied any responsibility, according to China Daily. The Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi said Ethiopia and the US have been cooperating on intelligence, and that most of the information has come from the Americans. He also said the Ethiopians did not provide any intelligence that led to Monday’s airstrike.”

However, AP China Daily also referred to Abdirizak Hassan, the Somali president’s chief of staff, who said at least three US airstrikes had been launched since Monday  January 8th. Reports described al Qaeda operatives as the targets of the US strikes.

The local time of the incident is unknown.

  • Son of Mohamed Mahmud Burale 4 years old male killed

Summary

  • Strike status
    Contested strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Counter-Terrorism Action (Ground)
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    4 – 31
  • (1 child1 woman1 man)
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Contested
    Competing claims of responsibility e.g. multiple belligerents, or casualties also attributed to ground forces.
  • Suspected attackers
    United States Armed Forces, Ethiopian Military Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al Qaeda in East Africa

Sources (5) [ collapse]

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention the village of Xayo (or Hayo), for which the coordinates are: -0.433798, 41.816058. Due to limited information and satellite imagery availble to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.

United States Armed Forces Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    United States Armed Forces
  • United States Armed Forces position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Ethiopian Military Forces Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    Ethiopian Military Forces
  • Ethiopian Military Forces position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Summary

  • Strike status
    Contested strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Counter-Terrorism Action (Ground)
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    4 – 31
  • (1 child1 woman1 man)
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Contested
    Competing claims of responsibility e.g. multiple belligerents, or casualties also attributed to ground forces.
  • Suspected attackers
    United States Armed Forces, Ethiopian Military Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al Qaeda in East Africa

Sources (5) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM003-C

Incident date

January 9, 2007

Location

Xayo, Garer, Bankajirow and Badmadow, Ras Kambooni, Lower Juba, Somalia

Geolocation

-0.491496, 41.699897 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Subdistrict level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Subdistrict

Airwars assessment

Several people, possibly civilians, were left wounded as US airstrikes hit four towns near Ras Kamboni, including a terrorist training camp on Badmadow island, local and international media reported. Sources added that up to ten al Qaeda members were also killed. The strikes came just two days after the US-launched AC-130 attack in Ras Kamboni, Jubaland.

US officials denied to the Los Angeles Times that both actions were the work of US forces and blamed Ethiopian air attacks, although this is contradicted by a January 12 2007 US secret cable obtained by WikiLeaks, which refers to a “US military … strike Jan. 9 against members of the East Africa Al Qaeda cell believed to be on the run in a remote area of Somalia near the Kenyan border.”

A US intelligence official, speaking anonymously, told AP that five to ten people targeted by the strike were believed to be associated with Al Qaeda. The US military’s main target on the island was thought to include the senior al Qaeda leader in East Africa and an al Qaeda operative wanted for his involvement in the 1998 bombings of two American embassies in Africa, according to CBS.

Although reports suggested he had been killed, he was also the target of SOM001 and SOM005. The official said a small number of others present, perhaps four or five and posssibly civilians, were wounded. Somalia Transitional Government spokesperson Abdirahman Dinari said it was not known how many people were killed, ‘but we understand there were a lot of casualties. Most were Islamic fighters.’

The local time of the incident is unknown.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Civilians reported injured
    4–5
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Known attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected attacker
    Ethiopian Military Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al Qaeda in East Africa
  • Belligerents reported killed
    5–10
  • Belligerents reported injured
    4–5

Sources (4) [ collapse]

Geolocation notes (1) [ collapse]

Reports of the incident mention that the raid targeted four towns in an area close to Ras Kambooni: Hayo/Xayo (0.43428, 41.814461), Garer (location unknown), Bankajirow (location unknown) and Badmadowe (-1.262261, 41.815402). Generic coordinates for this area are: -0.491496, 41.699897. Due to limited information and satellite imagery available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.

  • Hayo/Xayo and Badmadowe near Ras Kambooni, close to the border with Kenya (marked in black)

    Imagery:
    Google Earth

United States Armed Forces Assessment:

  • Known belligerent
    United States Armed Forces
  • United States Armed Forces position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Original strike reports

United States Armed Forces

LA Times, January 12th, 2007:
"None of the three most-wanted Al Qaeda suspects believed to be hiding in southern Somalia were killed by a U.S. airstrike this week, a senior U.S. official here said Thursday.
"The three high-value targets are still of intense interest to us," said the official, who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak on the record."

