In the latest development concerning the fight against al-Shabab, the United States carried out an airstrike targeting the notorious militant group. The intended target was revealed to be none other than Moallim Osman, the head of al-Shabab’s external operations. While reports suggest that he survived the attack, this event has significant implications for Somalia’s ongoing struggle against terrorism.
The U.S. Africa Command’s Statement
According to reliable sources, including a defector from al-Shabab, Moallim Osman, also known as Osman Mohamed Abdi, was the primary target of the recent U.S. airstrike. The Somali Ministry of Information has corroborated this information, affirming his role in recruiting foreign fighters to bolster al-Shabab’s ranks. Although the U.S. Africa Command spokesperson stated that an al-Shabab leader was injured, it appears that Moallim Osman managed to evade the strike.
The Location and Civilian Casualties
The airstrike took place in Jilib, a stronghold of al-Shabab situated southwest of Mogadishu. Thankfully, the initial assessment by the U.S. Africa Command indicates that no civilian casualties occurred during the operation. This is an essential aspect to highlight, as protecting innocent lives remains a top priority for Somalia and its international partners in the fight against terrorism.
Moallim Osman’s Role and involvements
Moallim Osman is a seasoned commander within al-Shabab, having held several influential positions, including that of defense chief. He played a significant role in planning the infamous attack on the African Union military base in El Adde, which resulted in the tragic loss of more than 140 Kenyan troops. This attack acknowledged as the deadliest on peacekeepers in Somalia, remains a painful memory for both Somalia and Kenya. Moreover, it is worth mentioning that El Adde is Moallim Osman’s hometown, further emphasizing the personal connection to his involvement.
Ongoing Threats and Cross-Border Operations
Somali officials reveal that Moallim Osman’s current responsibilities extend beyond Somalia’s borders. He is allegedly supervising al-Shabab’s activities in neighboring Kenya, where the group has continuously targeted security forces. Additionally, he played a crucial role in orchestrating al-Shabab’s opportunistic incursion into eastern Ethiopia in the previous year. These actions demonstrate the complex challenges faced by regional countries and the importance of coordinated efforts in tackling the threat posed by al-Shabab.
Coinciding Visit of Somali Intelligence Director
It is worth noting that the airstrike occurred while Mahad Salad, the director of Somalia’s National Intelligence and Security Agency, was visiting the United States. During his visit, he engaged in productive discussions with officials from the Pentagon, CIA, and FBI, focusing on strengthening security and counterterrorism cooperation between Somalia and the United States. This timing underscores the significance of ongoing collaborations in combating extremism and ensuring stability in the region.1