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U.S. military kills key ISIS facilitator, Bilal al-Sudani, 10 ISIS operatives

U.S. military kills key ISIS facilitator, Bilal al-Sudani, 10 ISIS operatives

Senior administration officials said Thursday that the US military killed a key ISIS facilitator, Bilal al-Sudani, and about ten ISIS operatives in a counterterrorism mission that resulted in no US casualties.

According to officials, there were no casualties among American service members or civilians as a result of “extensive planning and exquisite execution of the plan.”

According to officials, al-Sudani was involved in funding a global network of ISIS affiliates. According to one official, al-Sudani was specifically responsible for funding and expanding ISIS’s reach throughout Africa and through the ISIS affiliate in Afghanistan.

In a statement Thursday afternoon, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin confirmed the assault operation, saying al-Sudani “was responsible for fostering ISIS’s growing presence in Africa and funding the group’s operations worldwide, including in Afghanistan.”

“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,” Austin said. “We are grateful to our extraordinary service members as well as our intelligence community and other interagency partners for their support to this successful counterterrorism operation.”

U.S. Africa Command on Thursday afternoon also confirmed the mission.

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“Protecting civilians remains a vital part of the command’s operations to promote greater security for all Africans,” U.S. Africa Command said.

The operation was the result of what officials called “extraordinary coordination and careful planning across all elements of the U.S. government for many months.”

The operation’s planning reached a “critical stage” last week. President Biden, Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines, Deputy CIA Director David Cohen, Attorney General Merrick Garland, and other senior members of the White House national security team were briefed on the plan by the Pentagon.

Biden authorized the operation earlier this week after “ensuring that key questions he had about the risk to our forces and the impact of the operation on potential civilians in the area were satisfactorily answered.”

Following a recommendation from Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley, as well as “careful consideration of its risks and benefits in consultation with his intelligence community and national security team,” Biden approved the operation.

There was an assessment of whether alternative options for dealing with al-threats Sudani’s posed a lower risk to US forces.

“An intended capture operation was ultimately determined to be the best option to maximize the intelligence value of the operation and increase its precision in challenging terrain,” one official said. “At the same time, and based on extensive past experience, we recognize that even an intended capture operation might well result in al-Sudani’s death — as it ultimately did.”

The official said there was “one injury.”

“That was a dog bite by one of our canines on one of our own service members,” the official said. “That’s how precise and meticulous this operation was.”

Another official described the operation as a “significant counterterrorism achievement” and that it reflects “keyways” in which the Biden administration’s approach to addressing international terrorist threats have evolved.

“Our approach starts from the fundamental recognition that the terrorism threat today is more diverse — ideologically diverse and geographically dispersed than it was 20 or so years ago,” the official said.

According to the official, the Biden administration has determined that the United States requires “a combination of light footprints, operational agility, and intelligence on the inside to determine where the threats to Americans arise now.” According to the official, these threats include ISIS, Al-Shabaab, and others.

The intelligence community “expects to glean valuable information from this operation,” according to officials.

U.S. military kills key ISIS facilitator, Bilal al-Sudani, 10 ISIS operatives

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