Official: U.S. airstrike in Somalia targets suspected militant leader
January 27, 2014 -- Updated 1233 GMT (2033 HKT)
- The U.S. hasn't determined whether the strike's target was killed
- The target is described as a "senior leader" affiliated with al Qaeda and Al-Shabaab
- An October U.S. raid to capture an Al-Shabaab leader was aborted
(CNN) -- The U.S. military conducted an airstrike in southern Somalia on Sunday against a suspected militant leader, a U.S. military official told CNN.
The target was described by the official as a "senior leader" affiliated with al Qaeda and Al-Shabaab, al Qaeda's affiliate in Somalia.
The United States has not yet been able to determine whether the target was killed, the official said.
Last October, the elite U.S. Navy SEAL Team Six aborted a pre-dawn raid in southern Somalia to capture Al-Shabaab leader Ikrima after an intense firefight prevented them from reliably taking him alive, a senior U.S. official told CNN at the time.
U.S. target wanted terrorists in Africa
Details on daring terror raids
In a second raid that same weekend, members of the U.S. Army Delta Force captured Abu Anas al Libi, an al Qaeda operative wanted for his alleged role in the deadly 1998 bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa, during an operation in the Libyan capital of Tripoli.
The U.S. military official said Sunday's strike involved missiles. No U.S. troops were on the ground.
Al-Shabaab, designated a terrorist organization by the United States, has a relationship with al Qaeda that goes back several years. In 2012, the two groups effectively merged, said CNN national security analyst Peter Bergen.
Bergen: How Al-Shabaab picks its targets
Al-Shabaab hopes to turn Somalia into a fundamentalist Islamic state but has launched attacks in other countries as well.
In 2010, Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for two suicide bombings in Kampala, Uganda, amid crowds of soccer fans watching televised screenings of the World Cup final. The bombings left 74 people dead.
The group said at the time the attacks were retaliation for Ugandan participation in the African Union Mission in Somalia, known as AMISOM. One AMISOM goal is to support Somali government forces in cracking down on Al-Shabaab.
Al-Shabaab has also mounted many smaller attacks against targets in Kenya, hurling hand grenades into nightclubs, restaurants and schools. The group has also kidnapped tourists and aid workers.
The group claimed responsibility for the September siege of the Westgate mall in Nairobi on September 21 that killed at least 67 people.
Al-Shabaab said the attack was retaliation for Kenya's involvement in the African Union effort against the group.
In recent months, Al-Shabaab's haven in south-central Somalia has been increasingly squeezed as Kenyan forces fight the group from the south and African Union forces come down from Mogadishu, the Somali capital.
Somalia warns telecom companies not to comply with Al-Shabaab Internet ban
Ex-U.S. soldier accused of trying to join al Shabaab gets 7 years
Syria, U.S. surveillance in focus in group's annual rights report
Today's five most popular stories
Part of complete coverage on
September 30, 2014 -- Updated 1550 GMT (2350 HKT)
Experts believe that ISIS may be using a Spanish enclave to bring jihad to Europe.
September 30, 2014 -- Updated 1300 GMT (2100 HKT)
With an efficient subway, inexpensive taxis and a good public bus system, Hong Kong is normally an easy city to navigate ...
September 28, 2014 -- Updated 2332 GMT (0732 HKT)
CNN's Ivan Watson was in the middle of a pro-democracy protest in Hong Kong when things got out of hand.
September 30, 2014 -- Updated 2012 GMT (0412 HKT)
The world's animal population has halved in 40 years as humans put unsustainable demands on Earth, a new report warns.
September 30, 2014 -- Updated 1249 GMT (2049 HKT)
Every day, refugees and migrants risk their lives as they seek a new life. Now, a new report puts a figure to the number of victims.
September 30, 2014 -- Updated 1442 GMT (2242 HKT)
Mainstream commentators must promote positive role models to Muslims feeling victimized, writes Ghaffar Hussain.
September 29, 2014 -- Updated 0613 GMT (1413 HKT)
Two men familiar with inside knowledge of ISIS speak with CNN's Arwa Damon.
Explore CNN's interactive that explains ISIS' roots, what it controls, and where its support comes from.
September 25, 2014 -- Updated 2010 GMT (0410 HKT)
In his first-ever interview as the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani defended his country against allegations of funding terrorism.
September 27, 2014 -- Updated 1503 GMT (2303 HKT)
The North Korean leader hasn't been seen for weeks, leading to speculation that he is in poor health.
September 24, 2014 -- Updated 0154 GMT (0954 HKT)
Haider al-Abadi hopes airstrikes don't lead to "of another terrorist element" instead of ISIS.
September 25, 2014 -- Updated 1319 GMT (2119 HKT)
The United States couldn't do it on its first try. Neither could the Soviets.
September 24, 2014 -- Updated 1529 GMT (2329 HKT)
CNN's Nima Elbagir reflects on a harrowing trip to Liberia where she covered the deadliest Ebola outbreak in history.
September 26, 2014 -- Updated 1423 GMT (2223 HKT)
Contrary to public opinion, rats can actually save lives -- Apopo's rats have actually saved thousands.
October 1, 2014 -- Updated 1255 GMT (2055 HKT)
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.