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Pentagon Targeted Al-Shabaab Leader in Somalia Strike

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Ahmed Abdi al-Muhammad, also known as Ahmed Godane in an undated photo

Ahmed Abdi al-Muhammad, also known as Ahmed Godane in an undated photo

The Pentagon does not yet know if it managed to eliminate the leader of the Al-Shabaab terrorist network during a Monday air strike inside Somalia.

The target of the raid was a man by the name of Ahmed Abdi al-Muhammad, also known as Ahmed Godane, who claimed responsibility for the Westgate Mall attack in Nairobi, Kenya, in 2013.

“We are still assessing the results of the operation, and we’ll provide additional information when and if appropriate,” Pentagon press secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby told reporters on Sept. 2.
“And I’m not going to be able to provide specifics about the unit or the intelligence itself, and certainly not anything regarded to tactics, techniques and procedures.”

Kirby said that the air strike, which involved no US ground forces, took place in the Somali capital of Mogadishu. The air raid destroyed a vehicles and an encampment filled with suspected Al-Shabaab leaders including Godane.

“Yesterday, at approximately 11:20 Eastern Time, working from actionable intelligence, U.S. special operations forces using manned and unmanned aircraft destroyed an encampment and a vehicle using several Hellfire missiles and laser-guided munitions,” Kirby said.

Kirby did not specify what kind of American aircraft were involved nor from which service. However, the US Special Operations Command (SOCOM) does operate a fleet of Air Force-owned General Atomics MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aircraft.

SOCOM also operates a host of special operations helicopters and transport aircraft modified to carry commandos or operate as gunships.

Given the weapons described by Kirby, the air strike was likely carried out by an MQ-9, which can carry the Lockheed Martin AGM-114Hellfire missiles and laser-guided bombs.