Ethiopian Military Forces Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    Ethiopian Military Forces
  • Ethiopian Military Forces position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Civilians reported injured
    4–5
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Known attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected attacker
    Ethiopian Military Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al Qaeda in East Africa
  • Belligerents reported killed
    5–10
  • Belligerents reported injured
    4–5

Sources (4) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM004-C

Incident date

January 23, 2007

Location

Waldena, Lower Juba, Somalia

Geolocation

0.074253, 41.120546 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Subdistrict level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Subdistrict

Airwars assessment

Up to eight people – some civilians – and one al Qaeda member, were killed as a US drone reportedly targeted, and later captured, a militant leader in Waldena.

A fresh JSOC AC-130 strike in Somalia, reportedly operating from an airbase in eastern Ethiopia, targeted Ahmed Madobe, a deputy of ICU leader Hassan Turki. Madobe survived the attack but was wounded and captured, he later told The Nation’s Jeremy Scahill. His eight companions, who Madobe said included men and women ‘on the run’ with him, were all killed. It is unclear whether all of the the eight victims were civilians. Madobe told the Nation:

“At around 4am we woke up to perform the dawn prayers, and that’s when the planes started to hit us. The entire airspace was full of planes. There was AC-130, helicopters and fighter jets. The sky was full of strikes. They were hitting us, pounding us with heavy weaponry.”

At around 10am, he added, Ethiopian and US forces landed by helicopter and captured him. Somalia Report said the attack was on an al Qaeda supply convoy, and ‘follow-up operations’ confirmed the strike killed Tariq Abdullah.

A single source claims an SAS unit entered Somalia with members of US Delta Force (part of JSOC) to identify the remains of British and other foreign fighters allegedly killed in this event. The joint mission took DNA samples from 50 exhumed bodies and four British citizens were identified, the report claimed.

A leaked US State Department cable obtained by Wikileaks also later confirmed this event: “[Somali Trasnsitional Government Prime Minister] Meles termed the second AC-130 gunship strike on January 23 as “terrific.” The targets were hit, and there were no civilian casualties. The problem was that in less than 24 hours after the strike, the Washington Post published a report on it, clearly showing there is no “opsec” on these military operations, he said. (NOTE: The press leak comes at a very sensitive time. PM Meles is hosting the African Union Summit, which will attract over 30 heads of state to select a new AU Assembly chair. END NOTE.) The headlines on Somalia are not diplomacy and peace-building, but U.S. military operations. This has caused the Arab League and European Union, as well as some African states, to question/weaken support for IGASOM and peace-building in Somalia, the Prime Minister remarked.”

The incident occured at approximately 4:00 am local time.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    2 – 8
  • (2–3 women)
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Known attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al Qaeda in East Africa
  • Belligerents reported killed
    5–9
  • Belligerents reported injured
    1

Sources (9) [ collapse]

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention that the strike took place near the border village Waldena. Various mapping sources point to different areas for this village but were not conclusive about its location. The village should be somewhere in this area between the towns Dhobley and Hosingo: 0.074253, 41.120546. Due to limited information and satellite imagery available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.

United States Armed Forces Assessment:

  • Known belligerent
    United States Armed Forces
  • United States Armed Forces position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Original strike reports

United States Armed Forces

Washington Post, January 24th, 2017:

"The United States launched an airstrike in Somalia against suspected terrorist targets _ the second such attack this month, defense officials said Wednesday.
The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the action was carried out in secret, provided few details about the strike by an Air Force AC-130 gunship earlier this week and were uncertain whether the intended target was killed.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    2 – 8
  • (2–3 women)
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Known attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al Qaeda in East Africa
  • Belligerents reported killed
    5–9
  • Belligerents reported injured
    1

Sources (9) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM005-C

Incident date

June 1, 2007

Location

Bargaal, Bari, Somalia

Geolocation

11.285364, 51.076189 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Town level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Town

Airwars assessment

The destroyer USS Chafee, sailing off the coast of Somalia, fired ‘more than a dozen rounds from its 5-inch gun’ on militants in Bargal, north Somalia. The New York Times also reported that cruise missiles were fired. Somali government spokesmen claimed the strikes were launched after around 35 heavily armed militants landed on the coast near Bargal and attacked local forces.

