Pentagon officials have confirmed that a November 13 airstrike in Libya has killed Abu Nabil, the top ISIS leader in Libya. The strike was carried out by an F-15 jet and hit a compound in the city of Derna nearly a month ago.
As The Guardian reports, by grim coincidence, the airstrike occurred simultaneously with the terrorist attacks in Paris.
The news comes a day after President Obama addressed the nation in a speech outlining his plan to combat domestic terrorism and international terrorist groups, namely ISIS.
Captain Jeff Davis, the Pentagon spokesman who broke the news, also confirmed that a separate airstrike in Somalia killed Abdirahman Sandhere, also known by his nom de guerre “Ukash”. Ukash was a senior leader of al Shabaab, an al Qaeda affiliate group operating in East Africa and mainly targeting Kenya.
While the US continues its push to defeat ISIS, and centers the battle on Syria and Iraq, the rise of ISIS in Libya has been concerning.
Libya has been a failed state since the ouster and killing of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. As The New Yorker reports, in November 2014, Libyan Islamists returning home from battle in Syria and Iraq seized the city of Derna, in Eastern Libya, and claimed it for ISIS.
Since then, the ISIS threat in North Africa has spread. A video surfaced in February showing the beheading of 21 Egyptian hostages. Tunisia has been riddled with ISIS-associated terrorist attacks in the last year. With the threat and death-toll rising, Tunisia is now building a security wall along its 104-mile-long border with Libya.
Libya is an oil-rich nation with no central government and a long Mediterranean coast. ISIS is viewing Libya as both a source of wealth, and an easy launch point for more attacks in Europe.
As Hassan Hassan wrote in The Guardian, ISIS is looking to expand its international reach and perpetrate attacks outside of Syria and Iraq. He references a UN report out earlier this month that warns of Libya becoming a “key stronghold” for ISIS.