A US drone strike targeted a vehicle carrying three al Shabaab figures in southern Somalia. The attack hit in the early evening and killed a senior al Shabaab leader, Hassan Ali Dhoore, according to the Pentagon. There were additional reports that two other militants were killed alongside Hassan Ali Dhoore. There are currently no reports of civilian harm from this strike.
The Pentagon said the strike had targeted Hassan Ali Dhoore, “a senior leader of al Shabaab, who is part of al Qaeda”. The strike was conducted “in cooperation with the Federal Government of Somalia,” a Pentagon spokesperson said in a statement.
Dhoore was also reportedly responsible for killing US citizens in two attacks in Mogadishu, and plotting unspecified future attacks on the city.
The US did not officially confirm Dhoore was dead until April 4th when spokesperson Peter Cook briefed reporters. In the intervening time, the Pentagon maintained it was “still assessing the results of this operation”.
During the few days before Dhoore’s death was confirmed, unnamed defence officials told some US journalists that the drone strike had most likely killed Dhoore along with two other al Shabaab fighters in the early evening. The officials said the US military had been “watching him off and on for a long time” and the Somali government shared information that led to the attack.
The precise circumstances of the strike were confused by the deputy commander of Somalia’s army, General Abi Bashe, who told Voice of America that Somali commandos operating in al Shabaab territory had located and identified Dhoore. Bashe said Dhoore had been killed in a village called Toratorow, in a gun battle between Somali forces, their US advisers, and al Shabaab. He said it was not clear whether Dhoore was killed by gun fire or the drone strike.
A Pentagon spokesperson denied any gun battle occurred, saying the US had specifically targeted Dhoore near Jillib.
According to the New York Times, “One United States official, speaking on condition of anonymity to describe initial assessments of the attack, said the military believed that Mr. Dhoore and two others had been killed in the strike, which occurred near Jilib, south of Mogadishu.”
VOA reported that “at least two other Somali militants were killed along with Dhore”.
In a subsequent FOIA response obtained by journalist Joshua Eaton in May 2019, AFRICOM confirmed it had struck what it says was an “al-Shabaab named objective”, 30 km south of Jilib, Somalia.
The incident occured in the evening.
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Geolocation notes (1) [ collapse]
Reports of the incident mention that the strike targeted a vehicle between the towns Jilib and Kamsuuma, in the area 30 kilometers south of the town Jilib. The coordinates for the middle point of the road between these two towns are: 0.379484, 42.804503. Due to limited information and satellite imagery available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.
United States Armed Forces Assessment:
Original strike reports
On April 1st 2016, the Pentagon stated:
In cooperation with the Federal Government of Somalia, on Thursday, March 31, the U.S. military conducted an airstrike in Somalia against Hassan Ali Dhoore, a senior leader of al-Shabaab, who is part of al-Qa'ida. While we are still assessing the results of this operation, removing Dhoore from the battlefield would be a significant blow to al-Shabaab's operational planning and ability to conduct attacks against the government of the Federal Republic of Somalia, its citizens, U.S. partners in the region, and against Americans abroad.
In addition to being part of al-Qa'ida, Hassan Ali Dhoore was a member of al-Shabaab's Amniyat (security and intelligence) wing and was heavily involved in high profile attack planning in Mogadishu. He had planned and overseen attacks resulting in the death of at least three U.S. citizens.
Dhoore played a direct role in the December 25, 2014 attack on Mogadishu International Airport, resulting in the death of several African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) personnel and one U.S. citizen. Dhoore was also directly responsible for the March 27, 2015 attack on the Maka al-Mukarram Hotel in Mogadishu, resulting in the deaths of 15 people, including one Somali-American national. Hassan was believed to have been plotting attacks targeting U.S. citizens in Mogadishu.
We will provide additional information as and when appropriate.