A CIA officer was killed during a raid in Somalia last month, with a major extremist believed to be responsible for the attack that killed an American soldier in Kenya last year, local intelligence officials have told the Guardian.
The officer was stationed with Somali and US special forces during an operation in Gendashe, a coastal village about 30 miles southwest of Mogadishu, when al-Shabaab extremist movement fighters launched a raid on 6 minutes A few minutes later a car driver was killed. November, the official said.
A Somali intelligence officer who works with the US-trained Somali “Danab” Special Forces unit in Lower Shabele said: “Our officers were supported by American officers. We flew at 2 that night. The soldiers. Got off the helicopter and set foot in the bush before a big explosion and killed an American friend and four of our people [Somali] Officials. “
Somali officials said the operation was started after information about three senior al-Shabaab commanders would be in Gander that night. One of them was expert bomb maker Abdullahi Usman Mohammed, who believed that hundreds of civilians have been killed in Somalia in recent years.
Mohammed, also known as “Engineer Ismail”, was recently listed by the US government as a “specially designated global terrorist”, a move that would freeze any assets in US denominations And prohibits Americans from doing any business with him.
The list states that the 36-year-old group’s senior explosives expert is the head of al-Shabaab’s media wing and a key adviser to the movement’s leader or Ahmed Diriyy.
Mohammed is also believed to have mastered a series of attacks last year, including an attack on a military base in Kenya in January that killed an American soldier and two US contractors.
But the Ganderchee raid was a failure. After 40 minutes of shelling, the US and Somali forces retreated. The operation was not successful. We did not meet them, ”said another Somali official.
Al-Shabaab sources confirmed the clash, and claimed that they had already ambushed the US and Somali forces after learning of the operation. “US troops along with Somali soldiers raided the al-Shabaab base in Gander. We had received intelligence that they were coming. We were ready and a fierce gun battle ensued. Several officers were killed, including a CIA officer, ”al-Shabaab commander Abu Mohammed in Lower Shabele told the Guardian. .
The identity of the CIA officer is not known, but the New York Times reported that he was a member of the CIA’s paramilitary division, the Special Activity Center, and a former Navy SEAL. CIA officers sometimes accompany military units to help identify targets or gather intelligence during counter-terrorism raids.
The CIA declined to comment when contacted by the Guardian.
In recent years, the US has made relatively few casualties in ongoing military operations targeting Islamic extremists, but in 2017 a bloody incident killed four US soldiers while they were ambushed in Niger.
Those deaths – which were the worst encounters for American troops in Africa for more than 20 years – prompted a fierce debate over US military involvement on the continent and the international threat posed by extremists there. There are more than 5,000 military personnel under the US Africa Military Command on the continent, most of whom are based on a major base in Djibouti in the Red Sea.
According to the most recent figures, 650 to 800 soldiers are operating in Somalia. The Pentagon is expected to withdraw all or most of the US forces involved in training and counter-terrorism operations in the country by January, according to the President’s instructions to bring domestic troops into the Middle East and Afghanistan.
Local officials and experts say such a move would significantly harm local counter-terrorism efforts, particularly in the form of Somalia’s Danab special forces, which rely heavily on US logistics aid, intelligence and training.
The US, regional allies and Somalis have struggled to find an effective strategy to counter al-Shabaab, a hard-line and ruthless organization that emerged nearly 15 years ago. Analysts say a swift campaign of drone strikes has killed senior commanders and disrupted the group’s activities, but did not make a major strategic impact.
Maelim Ayman, the leader of the al-Shabaab unit that carried out the attacks and operations in Kenya and Somalia, was listed as a global terrorist by the US State Department last month.
In al-Shabaab’s most recent bomb attack, at least seven people were killed and several others injured in an ice cream parlor in Mogadishu on Saturday. Two weeks ago, five died in another suicide attack at a restaurant near a police academy in the city.
America’s years of efforts to fight extremism in Africa and the capabilities of local countries have yielded mixed results. A recent official report by US government watchers on counter-terrorism efforts in Africa noted that North African organizations such as the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and al-Qaeda in Isis-Libya were “greatly humiliated”, but in West Africa, Islamic The extremists continued to expand.
Over the weekend, three major targets of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force and French troops were simultaneously attacked by rockets in Mali, while more than 110 people were killed in a massacre in northeastern Nigeria fired on the Boko Haram group.