An American military drone strike over the weekend in southern Libya killed a top recruiter and logistics specialist for Al Qaeda's branch in northwest Africa, the Pentagon said on Wednesday, and a senior military official warned of more attacks on extremists there. The military's Africa Command said in a statement that the attack killed two militants, one of whom was identified as Musa Abu Dawud, a high-ranking official in Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, known as AQIM. Mr. Dawud trained Qaeda recruits in Libya for strike operations in the region, and provided logistics, money and weapons that enabled the group to threaten and attack American and Western interests, the military statement said. Until now, the Pentagon had focused its counterterrorism strikes in Libya -- eight since President Trump took office -- almost exclusively on Islamic State fighters and operatives farther north. Over several months in 2016, the military conducted nearly 500 airstrikes in the coastal city of Surt to destroy the Islamic State's stronghold there.
BENGHAZI, Libya – The U.S. military says its airstrike last weekend in southwestern Libya killed two al-Qaida militants, including a top recruiter, Musa Abu Dawud. The military's Africa Command's Wednesday statement said Abu Dawud had trained recruits by the terror network's North Africa branch, known as Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb. In 2016, the United States said Abu Dawud had been involved in "terrorist activity" since 1992 and labelled him a "specially designated global terrorist." AFRICOM said 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 says the March 24 airstrike near the town of Ubari didn't kill any civilians.
The United States military carried out its first ever drone strike against Qaeda militants in southern Libya this weekend, signaling a possibly significant expansion of the American counterterrorism campaign in the North African nation. Until now, the Pentagon had focused its counterterrorism strikes in Libya almost exclusively on Islamic State fighters and operatives farther north -- eight since President Trump took office. In 2016, the military conducted nearly 500 airstrikes in the coastal city of Surt over several months to destroy the Islamic State's stronghold there. But the attack on Saturday that the military's Africa Command said had killed two militants -- later identified by a spokeswoman as belonging to Al Qaeda's branch in northwestern Africa -- took place in the country's southwest, a notorious haven for a deadly mix of Al Qaeda and other extremist groups that also operate in the Sahel region of Niger, Chad, Mali and Algeria. "This appears to be the continuation of expanding AFRICOM activity in Libya's ungoverned areas," said Deborah K.
Two other Special Forces soldiers were also wounded in the Niger ambush; Lucas Tomlinson has the story for'Special Report.' There was no U.S. surveillance drone overhead at the time of the ambush in Niger which killed three U.S. Army Green Berets and wounded two others Wednesday, multiple officials familiar with the matter tell Fox News. In addition, Fox News has learned the dead and injured soldiers were taken from the firefight by French Puma helicopters. Only one U.S. helicopter was available to pick up the Green Berets. It is not clear why it wasn't used.