US Forces in Somalia

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

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

Incident Code

USSOM036

Incident date

February 2, 2015

Location

Diinsoor, Bay, Somalia

Geolocation

2.40735, 42.976551 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Town level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Town

Airwars assessment

According to a Freedom of Information response obtained by journalist Joshua Eaton in  May 2019, this previously unknown US strike took place in Dinsoor, Somalia against an “al-Shabaab Named Objective”.

It should be noted however that the last known declared US strike in Dinsoor prior to February 2nd 2015 was on January 31st 2015. There is the possibility that these are therefore the same strike.

This incident was not previously publicly known. No further details are currently available.

The local time of the incident is unknown.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Known attacker
    United States Armed Forces

Sources (1) [ collapse]

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention that the strike took place in the town Diinsoor, for which the coordinates are: 2.40735, 42.976551. 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

According to a Freedom of Information response obtained by journalist Joshua Eaton in May 2019, this previously unknown US strike took place at Dinsoor, Somalia on February 2nd 2014 against an "al-Shabaab Named Objective". It is possible this is the same event as a confirmed US strike on the same town on January 31st 2014 - which did not appear in this FOIA response.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Known attacker
    United States Armed Forces

Sources (1) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM035-C

Incident date

January 31, 2015

Location

Diinsoor, Bay, Somalia

Geolocation

2.40735, 42.976551 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Town level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Town

Airwars assessment

At least four civilian casualties were reported injured or killed in a confirmed US attack on Dinsooor, though it was not clear if they were injured or killed. JSOC had targeted and killed Yusef Dheeqm, al Shabaab’s head of external operations in the drone strike.

Rear Admiral John Kirby confirmed in two separate Pentagon press conferences that the US had carried out the attack and had killed a senior al Shabaab figure. The first, on February 3rd, confirmed the attack was a US operation. Kirby then declared that the US had killed its target in a second press conference on February 10th. This was the third consecutive US drone strike in Somalia to kill a senior al Shabaab figure to follow a split confirmation format – with a first briefing confirming a strike, and a second confirming the death of an al Shabaab target.

Kirby said US Special Forces had killed Yusef Dheeq and one associate. When confirming the attack, Kirby said Dheeq was targeted “with Hellfire missiles fired from UAVs [unmanned aerial vehicles]”. Kirby described Dheeq as al Shabaab’s “intelligence and security chief, and director of external planning”. However he said that if Dheeq “no longer draws breath,” the US military considered the strike to be a success. The strike “goes to show how long our reach can be when it comes to counter terrorism,” he added.

Before Kirby’s statement, an unnamed official told the Washington Post that Dheeq was killed while riding in a vehicle with other alleged al Shabaab members. It was not clear how many others were killed, the official added. Ahmed Adan, a Bay region official, told Anadolu Agency: “Several al Shabaab militants and a top leader have been killed in the airstrike.” The strike killed five according to an Africaine de Presse report.

Local resident Ali Yare told AFP there had been four civilian casualties in the strike. The civilians were injured he said: however it was not clear if they had died of their injuries: “We heard a very loud explosion and a few minutes later I saw cars rushing to the scene, some of them returned with casualties. Four civilians were among the casualties… We don’t know who was the target because the area was sealed off.”

See also a US confirmed strike declared for February 2nd 2014 at Dinsoor, which may in fact be this event.

The incident occured during the night.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    0 – 4
  • Civilians reported injured
    4
  • 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
  • Belligerents reported killed
    2–5

Sources (6) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (1) [ collapse]

  • Pentagon press Secretary Rear Admiral John Kirby, confirming to reporters on February 3rd 2014 a US drone strike three days earlier, in Somalia (Image via DoD)

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention that the strike targeted a convoy heading to an al Shabaab training camp near the town Diinsoor. Due to limited information and satellite imagery available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the precise location of the strike. The coordinates for the town of Diinsoor are: 2.40735, 42.976551.

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, February 10th, 2015:

"WASHINGTON — Pentagon press secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby confirmed Tuesday that the U.S. military killed a senior leader of the al-Shabab militant group last month.
Last week, Kirby told reporters that a Jan. 31 American drone strike targeted Yusuf Dheeq, the head of external operations for the al-Qaida affiliated organization, which is based in Somalia. As of last week, officials were still trying to determine whether the strike was successful."