The New York Times and analyst Micah Zenko reported that a small number of US operatives – working alongside Somali forces to hunt high-value targets believed to be among the militants – came under fire, prompting the missile launch, and enabling the US and Ethiopian troops to escape. Fazul Abdullah Mohammed, the suspected mastermind of the 1998 embassy bombings, was among the targets, according to MSNBC and Zenko. The strike killed eight to twelve alleged militants, reportedly including men from the UK, US, Eritrea, Sweden and Yemen according to the Daily Telegraph. Five militants were also captured, a Somali official told the Chicago Tribune. The US operatives comprised three counterterrorism officials who were “investigating the computers that the militants were carrying,” Hassan Dahir, the vice-president of Puntland, told the New York Times.

In 2013 it emerged that Yemeni Mansur al Bayhani was killed in this attack. He was one of 23 al Qaeda members who had escaped from prison on Yemen in 2006, according to author and Yemen expert Gregory Johnsen’s book The Last Refuge. Al Bayhani had turned himself in to the Yemen authorities and had sworn not to carry out any attacks in Yemen. Several of the 23 escapees went on to found al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

There are no known allegations of civilian harm from this incident. The Chicago Tribune cited  a local government official, who said that no civilians were injured by the strikes as the area was uninhabited.

The local time of the incident is unknown.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike and/or Artillery
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Known attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al Qaeda in East Africa
  • Belligerents reported killed
    8–12

Sources (9) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (2) [ collapse]

  • The USS Chafee fires its 5 inch gun on a training exercise (US Navy/ Specialist Seaman Sean Furey/Flickr)
  • 'Fazul Abdullah Mohammed, a suspected terrorist wanted in connection with the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Nairobi, is shown in a photo released by the FBI on Oct. 10th 2001 in Washington, DC.'

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention that the strike targeted a mountainous area around the town of Bargaal. There is a mountain range just west of the town, however Airwars was unable to verify what area of the mountain range was struck. The coordinates for the town Bargaal are: 11.285364, 51.076189.

United States Armed Forces Assessment:

  • Known belligerent
    United States Armed Forces
  • United States Armed Forces position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Original strike reports

United States Armed Forces

Stars and Stripes, June 5th, 2007:

"A senior Defense official confirmed Tuesday that the USS Chafee, based out of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, fired more than a dozen rounds from its 5-inch gun during the strike."

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike and/or Artillery
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Known attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al Qaeda in East Africa
  • Belligerents reported killed
    8–12

Sources (9) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM006-C

Incident date

March 3, 2008

Location

Dhoobley, Lower Juba, Somalia

Geolocation

0.411429, 41.008691 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Town level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Town

Airwars assessment

Up to six civilians were killed and as many as eight wounded as the US fired at least one and as many as three cruise missiles at Dhobley, a town in southern Somalia four miles from the Kenyan border, local and international sources reported.

Pentagon spokesperson Bryan Whitman told AFP: “On March 2, the US conducted an attack against a known al Qaeda terrorist in southern Somalia.”

The Long War Journal reported the strike targeted Ras Kamboni Brigades leader Hassan Turki and al Qaeda leader Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan. He was a member of al Qaeda’s ruling Shura Council and reportedly controlled the group’s East Africa cells. The US had put a $25m bounty on his head. Despite anonymous officials claiming it was a cruise missile strike, an Islamist spokesperson and locals said the town was bombed and civilian targets hit in an attack carried out by a US AC-130 gunship. As Monsters and Critics reported: “‘I woke up to loud blasts and flashing lights that shook my doors and windows. Airplanes were flying at a low altitude and were firing. I ran outside and hid under trees,’ said Saed Abdulle, an elder in Dobley, which is just north of the border with Kenya.”

There were conflicting reports of casualties in the strike. A local elder, Abdullahi Sheikh Duale, said four civilians were killed. Meanwhile, witnesses said at least six people were killed in the strike.

Regarding the number of wounded, a police officer told AP that eight people were injured. However, Dhobley residents told the New York Times three civilians were wounded in the attack that partly destroyed a house. The only fatalities were three cows and a donkey, they said.

Official US sources indicated that several al Qaeda members were killed in the attack, possibly including Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan, as noted by the Washington Post.

The incident occured at 3:30 am local time.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    4 – 6
  • Civilians reported injured
    3–8
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Known attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al Qaeda in East Africa
  • Belligerents reported killed
    2–3

Sources (7) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (2) [ collapse]

  • A cruise missile of the type likely fired by US forces on Dhobley, March 3, 2008 (via AFP)
  • Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan was wanted by the FBI in connection with two attacks in 2002. Image via Kenyan Police

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention that two houses in the town of Dhoobley (4 miles from the Kenyan border) were targeted and that witnesses/neighbours fled under tree cover. Due to limited information and satellite imagery available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the precise location of the strike. However, the coordinates for the town Dhoobley are: 0.411429, 41.008691.

