A US air raid, carried with both warplanes and drones, killed more than 150 al-Shabaab militants in Somalia March 5, with the Pentagon citing an "imminent threat" to US and African Union forces. Spokesman Cpt. Jeff Davis said a "large-scale" attack was being prepared at the camp. The target, identified as "Raso Camp," was in Bulobarde province, about 200 kilometers north of the capital, Mogadishu. Al-Shabab was pushed out of Mogadishu by African Union peacekeeping forces in 2011 but has continued to launch frequent attacks in its bid to overthrow the Western-backed government—including the twin bombing at a busy restaurant in the Somali city of Baidoa that killed 30 on Feb. 28.
The actual impacts of the air-raid are hard to determine. The US and the Kenyan military have launched multiple air-strikes against Shabaab's fighters and top leaders. Most recently, in December the US said it killed Abdirahman Sandhere AKA "Ukash" and two other "associates" in an airs-trike on an undisclosed location in Somalia. But Shabaab has continued to launch ambushes on Kenyan and Ethiopian-led African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) forces, and has regained control of several towns in the south since Sandhere was killed. On March 7, the Australian navy said it had seized a huge cache of weapons on a fishing boat off the coast of Oman that was apparently heading for insurgents in Somalia. (BBC News, Long War Journal, March 7; BBC News, Feb. 29)
Al-Shabaab is generally said to be an al-Qaeda affiliate, but some reports indicate that it has joined the ISIS franchise.
Somalia operations come under post-9-11 authorization
The Obama administration has decided to deem the Shabaab to be part of the armed conflict that Congress authorized after 9-11, officials say. The move is intended to shore up the legal basis for an intensifying campaign of air-strikes and other operations, carried out largely in support of African Union and Somali government forces. (NYT, Nov. 27)
In the latest presumed Shabaab attack, a car bomb has killed at least 11 people, and injured another 16, when it exploded at a police checkpoint next to a busy market in Mogadishu. (Al Jazeera, Nov. 26)
In an embarassment for the White House, the Pentagon was forced to admit earlier this month that a drone strike on what was thought to be a Shabaab position actually killed 10 fighters from a US-backed militia in Galmadug state. The incident sparked anti-US protests in Galmadug. (Somalia Review, Nov. 11; WP, Nov. 10)
More terror in Mogadishu
A presumed Shabaab suicide car bomber struck the entrance of Mogadishu's largest port and an adjacent police complex, killing at least 29 and wounding some 45. (Al Jazeera)