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    0 – 4
  • Civilians reported injured
    4
  • 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
  • Belligerents reported killed
    2–5

Sources (6) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM034-C

Incident date

January 31, 2015

Location

Dugule, Lower Shabelle, Somalia

Geolocation

2.27893, 44.523991 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Village level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Village

Airwars assessment

A mystery airstrike reportedly killed between 40 and 60 alleged belligerents on January 31st 2015. Xinhua also reported that “scores of others were injured” in the attack, leaving it unclear whether those injured were civilians or militants. It was described by some as a US drone strike – thought the Pentagon denied this.

Abdulkadir Mohamed Nor Sidi – the governor of Lower Shabelle where the strike hit -reportedly told journalists that unmanned aircraft had targeted a training camp and a house which he said belonged to al Shabaab. The governor also claimed: “Unmanned aircraft also hit Shabaab armored vehicles patrolling the Dugule neighborhood in Toratorow village.”

The US military however denied it had carried out the attack, while confirming it was responsible for a drone strike at 9am local time in the Bay region the same day. AMISOM also denied carrying out the attack, saying it did not have the aircraft to carry out such actions. And the Kenyan Defence Force (KDF), which had launched air attacks in southern Somalia, told the Bureau of Investigative Journalism that the strikes were “not within Sector II where KDF is mandated to operate”.

“I can confirm that between 45-60 al-Shabaab militants were killed during the airstrikes…. Some of their officials were killed also in the attack including foreigners,” Nor Sidi said, according to Horseed Media. A local resident told Xinhua: “There was a loud explosion from the village, and we ran away to escape fearing for our lives.”

If a UAV strike, it would have been the most lethal US drone strike since June 23rd 2009 when an attack killed at least 60 in Pakistan, according to Airwars data. Though claimed as a US action, the high death toll is more in keeping with reported Kenya Defence Force attacks against Shabaab. Though reported as a US strike, the high death toll appeared more in keeping with reported Kenya Defence Force attacks against Shabaab at around this time.

The incident occured in the afternoon.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Contested strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Civilians reported injured
    0–5
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Weak
    Single source claim, though sometimes featuring significant information.
  • Suspected attackers
    United States Armed Forces, Unknown, Kenyan Military Forces, Amisom Military Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    40–60

Sources (3) [ collapse]

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention the village of Dugule, near Torato in the Lower Shabelle region. The generic coordinates for the village of Dugule are: 2.27893, 44.523991. Due to limited information and satellite imagery available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the locatioin further.

United States Armed Forces Assessment:

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

Unknown Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    Unknown
  • Unknown position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Kenyan Military Forces Assessment:

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

Amisom Military Forces Assessment:

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

Summary

  • Strike status
    Contested strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Civilians reported injured
    0–5
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Weak
    Single source claim, though sometimes featuring significant information.
  • Suspected attackers
    United States Armed Forces, Unknown, Kenyan Military Forces, Amisom Military Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    40–60

Sources (3) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM033

Incident date

December 29, 2014

Location

سااكوو, Saakow, Middle Juba, Somalia

Geolocation

1.637795, 42.452829 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Town level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Town

Airwars assessment

Up to three senior members of al Shabaab were killed by a US military drone in Saakow, Middle Juba, international media reported. There were no known reports of associated civilian harm.

The US military said that an airstrike had targeted a “senior leader” of the al Shabaab militant group. Somalia’s National Intelligence and Security Agency later identified the target as al Shabaab’s chief of intelligence, known as Abdishakur.

Pentagon press secretary Rear Admiral John Kirby confirmed that the US had killed Abdishakur with drones in a briefing two days after the strike.

The NSA said that both Abdishakur and two other senior members of the group were killed in the strike, according to Bloomberg. An anonymous US official later told Reuters that Abdishakur and one other militant had died. A US defence official told CNN that the strike was carried out by a drone.

The previous week a senior al Shabaab figure also described as the group’s head of intelligence gave himself up to Somali authorities. The US had reportedly offered a $3m reward for information leading to his capture.

In a subsequent FOIA response obtained by journalist Joshua Eaton in May 2019, AFRICOM again confirmed it had carried out a strike on what it says was an “al- Shabaab named objective”, in Sakoow, Somalia.

