A U.S. airstrike in Libya over the weekend killed a top al-Qaeda leader, Musa Abu Dawud, and another fighter, the military’s Africa Command said in a press release.
“In coordination with the Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA), U.S. forces conducted a precision airstrike near Ubari, Libya, on March 24, killing two al-Qa’ida terrorists, including Musa Abu Dawud, a high ranking al-Qa’ida in the Lands of the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) official,” the Wednesday, March 28 release said.
The March 24 airstrike raised questions because the command did not immediately disclose it as it does with most other engagements. The New York Times first reported on Sunday. Africom typically releases strike information to reporters, on its website and through social media.
Dawud trained al-Qaeda recruits in Libya for operations in the region and provided critical logistics support, funding and weapons to the group, “enabling the terrorist group to threaten and attack U.S. and Western interests in the region,” Africom said on Wednesday.
“Our goal is always to be as transparent as possible while taking into account operational security, force protection and diplomatic sensitivities. Unless operational requirements prevent doing so, we acknowledge all strikes – either by press release or response to query,” Africom spokesperson Major Karl J. Wiest told The Defense Post in an emailed statement on Monday.
“When we limit our acknowledgement to responses to query, as we did with the strike on March 24, it is because of a realistic operational security concern, a significant force protection matter, or potential diplomatic sensitivities.”