U.S. airstrikes targeted Somalia after an Al-Shabaab Chief was found to harbor ties to Al-Qaeda. Although United States (US) military officials have not confirmed the death, locals reported seeing Mohamed Mwalimu and four others eliminated by a missile strike when driving in a remote part of southern Somalia.
U.S. officials have not released who their target was. All that is known for sure is that the US has been working with Somalia to eliminate Al-Shabaab, Al-Qaeda’s main support group in East Africa. US military officials assured the media that their target was a part of both terrorist organizations; Al-Shabaab and Al-Qaeda. Sahal Iskudhuq, an Al-Shabaab high-ranking officer, who was especially close to Al-Shabaab leader Ahmed Godane, was also rumored to have been with Mwalimu during the airstrike.
The US has been targeting its efforts in Somalia by sending Navy SEAL teams to Barawe and military strategists to Mogadishu to help combat the growing violence orchestrated by the Al-Shabaab regime. Al-Shabaab was responsible for a mall shooting in Kenya, along with a Uganda bombing during the 2010 World Cup final that killed over 70 people. Since the incidents, African countries have unionized together to help repress the growing terrorism units in south-central Somalia, a country in virtual anarchy for over two decades.
As of now, Somalia consists of Pro-government administrations supported by Ethiopian and local militia who control mostly the northern and eastern boarders of the country. The southern border, and a small central portion containing Mogadishu, is controlled by the African Union. The north has split into three components. There is Somaliland, a self-declared independent region, and Puntland, separated by a disputed area. The rest of the country is ruled by Islamic extremists.
Somalia has a history of being an US airstrike target. This latest is no surprise to most, especially considering the harboring of ties to chiefs of Al-Qaeda and Al-Shabaab. In 2007, the US sent an airstrike targeting Al-Shabaab commander Aden Hashi Ayro, who was later reported only injured in the attempt. In 2008, the US would complete a successful airstrike, eliminating Ayro. It has been reported that since 2012, Al-Qaeda and Al-Shabaab have successfully merged groups in an attempt to turn Somalia into a Islamic military state. Their main retaliation agenda is to combat the African Union Mission in Somalia, known as AMISOM. AMISOM’s goal is to support Somali government and to bring down Al-Shabaab.
Al-Shabaab, since 2012, has warranted the military efforts of the U.S. by merging with Al-Qaeda, something which many feel will result in their demise. Al-Shabaab leaders have ordered an internet ban on telecom stations in Somalia, hoping to continue to be the main influence on the depressed youth of Somalia. Somalians have gone through plenty of turmoil in the last twenty years, resulting in a desperate economy and extreme acts violence.
The anger of Somalians persists as their deprivation is lowered to a feeling of comfort, a point where they aspire to a collective action. Influenced by the powerful readings of the Koran, they become compelled by martyrdom and the belief that they will be rewarded by these ”acts of vengeance.” With the growing influence of Al-Shabaad and Al-Qaeda, U.S. airstrikes will continue their attempt in eliminating chief targets harbored by Somalia.
By Zane Foley