A U.S. military operation in northern Somalia killed a senior leader of the Islamic State terrorist group and 10 other ISIS fighters on Wednesday night, according to two senior administration officials.
Bilal al Sudani, who the officials described as a key operative and facilitator of the terror group’s global network, was the target of the raid. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said in a statement that al-Sudani was “responsible for fostering the growing presence of ISIS in Africa and funding the group’s operations worldwide, including in Afghanistan.”
President Joe Biden ordered the operation after Austin and Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, recommended it.
The officials said no civilians were wounded or killed in the operation, but they did not identify any of the 10 others killed beyond characterizing them as ISIS operatives. The only injury the officials reported was a U.S. service member who was bitten by one of the American military service dogs.
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The operation took place in a mountainous area in northern Somalia and followed months of planning, the officials said.
“[There were] extensive rehearsals of the operation itself by our military forces,” one senior administration official said, “including at sites specifically built to recreate the terrain where the operation ultimately needed to take place … [T]he actual execution [was] careful, precise and effective.”
The operation yielded some intelligence, but the senior administration officials declined to provide specifics.
“Our intelligence community expects to glean valuable information from this operation as well, demonstrating our continued emphasis on maximizing intelligence collection,” one official said.