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U.S. military operation kills ISIS facilitator Bilal al-Sudani in Somalia

The U.S. military killed ISIS operator and facilitator Bilal al-Sudani and 10 of his ISIS associates in a raid Wednesday night in Somalia, senior administration officials said Thursday. There were no casualties among civilians or U.S. service members during the operation, the officials said. 

Officials described al-Sudani as a key operator and facilitator for ISIS' global network because of his funding to sustain ISIS branches in Africa and around the world, including in Afghanistan

President Joe Biden authorized the operation earlier this week after a recommendation from Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and advice from the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley, the officials said. The operation took months of planning and included rehearsals at sites constructed to replicate the terrain where the operation eventually took place. 

The operation Wednesday night took place in a mountainous cave complex in northern Somalia.

Senior administration officials said the U.S. forces had prepared to capture al-Sudani, but the response from hostile forces culminated in his death and the death of 10 of his associates. 

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The Pentagon is seen from Air Force One as it flies over Washington, March 2, 2022.  Patrick Semansky / AP

"This action leaves the United States and its partners safer and more secure, and it reflects our steadfast commitment to protecting Americans from the threat of terrorism at home and abroad," Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said in a statement. 

Before joining ISIS, al-Sudani was designated by the U.S. Treasury Department in 2012 for his role in al-Shabaab, where he helped foreign fighters travel to al-Shabaab training camps and facilitated financing for foreign violent extremists in Somalia. 

One of the administration officials said the U.S. intelligence community expects "to glean valuable information from this operation" as a part of its continued counterterrorism operations. 

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