- The Washington Times - Monday, April 15, 2019

The head of the Islamic State’s Somalia faction was killed in a U.S. airstrike, less than a week after the Trump White House declared the national security threat posed by the east African nation constituted a national emergency.

The strike that killed Abdulhakim Dhuqub, the second in command for ISIS-Somalia, took place Sunday near the Somali city of Xiriiro in the country’s Bari Region, officials from U.S. Africa Command said Monday.

In conjunction with the Somali-based terror group al-Shabaab, Dhuqub was responsible “for the daily operations … attack planning, and resource procurement” for ISIS-Somalia, command officials said in a statement. Earlier this month, U.S. warplanes took out two al-Shabaab fighters in an April 11 airstrike in Somalia’s Lower Shabelle Region, Africa Command leaders said at the time.

“We continue to work with our Somali partners to keep pressure on the al-Shabaab and ISIS-Somalia terror networks. … We use precision airstrikes to target those who plan and carry out the violent extremist activities that put Somalis at risk,” said Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Gregg Olson, U.S. Africa Command director of operations.

Mr. Trump declared a national emergency on April 10 over the terrorist threat posed by ISIS and al-Shabaab in Somalia. The declaration was necessary “to deal with the unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States constituted by the deterioration of the security situation and the persistence of violence” in the country, according to the White House.

But the Pentagon is already moving forward with plans to slash the number of American counterterrorism forces in Somalia, and across Africa, by 10 percent over the next three years.

Nearly 300 American special operations troops will be permanently pulled from the continent between June 2020 and January 2022, former command chief Gen. Thomas Waldhauser told Military Times in February.

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