US Kills Islamic State Leader in Raid

January 27, 2023

On orders from the President, the U.S. military conducted an assault operation in northern Somalia that resulted in the death of a number of ISIS members, including Bilal-al-Sudani, an ISIS leader in Somalia and a key facilitator for ISIS’s global network.

United States Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin in a statement on a military raid conducted in a remote part of Somalia on Wednesday

Why It Matters: American officials explained that al-Sudani played a key role in growing the presence of ISIS in Africa and distributed funds to ISIS affiliates across at least three continents. He is described as “one of the terrorist group’s top financial operatives” whose influence extended “even to the ISIS branch in Afghanistan that carried out the August 2021 bombing at Kabul’s international airport that killed 13 American service members” (The New York Times). Before he joined ISIS, he was part of the terrorist group al-Shabaab and financed violent extremists in Somalia.

  • Background: The raid, which took place in a cave complex, was originally intended to be a capture mission but “the hostile forces’ response to the operation resulted in his death,” a senior administration official said.
  • As part of the preparation for the mission, a senior administration official explained that the military conducted “extensive rehearsals of the operation itself … including at sites specifically built to recreate the terrain where the operation ultimately needed to take place.”
  • The specific Special Operations unit that carried out the raid has not been revealed.

Senior ISIS Leader in Somalia Killed in U.S. Special Operations Raid (The New York Times)

Top Islamic State leader killed in US raid in Somalia, officials say (ABC News)

Statement by Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III on Somalia Operation

Background Press Call by Senior Administration Officials on a Successful Counterterrorism Operation in Somalia

by Jenna Lee,