US military honors troops from Somalia after capturing senior leader of Al-Shabaab

MOGADISHU, Somalia – The US military has paid tribute to the Somali national army [SNA] after an elderly Al-Shabaab operator was captured and admitted that the incident “shows” progress in the fight against Al-Shabaab.

On Monday, troops from the 1st Advanced Infantry Brigade of Danab forces attacked the Wanlaweyn city of Lower Shebelle, where they managed to grab Ibrahim Mohamed Rooble, an Al-Shabaab operative.

This was the first attack carried out without the assistance of the United States Africa Command troops, which usually provide air surveillance during sophisticated operations by SNA troops.

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And in a tweet, AFRICOM paid tribute to the Somali national army [SNA] after the operation, says “this successful operation, led by our Somali partners, shows progress”.

For a few years, AFRICOM has trained and equipped special forces from SNA, and the team has participated in many operations that led to seizures of various Al-Shabaab cities.

More recently, SNA commands, with the help of Americans and AMISOM, managed to liberate the agricultural city of Janaale from the militants, leaving over 15 Al-Shabaab members dead, officials say.

SNA troops launched a “massive operation” that resulted in the capture of a “high-profile” Al-Shabaab fighter, who had “coordinated” attacks on AMISOM and SNA forces in the region, officials said in reference Rooble.

Rooble, would later be identified as a tax collector for Al-Shabaab in Lower Shebelle, who also serves as Amniyat, a term given to the intelligence wing of the linked al-Qaeda group.

Unlike previous excursions, the troops trooped on the city at night, in an operation that is yet another “huge success” among the SNA soldiers, who will assume security responsibilities next year at AMISOM’s departure.

“Danab entered Wanlaweyn at night with help to close the target. This ensured surprise and prevented the terrorist’s escape,” Somalia’s information department said in a statement Tuesday.

“Performing operations at night is one of the toughest jobs for the military. The successful operation demonstrates the ability of the Danab forces to carry out complex operations.”

Last week, AFRICOM hinted at the possibility of surveillance in Somalia until 2027, adding that the US military is anxious to establish a functional army with a battalion that completely constitutes Danab command.

To date, AFRICOM has conducted 31 air strikes in Somalia since January, the highest ever in the same period in previous years. In 2019, the command, with the help of FGS, launched only 63 air strikes, officials said.

A UN report confirmed that most militants had begun to flee villages in southern and central Somalia, where they have been dominant in recent years due to frequent air strikes.

Last month, the US military succeeded in killing Bashir Qorgab, one of the most sought after Al-Shabaab fighters, in an aerial attack in Saakow city, Middle Juba. He is linked to January 5 attacks at the US Naval Base in Lamu, Kenya that left three Americans dead.

While there are plans by the Pentagon to scale down its forces in Africa, AFRICOM commander General Stephen Townsend insisted that the plan “will not affect” Somalia, which has 500 US Army personnel.

SNA troops have established administrations in liberated cities and will resume their responsibilities when AMISOM leaves in 2021, after years of restoring normalcy in Somalia.


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