- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 25, 2020

A recent U.S. airstrike in Somalia killed a key al-Shabaab leader who was responsible for planning for last month’s deadly attack on an American military post in Kenya, the Pentagon said Tuesday.

Military officials said the Feb. 22 strike near Saakow, Somalia, killed the terrorist figure and his wife, who also was a “witting and active member of al-Shabaab.”

The Pentagon did not identify the two individuals by name.

“Since Jan. 5, U.S. Africa Command and our partners have pursued those responsible for the attack on U.S. and Kenyan forces at Manda Bay,” said U.S. Army Gen. Stephen Townsend, commander of U.S. Africa Command, which oversees all American military activity on the continent. “This strike demonstrates that we will continue to relentlessly pursue those responsible for Manda Bay and those wishing to do harm to Americans and our African partners.”

Al-Shabaab, a top al Qaeda affiliate, has increasingly targeted U.S. military assets in the region. The most high profile of those attacks came Jan. 5 when al-Shabaab fighters stormed a U.S. airfield at Manda Bay.

A U.S. soldier and two American contractors were killed in the assault. The attack again cast a spotlight on often shadowy U.S. military activities in Kenya and Somalia, where American forces are stationed in a mostly support role to train and advise local forces.

While American forces see little in the way of ground combat, the Trump administration has dramatically increased the number of airstrikes against al-Shabaab and Islamic State targets in Somalia.

Al-Shabaab, an al Qaeda affiliate, is an evil and remorseless enemy of peace, stability, and freedom in East Africa and threatens the very way of life of people there, as well as Americans and U.S. interest in the region and abroad,” Gen. Townsend said.

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