The local time of the incident is unknown.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    0
  • Known attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Belligerents reported killed
    2–3

Sources (6) [ collapse]

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention that the strike took place near the town Saakow, for which the coordinates are: 1.637795, 42.452829. 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

Pentagon officials confirmed today that a high-ranking member of the al-Shabab militant group in Somalia was killed in a Dec. 29 airstrike.
The unmanned U.S. aircraft strike near Saakow, Somalia, killed Tahlil Abdishakur, chief of al-Shabab’s intelligence and security wing, officials said in a statement.
Working from actionable intelligence, U.S. forces struck a vehicle carrying Tahlil with several Hellfire missiles, officials added.
Tahlil was responsible for al-Shabaab's external operations. “His death will significantly impact al-Shabaab's ability to conduct attacks against the government of the Federal Republic of Somalia, the Somali people, and U.S. allies and interests in the region," the Pentagon statement said.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    0
  • Known attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Belligerents reported killed
    2–3

Sources (6) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM032

Incident date

September 1, 2014

Location

Sablaale, Lower Shabelle, Somalia

Geolocation

1.251506, 43.807038 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Village level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Village

Airwars assessment

In this strike in Barawe, Lower Shabelle, up to six al Shabaab militants were killed, including the the group’s leader, Ahmed Abdi Godane (aka Mukhtar Abu Zubeyr or Ahmed Abdi Aw Mohamed), international and local media reported. There were no reports of civilian harm.

The strike was the first known US attack in Somalia for some months, and involved both US drones and conventional air craft, flown by Special Forces operatives from JSOC, who targeted an encampment and vehicles in the Lower Shabelle region of Somalia. At least six people were reportedly killed in the attack, multiple sources said.

It remained unclear for days after the strike if the US had indeed killed Godane. Initially the US government, Somali government officials and al Shabaab were cagey about his apparent demise. The day after the attack, al Shabaab spokesperson Abu Mohammed confirmed Godane, above, was in the convoy when the attack hit. And a US official told Reuters: “We don’t know that he’s dead. But he was the target.”

Godane’s death was eventually confirmed on September 5th. He was the specific target, according to a Pentagon spokesperson, though the attack reportedly also killed a group of senior al Shabaab figures.

Godane, 37, trained as an accountant and worked for an airline before turning to violence, according to the Daily Telegraph. He took control of the al Shabaab group in 2008 when his predecessor Aden Hashi Ayro was killed in a cruise missile strike. He sidelined or killed more moderate rivals in his rise to the top of the terrorist organisation. The US government had put a $7m reward for information on his whereabouts.

Al Shabaab named a successor two days after the US government confirmed Godane was dead. Ahmed Umar was elected unanimously, according to a video message sent to al Jazeera. The Somali government subsequently put a $3m reward out for Umar.

While Godane’s fate was unclear for almost a week after the strike, the Pentagon was uncharacteristically transparent about the attack, with spokesperson Rear Admiral John Kirby making several statements, and answering questions from the press. Kirby said of the strike: “The U.S. military undertook operations against Godane on Sept. 1, which led to his death… Removing Godane from the battlefield is a major symbolic and operational loss” to al-Shabab… The United States works in coordination with its friends, allies and partners to counter the regional and global threats posed by violent extremist organizations.”

Somali National Security Ministry spokesperson Mohamed Yusuf additionally told journalists: “His death is great news for the Somali people, because he was responsible for the killing of thousands of innocent people in his so-called holy war.”

Godane was in overall command of the murderous terrorist attack on the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi, in 2013. The president of Kenya Uhuru Kenyatta thanked the US for killing Godane: “We owe the United States and its soldiers our heartfelt thanks for bringing an end to Godane’s career of death and destruction and finally allowing us to begin our healing process.”

A possible, and surprising, element of this strike emerged on September 12th 2014. A French publication, Le Point, reported that France’s intelligence service the DGSE had given the US the precise whereabouts of Godane, under direct orders from President Francois Hollande. The article claimed that Paris had been hunting Godane to exact revenge for the kidnapping of two DGSE officers on July 14th 2009, and the death of one of them and two commandos sent to rescue him on January 12th 2013. President Hollande had ordered his intelligence services to do everything they could to find and kill Godane.

