U.S. says it has killed top So­mali ex­trem­ist

Mil­i­tary con­firms it took out al-Shabab com­man­der July 30.

Austin American-Statesman - - FRONT PAGE - By Abdi Guled

An airstrike on July 30 took out Ali Mo­hamed Hus­sein, a high-level al-Shabab com­man­der.

The U.S. mil­i­tary on Fri­day con­firmed it killed a high-level com­man­der of the al-Shabab ex­trem­ist group with an airstrike in So­ma­lia last week­end, tar­get­ing a man blamed for plan­ning deadly at­tacks in the cap­i­tal of the Horn of Africa na­tion.

But the car­nage con­tin­ued, with at least two peo­ple killed in an ap­par­ent car bomb blast on a ma­jor street in So­ma­lia’s cap­i­tal Fri­day evening, po­lice said. Five other peo­ple were in­jured.

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump ear­lier this year ap­proved ex­panded mil­i­tary op­er­a­tions against the al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab, in­clud­ing more ag­gres­sive airstrikes and con­sid­er­ing parts of south­ern So­ma­lia ar­eas of ac­tive hos­til­i­ties. Al-Shabab is the dead­li­est Is­lamic ex­trem­ist group in Africa.

A U.S. Africa Com­mand state­ment said the strike on July 30 killed Ali Mo­hamed Hus­sein, also known as Ali Ja­bal. He is the high­est-level al-Shabab com­man­der killed this year.

The state­ment said he was “was re­spon­si­ble for lead­ing al-Shabab forces op­er­at­ing in the Mogadishu and Banadiir re­gions in plan­ning and ex­e­cut­ing at­tacks against the cap­i­tal of Mogadishu.”

Ali also had served as the ex­trem­ist group’s shadow gover­nor for Mogadishu and had been one of al-Shabab’s most out­spo­ken of­fi­cials. In his last pub­lic speech ear­lier this year, he boasted that the ex­trem­ist group had the up­per hand in guer­rilla war­fare against So­ma­lia’s gov­ern­ment in the cap­i­tal.

The U.S. state­ment said the airstrike oc­curred near Tor­toroow, an al-Shabab strong­hold in Lower Sha­belle re­gion in south­ern So­ma­lia “as a di­rect re­sponse to al-Shabab ac­tions, in­clud­ing re­cent at­tacks on So­mali forces.” It said no civil­ians were killed in the strike.

The U.S. Africa Com­mand has said it was a drone strike.

Al-Shabab of­ten car­ries out deadly at­tacks on high-pro­file tar­gets in Mogadishu, in­clud­ing So­mali mil­i­tary and African Union check­points and fa­cil­i­ties, ho­tels and the area around the pres­i­den­tial palace. The ex­trem­ist group also has car­ried out deadly at­tacks in neigh­bor­ing coun­tries, notably Kenya, call­ing it ret­ri­bu­tion for send­ing troops to So­ma­lia to fight it.

The killing of Ali “dis­rupts al-Shabab’s abil­ity to plan and con­duct at­tacks in Mogadishu and co­or­di­nate ef­forts be­tween Al-Shabab re­gional com­man­ders,” the U.S. state­ment said.

FARAH ABDI WARSAMEH / AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

A So­mali po­lice­man walks near the wreck­age of a car bomb det­o­nated in Mogadishu, So­ma­lia, on Fri­day. At least two peo­ple were killed and sev­eral oth­ers wounded in the blast in So­ma­lia’s cap­i­tal, po­lice said.

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