US says airstrike killed top al-Qaida leader in Libya
BENGHAZI, Libya (AP) — A U.S. airstrike last weekend in southwestern Libya killed two al-Qaida militants, including a top recruiter, the military’s Africa Command said.
Musa Abu Dawud was a high ranking official of the terror network’s North Africa branch, known as Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb. His death was confirmed after “operational reporting” and “damage battle assessment” was completed, AFRICOM said in a Wednesday statement.
“He provided critical logistics support, funding and weapons to AQIM, enabling the terrorist group to threaten and attack U.S. and Western interests in the region,” AFRICOM said. The statement did not identify the other militant killed in the strike.
The strike took place near the Libyan town of Ubari. The U.S. military said no civilians were killed.
Videos and photos circulated online purporting to show the aftermath of the strike show a body on the ground and shrapnel-riddled cars outside a severely damaged house. The footage could not be independently authenticated but appeared to correspond to the U.S. military’s report on the event.
In 2016, the United States said Abu Dawud had been involved in “terrorist activity” since 1992 and labelled him a “specially designated global terrorist.” It also said he had previously carried out attacks in Algeria and Tunisia.
Islamic extremists expanded their reach in Libya after country was plunged into chaos following the 2011 uprising that ousted and killed longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi.
Over the past months, the United States has carried out airstrikes targeting the Islamic State group militants in the North African country. In September, the U.S. military said American airstrikes in Libya killed 17 militants from the Islamic State group and destroyed three vehicles.