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Tags: drone | kills | ayman | al | shabaab | attack | somalia

US Drone Kills Alleged Mastermind of 2020 Somalia Attack

By    |   Friday, 22 December 2023 04:17 PM EST

In a targeted drone strike, Maalim Ayman, the purported architect of the deadly 2020 assault on a Kenyan air base that claimed three American lives, was killed in Somalia, as confirmed by Somali and U.S. authorities on Friday.

A senior U.S. defense official verified Ayman's demise, emphasizing the significance of this action in the fight against terrorism. Somali Information Minister Daud Aweis expressed the Somali government's commitment to holding those accountable for acts of violence against its people, underscoring the resolve behind Ayman's elimination, reported The Wall Street Journal.

Al-Shabaab, deemed by the U.S. as al-Qaida's most formidable global affiliate, has long held control over strategic regions in Somalia, posing a threat to vital sea lanes off East Africa. Over the past 16 years, American forces have engaged in a discreet campaign against this Islamist extremist group in Somalia.

Ayman, identified as the mastermind behind the Jan. 5, 2020, attack on Kenya's Manda Bay Airfield, resulting in the death of one U.S. soldier and two contractors with three other Americans wounded, faced accusations from the U.S. State Department. Al-Shabaab, responsible for numerous deaths, including U.S. citizens, continues to be a persistent threat, "planning and conspiring" against the United States and its allies, according to the State Department.

Earlier this year, the State Department offered a $10 million reward for information leading to Ayman's arrest or conviction, emphasizing the urgency of bringing him to justice.

Manda Bay Airfield, located 60 miles from the Somalia border, serves as a crucial base for U.S. and Kenyan forces in their joint efforts to combat al-Shabaab. The airstrike targeting Ayman occurred in Jilib, a southern region where al-Shabaab maintains a stronghold despite the Somali government's offensive last year.

U.S. Africa Command, in a statement announcing the strike, hailed the operation as a significant advancement in Somalia's pursuit of "peace and development," acknowledging the ongoing efforts to dismantle the terrorist group.

The airstrike comes amid continued collaboration between U.S. and Kenyan forces, with the former utilizing the Manda Bay base for counterterrorism operations. The U.S. maintains several hundred troops in Somalia, actively engaging in training local commandos and coordinating drone strikes from a neighboring base in Djibouti.

Kenya's involvement in combating al-Shabaab dates back to the deployment of its troops in Somalia. In response, al-Shabaab has targeted civilians in Kenya, notably with the 2013 Westgate shopping mall attack in Nairobi and the 2015 massacre at a university in Garissa County, bordering Somalia.

Jim Thomas

Jim Thomas is a writer based in Indiana. He holds a bachelor's degree in Political Science, a law degree from U.I.C. Law School, and has practiced law for more than 20 years.

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In a targeted drone strike, Maalim Ayman, the purported architect of the deadly 2020 assault on a Kenyan air base that claimed three American lives, was killed in Somalia, as confirmed by Somali and U.S. authorities on Friday. A senior U.S. defense official verified Ayman's ...
drone, kills, ayman, al, shabaab, attack, somalia
408
2023-17-22
Friday, 22 December 2023 04:17 PM
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