Kenya: Mastermind of Manda Attack, His Wife Killed in U.S. Airstrike

Somali national army soldiers stand in formation during a logistics course graduation ceremony following 14 weeks training with the U.S. 10th Mountain division.
25 February 2020

Nairobi — The United States said Tuesday that they have killed Al-Shabaab leader linked to the Manda Bay attack.

The US Africa Command (Africom) said the terrorist, whom they did not name, was killed alongside his wife, who was also a known Al-Shabaab member, in an airstrike Saturday.

The airstrike, which was conducted in coordination with Somalia government, reportedly hit Saakow which is about 320 kilometers west of Mogadishu.

"The two terrorists were identified as a senior Al-Shabaab leader, who was in charge of planning and directing terrorist operations on the Kenya border region, including the recent attack on Manda Bay, and his wife, who also was a witting and active member of Al-Shabaab responsible for facilitating a wide range of terrorist activities" Africom said in a statement.

The head of Africom General Stephen Townsend said the airstrike was a culmination of the army's efforts put in place to pursue the perpetrators of the January 5 attack.

Those who died in the attack were identified as US Army specialist Henry Mayfield Jr and US contractors Dustin Harrison and Bruce Triplett. Five Al-Shabaab militants were also killed in the pre-dawn raid.

"Since January 5, US Africa Command and our partners have pursued those responsible for the attack on US and Kenyan forces at Manda Bay.

"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," said the US Army General.

Manda Bay, also known as Camp Simba, is a KDF base which is used by US forces to provide training and counter-terrorism support to its East African partners, respond to crises, and protect US interests.

He said since the attack which Africom acknowledged to have caught them off guard, the command has taken measures to increase its force protection postures and hardened its operating location, including Manda Bay.

"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," said Townsend.

Alongside its partners, General Townsend said Africom continues to take action to prevent Al Shabab from planning and conducting external attacks.He said the command has observed tangible progress in Somalia over the past decade.

Latest report by Armed Conflict, Location and Event Data indicates that Al-Shabaab has killed over 4,000 civilians in the last decade, with a majority being Muslims in Somalia.

"US Africa Command will continue to support our African and European partners in the fight against Al-Shabaab. It is important to impact their ability to threaten peace and security in East Africa and prevent their threats against the U. from being a reality," he added.

The combined efforts by US and Kenya soldiers in dealing with Al Shabaab comes even as it emerged that the terror group is currently faced with wrangles between its senior leaders.

The differences between the Al Shabaab leadership has since seen the expulsion of its two senior commanders Bashir Qorqab and Mahad Karate by their ailing senior, Ahmed Diriye.

Reports indicate that the militant group's commanders have disagreed along clan lines and sharing of resources. A section of the group has also protested against over-taxation and unfair treatment of its clan.

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