U.S. Confirms Deaths of Senior Islamic State, al-Shabaab Leaders

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U.S. military airstrikes have killed an Islamic State top commander in Libya and a senior leader of al-Shabaab in Somalia, Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said.

Abu Nabil, also known as Wissam Najm Abd Zayd al Zubaydi, is dead as a result of a U.S. military airstrike on Nov. 13 in Libya, Cook said in an e-mailed statement on Monday. Nabil was an Iraqi national and longtime al-Qaeda operative.

It was the first strike against an Islamic State leader in the North African nation, Cook said. “It demonstrates we will go after ISIL leaders wherever they operate,” he said, using an acronym for Islamic State.

In Somalia a senior leader of the Islamic militant al-Shabaab group, Abdirahman Sandhere, also known as Ukash, was killed in a U.S. airstrike on Dec. 2, along with two of his associates, said Cook. The strikes are part of a broader campaign by Somali government and African Union forces to end al-Shabaab’s nine-year bid to establish Islamic law.

The announcement comes as another al-Shabaab fighter who is believed to be an American defected from the group, said Hussein Mohammed Barre, the mayor of the port town of Barawe, on Monday. There is increasing friction within al-Shabaab between a group of militants who pledged their allegiance to Islamic State and those who remain loyal to al-Qaeda, said Barre.

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