A US strike on an al Shabaab “command and logistics node” killed eight members of the group, according to a US Africa Command press release. There were claims that Abdirahman Mohamed Warsame, a commander of the terror group’s intelligence wing was killed in the strike, though this was not confirmed by AFRICOM. No civilians were reported at the time to have been killed or injured in the action.
The attack took place at 2:20am Eastern Standard Time on June 11th, according to the statement. This is around 9.20am local Somalia time.
The office of Somalia’s President Mohamed Abdullahi said the camp was near Sakow, in the Middle Juba region in southern Somalia. AFRICOM said it was located 185 miles southwest of Mogadishu.
“Earlier today, I authorised our special forces with the support of our international partners to conduct a strike against an al Shabaab training camp near Sakow,” a statement from President Abdullahi said, which suggests Somali special forces were involved in the attack.
It was conducted under authorities approved by US President Donald Trump in March 2017 which declared parts of Somalia an “area of active hostilities” for 180 days exempting US commanders from certain restraints. This however appeared to be the first airstrike conducted since the March change.
Pentagon Chief Spokesperson Dana White said that the action was carried out as a direct response to al-Shabaab activities. This included recent attacks on Somali forces, she said, possibly referring to the previous week’s attack on a Somali military encampment, which killed up to 70 people, with some reports of civilian casualties.
AFRICOM said that US forces, in cooperation with the Somali government, are conducting operations “to degrade the al Qaeda affiliate’s ability to recruit, train and plot external terror attacks throughout the region and in America”. Al Shabaab was declared by the US an al Qaeda affiliate at the end of last year.
The New York Times was told by an American official that the strike was carried out by at least one armed Reaper drone coming from an air base in Dijibouti. The source said the drone fired multiple Hellfire missiles on a camp reportedly monitored by US surveillance aircrafts for months.
Such strikes should be expected now, the US official said, on account of US and Somali officials having closely analysed potential targets that could be attacked following the March policy change.
SOFREP, a news site written and curated by US special operations veterans, reported that the strike had targeted the leadership and senior members of the Amniyat, al Shabaab’s intelligence service. It also reported rumours that a commander of the intelligence wing, identified as Abdirahman Mohamed Warsame (also known as Mahad Karate), had been killed.
A source told Reuters that Somali and US forces had been hunting Warsame for some time, with a May 5th raid detailed in the article taking place in village where he was believed to be hiding – and which had led to the death of a US Navy SEAL. The US authorities offered up to $5m for information to bring Warsame to justice. Rewards for Justice continues to describe him (as of November 2019) as a deputy leader of the group.
In a subsequent FOIA response obtained by journalist Joshua Eaton in May 2019, AFRICOM again confirmed it had struck what it says was an al Shabaab training camp with fighters, in the vicinity of Bohol Jawarey, Somalia.
The incident occured at 9:20 am local time.
Sources (11) [ collapse]
Reports of the incident mention that the strike targeted an Al Shabaab camp in the outskirts of the town Saakow. A subsequent FOIA response points to the vicinity of Bohol Jawarey, which is a valley south of Saakow: 1.516667, 42.65. Due to limited information and satellite imagery available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the precise location of the camp.
United States Armed Forces Assessment:
Original strike reports
Pentagon Chief Spokesperson Dana W. White provided the following:
On June 11, at approximately 2 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time, the Department of Defense conducted a strike operation against al-Shabaab in Somalia. The operation occurred approximately 185 miles southwest of Mogadishu. The U.S. conducted this operation in coordination with its regional partners as a direct response to al-Shabaab actions, including recent attacks on Somali forces.
This strike was conducted with the authorities approved by the President in March 2017, which allows the U.S. Department of Defense to conduct legal action against al-Shabaab within a geographically-defined area of active hostilities in support of partner force in Somalia.
We remain committed to working with our Somali partners and allies to systematically dismantle al-Shabaab, and help achieve stability and security throughout the region.
An AFRICOM press release on June 11th stated:
On June 11 at 2:20 am Eastern Standard Time, U.S. forces conducted a precision airstrike in southern Somalia
The militants were operating an al-Shabaab command and logistics node at a camp located approximately 185 miles southwest of Mogadishu in a stronghold for the al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Shabaab organization. Current assessments are eight (8) al-Shabaab militants killed in the strike.
U.S. forces, in cooperation with the Government of Somalia, are conducting operations against al-Shabaab in Somalia to degrade the al-Qaeda affiliate's ability to recruit, train and plot external terror attacks throughout the region and in America.
In the last eight months, al-Shabaab has overrun three African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) Forward Operating Bases by amassing large numbers of fighters and attacking in overwhelming numbers. Al-Shabaab has also increased its combat capability by seizing heavy weaponry, armored vehicles, explosives, small arms, ammunition, and other miscellaneous supplies during its operations overrunning Burundian National Defense Forces FOB Leego, Ugandan People's Defense Force FOB Janaale, and Kenyan Defense Force FOB Ceel Ad.
The terror organization has taken advantage of safe haven. The group has cemented its control southern and central Somalia, they have used this area to plot and direct terror attacks, steal humanitarian aid, and to shelter other radical terrorists.
U.S. forces will use all effective and appropriate methods to protect Americans, including partnered military counter-terror operations with AMISOM and Somali National Army (SNA) forces; precision strikes against terrorists, their training camps and safe havens; and hunting and tracking members of this al-Qaeda affiliate throughout Somalia, the region and around the world.