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

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

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

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]