United States Armed Forces Assessment:

  • Known belligerent
    United States Armed Forces
  • United States Armed Forces position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Original strike reports

United States Armed Forces

AFP, March 3rd, 2008:

"The US military fired at least one cruise missile into southern Somalia near the Kenyan border, targeting an Al-Qaeda leader believed to be hiding there, a US military official said Monday.
"On March 2, the US conducted an attack against a known Al-Qaeda terrorist in southern Somalia," Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said in Washington.
Whitman would provide no details on the type of attack, the identity of the target, or the outcome.
But another military official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said at least one cruise missile, and possibly more, was launched at the target in southern Somalia.
"They're still trying to assess the damage, the effectiveness," the official said, but did not elaborate on how the assessment was being carried out."

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    4 – 6
  • Civilians reported injured
    3–8
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Known attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al Qaeda in East Africa
  • Belligerents reported killed
    2–3

Sources (7) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM007-C

Incident date

May 1, 2008

Location

Dusa Marreb, Galgaduud, Somalia

Geolocation

5.536238, 46.384700 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Town level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Town

Airwars assessment

At least five and as many as 30 civilians, including children and one woman, were reportedly killed as US-launched missiles targeted and killed several top al Shabab commanders in Dusa Marreb, a Somali village near the Ethiopian border, local and international sources reported.

Around 3am local time on May 1st, 2008, US naval-launched cruise missiles struck the vicinity of a compound in Dusa Marreb, killing, among other militants, the head of the Somali Islamist movement al Shabaab, Aden Hashi Ayro (see also SOM001), which had growing ties with Al Qaeda. Some reports claimed an AC-130 gunship was also involved in the attack.

An American military official in Washington told the New York Times: “[A]t least four Tomahawk cruise missiles fired from a Navy ship or submarine off the Somali coast had slammed into a small compound of single-story buildings in Dusa Marreb, a well-known hide-out for Mr. Ayro and his associates. The military official and two American intelligence officials said all indications were that Mr. Ayro was killed, along with several top lieutenants, but the attack was still being assessed.”

Insurgent leaders had been meeting in Dusa Marreb, al Shabaab-controlled broadcaster Shabelle reported, putting the death toll at 15. A Shabaab spokesperson, Mukhtar Ali Robow, told Reuters: ‘Infidel planes bombed Dusa Marreb… Two of our important people, including Ayro, were killed.’ Sheikh Muhyadin Omar was among the dead, according to the Long War Journal and Africa Confidential. Residents said ‘several other Shabaab fighters and civilians were killed, Reuters reported. Half a dozen senior Al Shabaab commanders and Ayro’s brother were killed in the strike, according to Africa Confidential.

The civilian toll spanned from “several” to as many as 30 across the sources. Some reports put the toll at “at least ten”, while Africa Confidential reported that Ayro’s wife and children, and people from nearby houses, were also reported dead. Another local resident, Jamal Mohamoud, told AFP that he had seen eight bodies in the destroyed house.

Finally, The New York Times, citing local witnesses, reported that “as many as 30 people were dead and that residents were counting skulls to determine the number.”

After Ayro’s death, al Shabaab reportedly suspected the US had tracked him through his iPhone and had banned the use of similar devices.

The incident occured between 2:00 am and 3:00 am local time.

The victims were named as:

Family members (3)

  • Wife of Aden Hashi Ayro Adult female killed
  • Child 1 of Aden Hashi Ayro Child killed
  • Child 2 of Aden Hashi Ayro Child killed

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    5 – 30
  • (2 children1 woman)
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Known attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    2–10

Sources (12) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (1) [ collapse]

  • Locals of Dusa Marreb walking through the rubble of the compound the day after it was hit by a May 1st, 2008 US missile strike (via Abdi Guled/ Reuters/ New York Times)

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention that the strike targeted residential buildings in the town of Dusa Marreb, for which the generic coordinates are: 5.536238, 46.384700. Due to limited information and satellite imagery available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.

United States Armed Forces Assessment:

  • Known belligerent
    United States Armed Forces
  • United States Armed Forces position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Original strike reports

United States Armed Forces

The New York Times, May 2nd, 2008:

"An American military official in Washington, who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the operation, said at least four Tomahawk cruise missiles fired from a Navy ship or submarine off the Somali coast had slammed into a small compound of single-story buildings in Dusa Marreb, a well-known hide-out for Mr. Ayro and his associates. The military official and two American intelligence officials said all indications were that Mr. Ayro was killed, along with several top lieutenants, but the attack was still being assessed.
“This was in the works for some time,” said the official. He said American intelligence agents had been tracking Mr. Ayro for weeks through a combination of communications intercepts, satellite imagery and other intelligence."