In a subsequent FOIA response obtained by journalist Joshua Eaton in May 2019, AFRICOM again confirmed it had carried out a strike on what it says was an  “al Shabaab named objective”, in the vicinity of Baraawe, Somalia on this date.

The incident occured at 5:30 pm local time.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    0
  • Known attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Belligerents reported killed
    1–6

Sources (21) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (1) [ collapse]

  • Ahmed Abdi aw-Mohamed, alias Ahmed Godane (via Voice of America)

Geolocation notes (1) [ collapse]

Reports of the incident mention various locations, most of them pointing to Sablaale district and a forest area near the village Sablaale, around 105 miles south of Mogadishu. The coordinates for the village Sablaale are: 1.251506, 43.807038. One source mentions that explosions were seen and heard from the nearby village Haway (1.1682, 43.71413) and another one reports that the target had been at a meeting at Dhaytubako (0.478243, 42.92698), but doesn’t state if the meeting itself had been targeted or if it occurred afterwards elsewhere. Due to limited information and satellite imagery available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.

  • The village of Sablaale, slightly further than 105 miles south of Mogadishu (radius marked in red), close to the village Haway, from where the explosions were seen

    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

Ahmed Abdi al-Muhammad, also known Ahmed Godane, the co-founder of the al-Shabab jihadist group, was killed Sept. 1 in a U.S. airstrike in Somalia, Pentagon Press Secretary Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby confirmed today.
“The U.S. military undertook operations against Godane on Sept. 1, which led to his death,” Kirby said in a statement. “Removing Godane from the battlefield is a major symbolic and operational loss” to al-Shabab,” Kirby said in a statement. “The United States works in coordination with its friends, allies and partners to counter the regional and global threats posed by violent extremist organizations."
At a Sept. 2 Pentagon news conference, Kirby said manned and unmanned aircraft operated by U.S. special operations forces participated in an airstrike that destroyed an al-Shabab encampment and a vehicle located at that camp. Kirby added that the operation was a direct strike against the al-Shabab network, and specifically against Godane.
The operation was carried out after actionable intelligence was obtained that suggested that Godane was present at the camp, located south of the Somali capital of Mogadishu, the press secretary said at the news conference, noting that it was too early to tell whether the strike had killed him.
The aircraft fired several Hellfire missiles and laser-guided munitions, and no U.S. forces were present on the ground, either before or after the attack, he added.
Al-Shabab is a jihadist group based in Somalia. It has claimed responsibility for last year’s attack on the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya, which resulted in more than 70 deaths and 200 injured. The group is also believed to be responsible for many bombings, including suicide attacks in Mogadishu and in central and northern Somalia, Kirby said Sept. 2.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    0
  • Known attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Belligerents reported killed
    1–6

Sources (21) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM031-C

Incident date

June 1–30, 2014

Location

Farigow, 3 km west of Jilib, Middle Jubba, Somalia

Geolocation

0.496059, 42.749613 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Neighbourhood/area level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Neighbourhood/area

Airwars assessment

Between one and five civilians, including women and children, were killed as the Farigow leper colony near Jilib, Middle Jubba was struck by unknown warplanes, international media reported.

A woman living near the settlement told the Kenyan group Journalists for Justice that the colony was struck by jets by “mid 2014”, killing one person and injuring another three. “Farigow is a settlement of leprosy victims near Jilib. A woman living near there said it was attacked by jets in mid-2014. Three adults were injured and one killed, she reported to JFJ.”

Journalists for Justice said the attack was the same one described by the UN in its Somalia Monitoring Group report for 2014, which stated: “On 20 May 2014, for example, a village at Faragurow, 3 kilometers west of Jilib town in Middle Jubba, was attacked by fighter jets. Some reports claimed that among the dead were ‘2 women, 2 children and an old man.'”

The local time of the incident is unknown.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Contested strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    1 – 5
  • (1–2 children1–2 women0–1 men)
  • Civilians reported injured
    3
  • 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, Kenyan Military Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab

Sources (2) [ collapse]

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention that the strike targeted a settlement of leprosy victims called Farigow or Faragurow, 3 kilometers west of the town Jilib. Due to limited information and satellite imagery available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location of Farigow. The coordinates for the area 3 kilometers west of the town Jilib are: 0.496059, 42.749613.

