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US airstrike killed a top terrorist leader of Al-Qaeda affiliate in Somalia

MQ-9 Reaper during Exercise Northern Strike 2019. (Arizona Air National Guard/Released)
April 07, 2020

A high-ranking of the Somali Al-Qaeda affiliate Al-Shabaab was killed in a recent U.S. airstrike, according to a U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) statement provided to American Military News.

Yusuf Jiis was one of three members of the Al-Shabaab terror group killed in Thursday airstrike which was carried out in coordination between AFRICOM and the Federal Government of Somalia. In their latest press statement, AFRICOM determined Jiis was among those killed in the April 2 strike.

The strike took place near the Somalian city of Bush Madina, approximately 135 miles west of Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu.

“The terrorist, Yusuf Jiis, was one of the foundational members of the terrorist group and held many significant positions that facilitated al-Shabaab’s violent and harmful activities throughout East Africa,” the AFRICOM statement reads.

“This individual was a key leader in the al-Shabaab organization,” said U.S. Army Gen. Stephen Townsend, the AFRICOM commander. “He was violent, ruthless, and responsible for the loss of many innocent lives. His removal makes Somalia and neighboring countries safer.”

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The strike against the Jiis is just one of several conducted by AFRICOM in the last week. Dozens of U.S. strikes have targeted Al-Shabaab since the start of the year. AFRICOM set a record for airstrikes in 2019, having conducted more than 60 airstrikes in Somalia over the year. They previously conducted 47 airstrikes in 2018 and 35 in 2017.

“While we might like to pause our operations in Somalia because of the Coronavirus, the leaders of al-Qaeda, al-Shabaab and ISIS have announced that they see this crisis as an opportunity to further their terrorist agenda so we will continue to stand with and support our African partners,” Townsend said.

AFRICOM’s stated mission in Somalia is to assist the Federal Government of Somalia through efforts to deter Al-Shabaab and offshoots of ISIS in Somalia. AFRICOM assessed that its efforts alongside the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and the Somali National Army (SNA) have helped the Somali federal government make gains in Al-Shabaab strongholds.

“Al-Shabaab remains a disease in Somalia and is an indiscriminate killer of innocent people and their only desire is to brutalize populations inside Somalia and outside of Somalia,” U.S. Army Maj. Gen. William Gayler, the director of operations for AFRICOM, said. “Putting pressure on this network helps contain their ambition and desire to cause harm and destruction.”