U.S. special operations forces this week killed Bilal al-Sudani, an Islamic State leader operating in northern Somalia, senior administration officials announced on Thursday.
Al-Sudani and 10 Islamic State group associates died in the raid. Conversely, no American personnel or civilians were injured in the operation, officials said.
Administration officials said that al-Sudani was a key figure in funding Islamic State Group cells around the globe and actively working to expand the group’s operational power. They describe him as “a terrorist of significance” and said intelligence gathered in the raid will help inform future counter-terrorism efforts.
In a statement, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said that al-Sudani’s death ”leaves the United States and its partners safer and more secure, and it reflects our steadfast commitment to protecting Americans from the threat of terrorism at home and abroad.”
Troops involved in the mission had hoped to capture al-Sudani alive, but officials with knowledge of the operation said that the “hostile force response” to the action prevented that.
Administration officials did not release how many troops took part in the raid. They did confirm that military working dogs were part of the force deployed to go after al-Sudani.
Earlier on Thursday, United States Africa Command said in a news release that military forces “conducted a successful counterterrorism operation in Somalia” in a remote area of the country. They did not release further details.
Last May, U.S. military forces in the region shifted from a part-time presence in the country to a “persistent” deployment of several hundred troops.
Both the Islamic State and al-Shabab extremist groups operate in the region. U.S. officials have worked in recent years to try and oversee ungoverned spaces in the country that terrorists can use as a base of operations for future attacks.
Leo covers Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House for Military Times. He has covered Washington, D.C. since 2004, focusing on military personnel and veterans policies. His work has earned numerous honors, including a 2009 Polk award, a 2010 National Headliner Award, the IAVA Leadership in Journalism award and the VFW News Media award.