US military says it killed ISIS-Somalia deputy in drone strike

The U.S. military said Monday it had killed the second in command of a Somalia-based ISIS affiliate in an airstrike over the weekend.

In a statement, U.S. Africa Command said Abdulhakim Dhuqub died in the Bari region of Somalia, an area which includes the tip of the Horn of Africa peninsula.

The statement referred to Dhuqub as ISIS-Somalia’s “second in command” and responsible for the “daily operations of the extremist group, attack planning, and resource procurement."

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Africa Command said the strike killed only Dhuqub, and also destroyed a vehicle.

“We continue to work with our Somali partners to keep pressure on the al-Shabaab and ISIS Somalia terror networks," said Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Gregg Olson, U.S. Africa Command’s director of operations. "When it supports the strategy, we use precision airstrikes to target those who plan and carry out the violent extremist activities that put Somalis at risk."

Not much is known about Dhuqub; his name does not appear on the State Dept.'s Reward for Justice website normally reserved for top terrorists and there is not much information publicly available online. ISIS-Somalia is a relatively small terrorist group consisting of roughly 125 fighters, according to officials.

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The strike took place days after Somalia's prime minister Hassan Khayre visited the White House and the Pentagon.

The U.S. military has launched 31 airstrikes in Somalia this year, following a record-setting 47 last year. In 2017, President Trump authorized the military to conduct offensive strikes in Somalia against Al Qaeda-linked Shabab fighters as well as the ISIS affiliate.