Africa

Somalia: US military launches second strike in a month on terrorist targets

US-military-launches-second-strike-in-a-month-on-terrorist-targets-in-Somalia

Pentagon press secretary, said an airstrike conducted on Thursday targeted Hassan Ali Dhoore, a ‘senior leader’ of the Somali terror group al-Shabaab

The US military has launched its second strike in a month on terrorist targets in Somalia, a country against which the US has never declared war.

Peter Cook, the Pentagon press secretary, said an airstrike conducted on Thursday targeted a “senior leader” of the Somali terror group al-Shabaab.

The Pentagon said it did not yet know if the strike killed the target, Hassan Ali Dhoore.

Cook did not provide any assessment of civilian or militant casualties. It was not possible by press time to independently verify the Pentagon account.

On 5 March, US-piloted warplanes and drones attacked a Somali training camp for al-Shabaab, killing more than 100 people. While the exact death toll is disputed, according to an eyewitness and other local sources contacted by the Guardian, the strike was likely the single most lethal conducted by the US for a counterterrorism operation since 9/11.

The US is not at war with Somalia. Cook claimed al-Shabaab was “part of al-Qaida”, which would place asserted legal authority for the strike under the umbrella of the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force.

The so-called AUMF is a broad wellspring of counterterrorism authorities meant to respond to the 9/11 attacks, which predate the existence of al-Shabaab.

A 2012 video, believed to be authentic, announced the merger of al-Shabaab and al-Qaida.

Cook said Dhore played a “direct role” in a December 2014 attack on the Mogadishu airport that killed three African Union troops and a US citizen, and said he was “directly responsible” for a March 2015 attack on a Mogadishu hotel that killed 15.

Cook also asserted that Dhore was “ believed to have been plotting attacks targeting US citizens in Mogadishu”, but did not provide a basis for the statement.

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