The U.S. military on Tuesday was trying to assess whether it had killed the leader of the militant group al-Shabab in a drone strike in Somalia, U.S. officials said, amid reports from Somali officials that the operation had been successful.
U.S. officials said the counterterrorism operation on Monday had targeted Mukhtar Abu Zubeyr, widely known as Godane, a Kenyan native who had taken control of al-Shabab in recent years and aligned the group with al-Qaeda. Godane is also the alleged mastermind of al-Shabab’s attack on an upscale shopping mall in Nairobi in September 2013.
The Somalian embassy in Washington asserted on its Twitter account Tuesday morning that Godane had been killed, along with “seven senior members” of al-Shabab.
U.S. officials said they could not confirm the report, adding that the Pentagon was still trying to determine Godane’s fate and would be cautious before making any definitive conclusions. Several al-Qaeda leaders have been reported killed in drone strikes in the past in Yemen, Pakistan and elsewhere, only to resurface later on, very much alive.