United States Armed Forces Assessment:

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

Kenyan Military Forces Assessment:

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

Summary

  • Strike status
    Contested strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    1 – 5
  • (1–2 children1–2 women0–1 men)
  • Civilians reported injured
    3
  • 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, Kenyan Military Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab

Sources (2) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM030-C

Incident date

January 26, 2014

Location

Haway, Lower Shabelle, Somalia

Geolocation

1.1682, 43.71413 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Village level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Village

Airwars assessment

Two civilian children were reported killed and their father severely injured when a US military drone strike attack seemingly directed at nine al Shabaab members struck Hawai, Lower Shabelle, international and local media reported. The strike was said to have targeted and failed to kill Ahmed Abdi Godane.

While there initially were no reports of civilian harm, two Somali herders launched a legal case more than a year later, in November 2015, claiming they had been caught up in this strike. The men brought a war crimes suit against the Dutch government, saying the Netherlands’ spies had provided the US with the intelligence to prosecute this strike. Both men said their cattle herds were largely wiped out in the strike.  Omar Mahamud Ali – named by De Volkskrant – said the attack had killed two of his daughters. He also lost a leg. The news organisation conducted a detailed interview:

“The blow is deafening and the earth is shaking. The second blow comes right after it. He didn’t even have time to look up. The drone’s Hellfire rockets hit the land cruisers, which set them on fire. The men from the wagons are later found mutilated beyond recognition, a witness tells press agency AP. He also tells that masked men of Al Shabaab come to the place that night in the dark, screaming that God is great, to scrape the remains out of the burnt-out wagons, put them in bags, and tear them away. International media also show that the intended target Ahmed Godane will not be hit that day. He is not in the affected pick-ups. However, another leader of Al Shabaab dies: Sahal Iskuduq.

Daddy’, screams Nimo. ‘Papá.’ Immediately there is the pain. It felt like a stone was going through my leg,’ says Omar. And something had happened to my head. I couldn’t see anything anymore.’

There is smoke everywhere, there are big clouds of sand everywhere. It is the last thing he sees, before it turns black. The hard blow has just been, as Nuur runs to the place where he sees black smoke and high flames. The place where his cattle stood. He sees off-road vehicles burning.

Suddenly he sees Omar lying there.

Less than two hours ago they were talking under the big tree. They are nomads of the same clan. And now Omar lies here unconscious on the goat path. In his head are shards, and his leg is open. There is blood everywhere. Further on there are dead sheep, goats and cows. Then he sees two girls between the carcasses. Omar’s daughters.

Saharo’s body is badly damaged. Nimo has been hit in her belly, but she is still alive. Around them, the people of their tribe come running to help. Everyone has heard the blow. But the men of Al Shabaab chase them away. They don’t want any prying eyes. The nomads have to remove their dead and wounded quickly.

Nure Saharo gently lifts up Omar’s favourite daughter. She is dead. For half an hour he carries the corpse, on his way to her mother, who doesn’t know anything yet. He runs. I was scared’, Nuur later says, ‘that there would be a second attack’.

With the girl in his arms he stands before her.

‘Sabr’, he says. Be strong.

Her mother screams when she sees her daughter. But there is not much time. She washes her daughter’s body. Together they look for a white cloth, which they wrap around the girl. In the cemetery they dig a hole, but they don’t hold a ceremony. The men of Al Shabaab disapprove of that. They don’t want to put branches on the grave, Nuur says. They call out ‘Get out’.

It is unclear how much time it takes, but he only opens his eyes again in a hospital bed in Merca. There he sees his wife and Nuur together at his bedside, he says. Around them it is white. He feels a stabbing pain in his head and leg. Everything is blurred. For a moment he thinks he is home.

What is this here?’, he asks. When did I come here?

His wife is crying. Sabr’, she says to him now. Be strong. It came from above, as an act of God. He has written this. That’s how it goes in this world.’ It is her way of warning him of the story that is to come.

Saharo is dead.

And so is Nimo.”

