WASHINGTON, U.S. military airstrikes last month killed the leader of the Islamic state in Libya, the Pentagon said Monday, on the same day as the terror attacks in Paris.
Defense officials confirmed the death of Abu Nabil, the militant who led the operations of the Isis in Libya — also known as ISIL.
Nabil was specifically targeted in the strikes, the Pentagon said a day after the operation. However, his death wasn’t officially confirmed until Monday.
“Nabil’s death will degrade ISIL’s ability to meet the group’s objectives in Libya, including recruiting new ISIL members, establishing bases in Libya, and planning external attacks on the United States,” Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said at the time.
Nabil, who also went by the name Wissam Najm Abd Zayd al Zubaydi, was a longtime al Qaeda operative and the senior ISIL leader in Libya.
“While not the first U.S. strike against terrorists in Libya, this was the first U.S. strike against an ISIL leader in Libya and it demonstrates we will go after ISIL leaders wherever they operate,” Cook said Monday.
The Pentagon also confirmed the death of a senior terror leader in Somalia — Abdirahman Sandhere, a member of an al Qaeda affiliate — on Dec. 2. Sandhere was also known as “Ukash.”
“Ukash’s removal from the battlefield is a significant blow to al-Shabaab,” Cook said, “And [it] reflects the painstaking work by our intelligence, military and law enforcement professionals.”
The Department of Defense’s confirmations Monday fall in line with a nationally televised address Sunday night from President Barack Obama, during which he reemphasized the United States’ commitment to destroying the Islamic State and other militants aligned in their jihad against the West.
“Our success won’t depend on tough talk, or abandoning our values, or giving in to fear. That’s what groups like [the IS] are hoping for,” Obama said. “Instead, we will prevail by being strong and smart. Resilient and relentless. And by drawing upon every aspect of American power. ”
“The United States will continue to use the tools at [its] disposal — financial, diplomatic, intelligence and military — to dismantle al Shabaab and other terrorist groups who threaten United States, [its] interests and persons,” Cook said.
The airstrike that killed Nabil occurred on the same day as the Paris terror attacks, which left 130 dead and nearly 370 wounded.
Also Monday, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced a change to the National Threat Advisory System that will add an “intermediate level,” intended to keep the American public better informed of terror threats.
By Doug G. Ware