U.S. Airstrike Kills Top Qaeda Agent in Somalia
We have killed the head of Shebab, the top al Qaeda militia in Somalia.
Aden Hashi Ayro, one of Al Qaeda’s top agents in East Africa and the leader of the Islamist comeback in Somalia, was killed Thursday morning by an American airstrike, according to American and Somali officials.
Mr. Ayro was one of the most feared and notorious figures in Somalia, a short, wispy man believed to be in his 30s who had gone from lowly car washer to top terrorist suspect blamed for a string of atrocities, including ripping up an Italian graveyard, killing a female BBC journalist and planning suicide attacks all across Somalia. He was a military commander for the Shebab, an Islamist militia which the American government recently classified as a terrorist group.
Somalia officials said his death could be a key turning point in defeating the Islamists, who have seized several towns in recent weeks, and in bringing peace to the country. “This will definitely weaken the Shebab,” said Mohamed Aden, consul for Somalia’s embassy in Nairobi, the capital of neighboring Kenya, who confirmed the developments. “This will help with reconciliation. You can’t imagine how many Somalis are saying, ‘Yes, this is the one.’ The reaction is so good.”
Good news. Somehow, al Qaeda continues replacing their fallen leaders. Presumably, though, there’s some drop-off in quality, at least in the short term, as this happens. As yesterday’s State Department report makes clear, this hasn’t seemed to hamper their ability to conduct minor operations. Whether these continued decapitation strikes are impacting planning for major operations — or the lull is mere coincidence — is hard to say.