Al-Shabaab terrorist Abdullahi Nadir killed in Somalia airstrike
The co-founder of al-Shabaab, al-Qaeda’s most deadly affiliate, has been killed in Somalia in a joint military operation by local forces and the US military — the biggest strike against the jihadists since President Biden redeployed troops to the country earlier this year.
Abdullahi Nadir, who had a $3 million bounty on his head, was killed on Saturday in southwest Somalia, the government in Mogadishu said. US Africa Command said a leader of al-Shabaab had died in the airstrike targeting the world’s “largest and most kinetically active al-Qaeda network”, which was capable of attacking US targets.
President Hassan Sheikh promised a “total war” against al-Shabaab after his election in May, and President Biden signed off a Pentagon request for standing authority to target a dozen suspected leaders of al-Shabaab. This was part of a redeployment of several hundred US troops, reversing President Trump’s decision to withdraw 700 ground troops.
Nadir had been due to take over the leadership of al-Shabaab, which has killed tens of thousands of people since 2006 in its efforts to overthrow the western-backed authorities and impose Sharia.
The extremist group did not respond to reports on Monday of Nadir’s killing, but were swift to claim responsibility for a double suicide bombing that killed at least 20 people and injured 36 others. Senior regional officials and soldiers were among the dead after two cars loaded with explosives were detonated minutes apart outside a local government building in the central city of Beledweyne.
The recently departed head of the United States Africa Command labelled al-Shabaab the continent’s “greatest threat”, saying that it could strike American targets beyond its shores. Mogadishu’s information ministry likened Nadir’s death to “a thorn removed from Somalia”.
Hiran region, where Nadir was killed, is about 190 miles north of Mogadishu and has been the centre of a recent mobilisation against the militants. Al-Shabaab capitalised on the long period of political dysfunction that finally ended with elections in May, and on the US troop withdrawal. Its attacks over the last year have been increasingly brazen and included a 30-hour hotel siege in Mogadishu that killed 21 people.
Analysts have warned that terrorism will not be ended by raids and strikes alone. The Horn of Africa region, which includes Somalia, is in the grip of the worst drought in decades and millions of people are close to starving.
Source: The Times