These civilian casualty claims were not mentioned in any of the initial reports, which said the strike hit a vehicle and killed an al Shabaab commander and others about 200 miles south of Mogadishu. It emerged after the attack that Godane was near the site of the strike but escaped alive. He was killed on September 1st the same year.

The slain al Shabaab commander was named as Sahal Iskudhuq (aka Ahmed Abdulkadir). Voice of America reported Iskudhuq was one of Godane’s senior aides. Locals told RBC Radio he was a “senior figure” in Amniyat, the militant group’s intelligence unit, adding that he was a Somali who had trained abroad and “fought along with senior foreign fighters in Somalia”.

Voice of America reported Iskudhuq and Godane may have been meeting before the attack and “Godane was supposed to travel in the car that night”. The agency also reported claims “al Shabaab has since detained several people in Barawe on suspicion of spying”.

Al Shabaab commander Abu Mohamed told Associated Press Iskudhuq “had previously been in charge of kidnappings of foreigners and ransom deals for the group but recently turned to working with its intelligence unit”. Voice of America reporter Harun Maruf tweeted further details about Iskudhuq:

An anonymous US official told the VOA news agency that the target was a senior member of al Shabaab. Another said the US had “been tracking this guy for years”. Unnamed US officials also confirmed it was a US strike to Associated Press and Reuters. Somali intelligence confirmed an attack on a “dangerous” militant and added that a driver had also been killed.

Dhanaan reported the highest number of militant fatalities as it cited an unnamed eye witness who said that nine al Shabaab members were killed while adding that their car  was left completely destroyed.

Al Shabaab reportedly abducted 17 people, including four al Shabaab members, in apparent retaliation for this strike. They told an elder they were searching for people working for the US.

The incident occured in the evening.

The victims were named as:

Family members (3)

  • Omar Mahamud Ali Adult male Lost leg in action injured
  • Saharo 8 years old female killed
  • Nimo 9 years old female killed

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    2
  • (2 children)
  • Civilians reported injured
    1
  • 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
  • Belligerents reported killed
    1–9

Sources (22) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (1) [ collapse]

  • Omar Mahamud Ali (image montage by De Volkskrant)

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention that the strike took place on the plains around the village Haway. The coordinates for Haway are: 1.1682, 43.71413. 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 Sand Diego Union-Triune/AP, January 27th, 2014:

"Two U.S. military officials confirmed that there was a missile strike against a senior al-Shabab leader in Somalia on Sunday. The officials wouldn't identify the target of the strike, and one of them said U.S. intelligence is still "assessing the effectiveness of the strike.""

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    2
  • (2 children)
  • Civilians reported injured
    1
  • 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
  • Belligerents reported killed
    1–9

Sources (22) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM029-C

Incident date

November 1–30, 2013

Location

جيليب, Jilib, Middle Juba, Somalia

Geolocation

0.494527, 42.777868 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Town level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Town

Airwars assessment

Five children from a single family were killed in the town of Jilib, in Somalia’s Middle Juba region, when their house was razed by aerial bombardment from an unknown belligerent (possibly Kenya), according to residents interviewed by the group Journalists for Justice.

According to the report, “A third set of strikes took place a few weeks later in November 2013, according to the residents. Around 1pm jets razed five (5) homes. In one house five (5) children from the same family were killed, two interviewees said. At another open farming area on the edge of Jilib town, one herder was injured.”

As of now, no further details are available, and the exact date of the event in November is unclear. Based on its known presence in the general area, the presumed target of the attack was al Shabaab.

The incident occured at approximately 1:00 pm local time.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Single source claim
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    5
  • (5 children)
  • Civilians reported injured
    1
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Weak
    Single source claim, though sometimes featuring significant information.
  • Suspected attackers
    United States Armed Forces, Kenyan Military Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab

Sources (1) [ collapse]

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention that the strike targeted five homes as well as a farming area on the edge of the town Jilib. The coordinates for the town of Jilib are: 0.494527, 42.777868. Due to limited information and satellite imagery available 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

Kenyan Military Forces Assessment:

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

Summary

  • Strike status
    Single source claim
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    5
  • (5 children)
  • Civilians reported injured
    1
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Weak
    Single source claim, though sometimes featuring significant information.
  • Suspected attackers
    United States Armed Forces, Kenyan Military Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab

Sources (1) [ collapse]