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    5 – 30
  • (2 children1 woman)
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Known attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    2–10

Sources (12) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM008-C

Incident date

September 14, 2009

Location

مدينة ﺑﺮﺍﻭة, Baraawe, Lower Shabelle, Somalia

Geolocation

1.112554, 44.028921 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Town level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Town

Airwars assessment

Up to six people, including at least one possible civilian, were killed and at least two possible civilians were wounded, as a US-launched raid targeted and reportedly killed a high value al Qaeda/ al Shabab member, Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan, international media reported.

The attack marked the first known lethal operation by US forces in Somalia of the Obama administration.

In an operation codenamed ‘Celestial Balance’ US Special Forces launched a helicopter raid into Somalia, killing Kenyan Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan, wanted in connection with the Mombasa attacks. “We’d been tracking him for years,” a senior military official told Sean D. Naylor, in the Army Times. “We knew his travel route, we knew the vehicles he was using.” Three options were initially mooted to Obama and his senior advisers: to fire Tomahawk cruise missiles from a warship off the Somali coast; a helicopter attack on the convoy, or a ‘snatch and grab operation attempting to take Nabhan alive. According to Klaidman “as everyone left the meeting that evening it was clear that the only viable plan was the lethal one.”

The US learned that Nabhan’s convoy would be setting off from Mogadishu to meet Islamic militants in the coastal town of Baraawe, the Daily Beast reported. As the convoy neared Baraawe, JSOC struck. A number of 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment AH-6 Little Bird helicopters flew from a Navy ship and attacked the militants as they were breakfasting, killing six, including Nabhan, according to news reports, including Army Times. However, NPR reported that SEAL commandos fired missiles into Nabhan’s car.

The Army Times and Daily Beast stated that one helicopter also landed, with operators jumping out to load the bodies of Nabhan and three others into the aircraft, in order to retrieve Nabhan’s DNA. Following this operation, a Pentagon official told the Daily Beast that the US Special Forces wanted to increase their use of Sensitive Site Exploitation (SSE), not just to kill terror targets but to rummage through their belongings”, but that “the president was not supportive” and that this became a bone of contention between Special Ops and the Obama administration.

It was unclear among sources how many militants exactly were killed, and whether civilians were among the victims. While both the Guardian and Long War Journal said that two people were killed (Nabhan and another terrorist), Mareeg, which also reported two deaths, only noted that one of them was a belligerent, suggesting a civilian fatality.

The number of killed militants thus spans from two to six, as reported by Army Times, while one civilian death cannot be excluded.

Several sources reported that the attack also wounded two people, whose combatant status again remains unclear among reports.

The local time of the incident is unknown.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    0 – 1
  • Civilians reported injured
    0–2
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Known attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected targets
    Al-Shabaab, Al Qaeda in East Africa
  • Belligerents reported killed
    2–6
  • Belligerents reported injured
    0–2

Sources (12) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (1) [ collapse]

  • Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan was wanted by the FBI in connection with two attacks in 2002. Image via Kenyan Police

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention that the strike targeted a vehicle as it travelled through a village near Baraawe, heading south from Mogadishu. The coordinates for the town of Baraawe are: 1.112554, 44.028921. Due to limited information and satellite imagery available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.

United States Armed Forces Assessment:

  • Known belligerent
    United States Armed Forces
  • United States Armed Forces position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Original strike reports

United States Armed Forces

TIME, September 9th, 2009:

"The deadly drama of piracy, terrorism and humanitarian catastrophe that is Somalia took another twist on Sept. 14. A squad of U.S. special operations helicopter gunships, which were launched off a Navy vessel in the Indian Ocean, attacked and killed an alleged al-Qaeda leader in Somalia, U.S. officials told TIME. The dead man was believed to be Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan, a 28-year-old Kenyan wanted for attacks on a seaside hotel and an Israeli airliner in 2002 in Kenya."

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    0 – 1
  • Civilians reported injured
    0–2
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Known attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected targets
    Al-Shabaab, Al Qaeda in East Africa
  • Belligerents reported killed
    2–6
  • Belligerents reported injured
    0–2

Sources (12) [ collapse]