A joint US-Somali military raid on an al-Shabaab target in Somalia on Sunday resulted in the capture of an al-Shabaab facilitator who is suspected of being a lawful US resident, two US defense officials told CNN. US military advisers were conducting an “advise and assist mission,” accompanying local Somali security forces as they launched a raid on an al-Shabaab target, al Qaeda’s Somali affiliate, in the area of Gilcayo, Somalia.
During the raid the officials said a “known al-Shabaab facilitator and suspected lawful resident of the US was captured by the Somali National Security Forces.” One official called the capture “a target of opportunity” and said that the individual recently traveled to the United States. The official said the detainee is not an American citizen and that the military is working to confirm the nature of his US residency with US law enforcement. The Pentagon referred CNN to the government of Somalia. Sunday’s operation follows news of another joint US-Somali raid against al-Shabaab that was launched earlier this month.
“US forces are assisting partner forces to counter al-Shabaab in Somalia to degrade the al-Qaeda affiliate’s ability to recruit, train and plot external terror attacks throughout the region and in America,” US Africa Command, which oversees US troops in the region, said in a statement following the earlier operation in Kunyo Barrow, Somalia. About 50 to 100 US Special Operations Forces have been advising local Somali forces battling al-Shabaab since 2013. Al-Shabaab is considered al Qaeda’s third largest affiliate. The group has claimed responsibility for a number of attacks in Somalia and the wider region.