Senior al-Shabaab Leader Killed by US Strike in Somalia, Pentagon Says

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In this Dec. 8, 2008 file photo, armed al-Shabab fighters on pickup trucks prepare to travel into the city, just outside Mogadishu, in Somalia. (AP Photo/Farah Abdi Warsameh)
In this Dec. 8, 2008 file photo, armed al-Shabab fighters on pickup trucks prepare to travel into the city, just outside Mogadishu, in Somalia. (AP Photo/Farah Abdi Warsameh)

WASHINGTON -- Bashir Mohamed Mahamoud, a senior leader of the al-Shabaab terrorist group, was killed in an airstrike conducted by U.S. Africa Command on Feb. 22, a Pentagon statement confirmed Monday.

Mahamoud, alias Bashir Qoorgaab, worked with al-Shabaab for more than a decade and was "responsible for exporting terror in Somalia as well as attacks into Kenya," the statement said.

"This airstrike helped make Somalia safer, and eliminated an individual responsible for creating as well as exporting violence," according to the statement.

Mahamoud, who had a bounty of up to $5 million on his head, was also suspected of being involved in an attack against U.S. and Kenyan forces at the Manda Bay Airfield that killed one U.S. service member and two Defense Department contractors in January, it added.

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On Feb. 25, AFRICOM said in a separate statement that the two terrorists killed in the Feb. 22 airstrikes "were an individual associated with the attack on Manda Bay and his wife, who was also a known al-Shabaab member."

Harakat Shabaab al-Mujahidin, more commonly known as al-Shabaab, is an al-Qaida affiliate based in Somalia. One of the largest militant organizations in East Africa, the group has been fighting to oust the Somalian government since the early 2000s. According to the Council on Foreign Relations, a think tank specializing in U.S. foreign policy, al-Shabaab had between 7,000 and 9,000 fighters in 2017.

Al-Shabaab has been conducting deadly bombings and attacks throughout Somalia and also targets the African Union Mission in Somalia, a peacekeeping mission.

The State Department named al-Shabaab a Foreign Terrorist Organization and a Specially Designated Global Terrorist entity in 2008.

In the recent years, the United States has ramped up efforts against al-Shabaab, conducting regular airstrikes to combat the rising threat of the group in the region.

On Saturday, AFRICOM's latest airstrike killed four terrorists in the Gandarshe region of Somalia, officials said.

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