2 September 2014

Somalia: Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby Statement on Al-Shabaab Attack


Washington, DC — Department of Defense Press Briefing by Rear Adm. Kirby in the Pentagon Briefing Room

I know that you've all been tracking events in Somalia last night. So if you'll just bear with me, I'm going to walk you through what I can right now.

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.

This operation was a direct strike against the Al-Shabaab network, specifically the group's leader, Ahmed Abdi al-Muhammad, also known Ahmed Godane. We are still assessing the results of the operation, and we'll provide additional information when and if appropriate. 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.

The operation occurred south of Mogadishu, located in south-central Somalia, and it did result in the destruction of that vehicle. I think it's important to remind everybody that in September 2013, Godane publicly claimed Al-Shabaab was responsible for the Westgate Mall attack, which killed and injured dozens in Nairobi.

Under the leadership of Godane, Al-Shabaab has claimed responsibility for many bombings, including suicide attacks in Mogadishu and in central and northern Somalia, typically targeting officials and perceived allies of the federal government of Somalia, as well as the former transitional federal government of Somali.

A militant wing of the Somali Council of Islamic Courts, Al-Shabaab has occupied most of southern Somalia since 2006 and claimed responsibility for the deaths of numerous government officials, aid workers, peace activists, and journalists. Named a foreign terrorist organization by the Department of State in February 2008, Al-Shabaab has conducted terrorist activities in the region that have resulted in the loss of much innocent life.

They've also continued to plan plots targeting westerners, including U.S. personnel in East Africa. In recent months, Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing in Djibouti that killed a Turkish national and wounded several Western soldiers, as well as a car bomb at the Mogadishu Airport that targeted and killed members of the United Nations convoy.

So the operation that we've conducted, we believe, is an example of the U.S. government and our allies' and partners' commitment to the people and government of Somalia to detect, deter, disrupt and defeat violent extremists who threaten progress in the region, as well as to threaten -- as well as threaten to conduct terrorist attacks against innocent people around the world. And we're going to continue to use all the tools at our disposal -- financial, diplomatic, intelligence, and of course, the military -- to dismantle Al-Shabaab and other terrorist groups who threaten U.S. interests, as well as the interests of our allies and our partner nations.

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