Pentagon Confirms: Top ISIS Leader In Libya Taken Out By Missile Strike

Jonah Bennett | National Security/Politics Reporter

A U.S. F-15 aircraft just took out a senior Islamic State leader in Libya, the Pentagon confirmed Monday.

The airstrike actually occurred Nov. 13, when an F-15 hit a compound in Derna, Libya, at which point Abu Nabil, a senior leader of the ISIS branch in Libya was eviscerated, Reuters reports.

When the strike was first announced in November, the Pentagon said that it proves the U.S. will target ISIS operatives regardless of geographical location. U.S. officials said with confidence that Nabil was killed in the strike, though confirmation only officially came Monday.

“Nabil’s death will degrade Isil’s ability to meet the group’s objectives in Libya, including recruiting new Isil members, establishing bases in Libya, and planning external attacks on the United States,” Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said in a Nov. 14 statement.

The missile strike occurred before the attacks in Paris.

The Pentagon viewed follow-up confirmation as necessary, since the strike in November counted as the second instance, in which Nabil was declared dead. Previously, Nabil was reportedly captured by a rival Islamist group and hanged, though that event did not occur.

The death carries significance.

Nabil gained a more public reputation after allegedly appearing in a video showing the execution of Coptic Christians in February. The video further threatened “people of the cross.” His death means that one of the three ISIS factions in Libya is left without a leader. The three factions have rapidly developed following the power vacuum left by the downfall of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi. Before taking control of an ISIS faction, Nabil served as a long-time al-Qaida operative.

ISIS now controls the city of Sirte in Libya.

Pentagon spokesman Captain Jeff Davis also confirmed that another strike conducted on Dec. 3 resulted in the death of Abdirahman Sandhere, a senior leader of al Shabaab, which is an affiliate group of al-Qaida.

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