At least two people, both reportedly al-Shabaab affiliated, were killed in a US drone strike on a vehicle in Jilib, Middle Juba region, international media reported. As of now, there are no reports about civilian harm.
Senior al Shabaab commander Ibrahim Ali Abdi (aka Anta Anta) was killed in the attack, according to Abu Mohamed, an al Shabaab militant, and Somali Interior Minister Abdikarim Hussein Guled. Ali Abdi was widely described as al Shabaab’s leading bomb maker. He was reportedly responsible for attacks on UN and diplomatic missions, and on a presidential palace in Hargeisa, Somaliland.
An unnamed official said Ali Abdi was “a person of interest we had been tracking”, while another said the US was ‘optimistic‘ he had died in the attack. Interior Minister Guled said Somali security services provided the US with intelligence for the attack. Abu Ali, Abdi’s ‘friend’, also died in the attack, Guled added.
Four witnesses reportedly said two men in a car died, the only reported casualties. Such precision suggested a drone carried out the attack. Anonymous US officials confirmed this, briefing that it was a US Army drone strike. Local resident Hassan Nur reportedly said:
“I heard a big crash and saw a drone disappearing far into the sky, at least two militants died…I witnessed a Suzuki car burning, many al Shabaab men came to the scene. I could see them carry the remains of two corpses. It was a heavy missile that the drone dropped. Many cars were driving ahead of me but the drone targeted this Suzuki.”
The two men were apparently travelling from Jilib, around 120km south of Mogadishu, to Barawe, an al Shabaab stronghold. Barawe was where US Special Forces failed to capture a senior al Shabaab militant in a daring raid more than three weeks earlier. A Somali intelligence source told the Associated Press the men were on their way to mediate a clan dispute.
Al Shabaab announced in March 2014 that it had executed a man they claimed had helped the US launch this strike. Mohamed Abdulle Gelle, 29, was one of three men executed by firing squad for apparently spying for the US and Somali governments.
In a subsequent FOIA response obtained by journalist Joshua Eaton in May 2019, AFRICOM said it had conducted a strike on what it says was “an al-Shabaab named objective”, in the vicinity of Jilib on October 26th 2013 which is a close match for this strike, though two days prior to all other reports. This is therefore being treated as a single event.
The incident occured between 1:30 pm and 2:00 pm local time.
Sources (12) [ collapse]
Geolocation notes (1) [ collapse]
Reports of the incident mention that the strike took place on the road between Jilib and Baraawe, near the village Dhaytubako (or Dhey Tubaako), just east of the town Jilib. The coordinates of that area of the road are: 0.475148, 42.929292. Due to limited information and satellite imagery available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.
US Forces Assessment:
Original strike reports
CNN, October 28th, 2013:
"A U.S. military drone strike in southern Somalia killed two suspected Al Shabaab members, two U.S. officials confirm to CNN.
One of those killed was described by one of the officials as Anta, considered a top technical and explosives expert for the al Qaeda-affiliated group.
He was "a person of interest we had been tracking," the official said.
The other individual killed was not identified. However, it was not Mohamed Abdikadir Mohamed, said to be one of the most dangerous Al Shabaab commanders and known as Ikrima."