Terrorist group al-Shabaab’s attack on a hotel in the Somalian capital of Mogadishu may have been a retaliation to a U.S. strike targeting one of the terrorist group’s top leaders.
The Pentagon confirmed early Wednesday afternoon that U.S. military forces targeted al-Shabaab leader Ma’alim Da’ud (AKA Abdullahi Haji Daud) in a drone strike last Friday. Daud was responsible for the terrorist group’s planning, recruiting and training operations. He is responsible for having a hand in planning the group’s attacks in Somalia, Kenya and Uganda, in addition to various western targets. The U.S. government previously put a $5 million bounty on Da’ud’s head due to his terrorist activities.
“We are confident that the removal from the terrorist network of this experienced al-Shabab commander with extensive operational experience will disrupt near-term attack planning, potentially saving many innocent lives,” said Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook in press statement.
Al-Shabaab conducted an attack on the Ambassador Hotel in Mogadishu just hours before Cook’s announcement. The militants initially set off a massive car bomb that rocked the city, following it up by storming the hotel itself, leaving at least 10 dead. A report by Al Jazeera claimed two of the dead are Somalian members of parliament.
Al-Shabaab is an al-Qaida linked terrorist organization that has conducted numerous terrorist attacks in and around the region. One of the group’s more notorious attacks took place at Garissa University last April, leaving 148 dead.
The terrorist group diminished in power due to both a push back from the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and internal fracturing, which saw a splinter group leave and pledge allegiance to the Islamic State in December.
The U.S. maintains a small presence near Mogadishu, comprised mostly of members from the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), where it conducts raids and drone strikes.
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