In Somalia, a U.S. drone strike has killed two members of the militant Islamic group Al-Shabaab, but it is still unknown who the intended target of the attack was. U.S. officials have declined commenting on the record, but officials under the condition of anonymity said that “We’ll know more tomorrow.”
The information about the two casualties, one being Sahal Iskudhuq, a known member of the Somali rebel group Al-Shabaab, and the other, his driver, came from the group itself. Al-Shabaab has been quite active in recent months, plotting and carrying out various attacks across the country and the region. The most infamous of which was the Nairobi Westgate Mall shooting back in September of 2013, which lasted for several days and claimed the lives of at least 67 people.
The group has grown in size, and has a considerable network of other Islamic militant organizations. Al-Shabaab is said to control large swaths of territory in Somalia, and are responsible for various anti-government attacks in recent years.
The last U.S. military attack carried out against Al-Shabaad involved a successful military strike against a convoy carrying senior members of the group. Among those dead was one of Al-Shabaab’s top explosives expert, a substantial blow to the group’s offensive operations. Still analysts say, there is no shortage of skilled individuals willing to work for a group that pays relatively well in comparison to the average living wage in Somalia. The average wage in Somalia is the equivalent of $100 (USD) a month. Al-Shabaab can well exceed that to members willing to take up arms and fight against specified targets.
Meanwhile, The U.N. Security Council resolution approved the African Union Peacekeeping Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) in January. Ethiopia announced that they would officially join the peacekeeping mission sponsored by the African Union.
AMISOM, which has now brought 4,395 Ethiopian soldiers to their ranks, totals over 22,000 active peacekeeping troops, something which the U.N. and the African Union hope will deter the group from carrying out further attacks.
Despite the intent of bringing more troops to secure the region and discourage Al-Shabaab from operating, just the opposite has happened. Al-Shabaab spokesperson Ali Mohamud Rageh made a statement saying that the group would plot “new attacks,” against foreign forces and that the “Somali people must intensify their war against AMISOM.”
Somalia is one the most lawless countries in the world, as well as one of the poorest. The growing despair and humanitarian crisis in the country has only spiraled since Somalia’s government has lost control of the country. The seven year long insurgency by the group which aims to impose a strict interpretation of sharia law has seemingly gotten worse, with hundreds dieing everyday from various correlated causes such as disease, violence, and hunger.
Humanitarian group workers are at risk of being kidnapped and killed by the rebel group as they try serving affected communities, making their jobs not only much more difficult, but highly dangerous.
The U.S. has attempted to strengthen its presence in the region, by establishing troops in the Somali capital of Mogadishu. Still, U.S. officials say the most effective way of tracking and attacking the group is through unmanned drones.
by John Amaruso