The US terminated Bilal al-Sudan, a senior ISIS leader residing in Somalia, along with 10 additional members of the terrorist group in a counterterrorism mission that found zero American military casualties across the operation.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said in a statement on Thursday, "On January 25, on orders from the President, the US 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, according to CNN.
"Al-Sudani was responsible for fostering the growing presence of ISIS in Africa and for funding the group’s operations worldwide, including in Afghanistan," Austin added.
According to Fox News, Military officials said on Thursday the operation took "extraordinary coordination and careful planning across all elements of the US government for many months"
The military officials told Fox that al-Sudani was using Africa as a base to expand ISIS' global network. He was funding operations and was focusing on expansion in Africa and Afghanistan.
Austin said, "This action leaves the United States and its partners safer and more secure, and it reflects our steadfast commitment to protecting Americans from the threat of terrorism at home and abroad."
US Africa Command said, "Protecting civilians remains a vital part of the command’s operations to promote greater security for all Africans."
Joe Biden authorized the mission after planning reached a "critical stage" last week and after the recommendations of Austin and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley.
One official told Fox that the mission was originally intended as a capture and said, "An intended capture operation was ultimately determined to be the best option to maximize the intelligence value of the operation and increase its precision in challenging terrain."
"At the same time, and based on extensive past experience, we recognize that even an intended capture operation might well result in al-Sudani’s death — as it ultimately did," the official added.
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