Senior Islamic State leader in Somalia killed in US raid

Official says Bilal al-Sudani was ‘a key operative and facilitator for Isis’ global network’

US special operations commandos killed a senior leader of the Islamic State militant group in an early-morning helicopter raid in a remote area of northern Somalia on Thursday, US officials said.

The Pentagon identified the leader as Bilal al-Sudani. US officials said he was operating in Somalia but that his influence as one of the terrorist group’s top financial operatives extended across Africa, into Europe and even to the Islamic State branch in Afghanistan, which carried out the August 2021 bombing at Kabul’s international airport that killed 13 American service members.

In a statement, US defence secretary Lloyd Austin said al-Sudani “was responsible for fostering the growing presence of Isis in Africa and for funding the group’s operations worldwide, including in Afghanistan”.

Biden administration officials said no civilians were injured or killed in the raid. They also said none of the US troops involved were hurt, although one was bitten by a dog they had brought with them.


A senior administration official described al-Sudani as “a key operative and facilitator for Isis’ global network”. The official said the operative was killed along with 10 other Sudanese Islamic State associates.

The raid took place in a remote mountainous cave complex in the Puntland region of northern Somalia, months after US spy networks detected al-Sudani’s hidden headquarters and monitored the location to study his movements.

The senior administration official said the special operations troops had been prepared to capture al-Sudani but the response from his associates when US troops arrived at their cave complex “resulted in his death”.

The fact that the Pentagon sent commandos – a decision that required president Joe Biden’s approval this week – rather than using a less-risky drone operation indicated al-Sudani’s significance.

One senior administration official said there was no one else in the Islamic State group’s global constellation of operatives who rivalled al-Sudani in his ability to receive and distribute illicit funds to far-flung Islamic State affiliates on at least three continents. – This article originally appeared in The New York Times