The United States conducted a significant military operation targeting the global leader of ISIS in Somalia. On May 31, the U.S. announced that three militants were killed in an airstrike in Somalia. Still, officials are uncertain if the primary target, ISIS leader Abdulqadir Mumin, was among the dead.

According to U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM), the airstrike occurred in a remote area 50 miles southeast of Bosaso, Somalia, and successfully eliminated three ISIS militants without causing civilian casualties. Although the initial AFRICOM statement did not disclose the identities of those targeted, three U.S. officials have since confirmed that Mumin was the intended target.

 

Abdulqadir Mumin, publicly recognized as the head of ISIS in Somalia, quietly rose to become the global leader of the terrorist organization last year. The U.S. government has accused Mumin of orchestrating numerous deadly attacks in Somalia, including the assassination of a judicial official in 2019 and the 2016 capture and prolonged occupation of a city in the Puntland region.

Abdulqadir Mumin a.k.a. Abdul al-Qadir Mumin Founder and leader. Credit: National Counterterrorism Center

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A senior administration official confirmed the strike aimed at a senior ISIS figure but withheld the name, noting that the verification of the outcome is ongoing. Another senior defense official highlighted that ISIS’s presence in Somalia consists of about 100 to 200 fighters in the northern region, though ISIS cells exist in other parts of Africa, including Libya, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Mozambique.

Despite being heavily targeted by U.S. operations in Iraq and Syria, ISIS continues to maintain thousands of fighters globally, particularly in northern Iraq and northeastern Syria. The senior defense official emphasized that ISIS views Africa as a strategic area for expansion due to its permissive environment, allowing the group to operate more freely.

In 2016, the U.S. designated Mumin as a specially designated global terrorist, citing his significant threat to U.S. national security. Mumin succeeded Abu al-Hasan al-Hashimi al-Qurashi, who died in combat in Syria in late 2022. Previous ISIS leaders, including the notorious Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, committed suicide to avoid capture during U.S. military operations.

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