Pentagon confirms Qaeda higher-up killed in Libya strike

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A senior al-Qaeda operative and another jihadist were killed in a US air strike in Libya, the Pentagon confirmed Wednesday.

The March 24 strike near Ubari in southern Libya killed “two al-Qaeda terrorists, including Musa Abu Dawud, a high-ranking Al-Qaeda in the Lands of the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) official,” the US military’s Africa Command said in a statement.

Officials said the strike, the second by the US this year and the first targeting AQIM, had been coordinated with the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) of Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj.

As is the case in Somalia, the Pentagon has the authority to conduct plane and drone strikes in Libya, provided it has the support of the local government.

“Dawud trained AQIM recruits in Libya for attack operations in the region,” the Africom statement read.

“He provided critical logistics support, funding and weapons to AQIM, enabling the terrorist group to threaten and attack US and Western interests in the region.”

The US State Department said Dawud was a Specially Designated Global Terrorist in 2016.

He began engaging in terrorist activity as early as 1992, the State Department said at the time.

“As a senior leader for AQIM, Dawud is responsible for multiple terrorist attacks, including the February 4-5, 2013, attack on the military barracks in Khenchela, Algeria, that injured multiple soldiers and a July 2013 attack on a Tunisian military patrol in the Mount Chaambi area that killed nine soldiers,” officials said.

Libya has been gripped by chaos since a NATO-backed uprising toppled and killed dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, with rival administrations and multiple militias vying for control of the oil-rich country.

Jihadists and people-traffickers have taken advantage of the chaos to gain a foothold in the North African country.

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