Sept. 11, 2018
New America's drone data was cited by an article in The Atlantic about US counterterrorism in Somalia.
In the past year and a half, the United States has drastically escalated its drone war in Somalia, conducting at least 33 strikes in 2017 and 21 thus far this year, compared to 13 in 2016 and five in 2015, according to New America, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank. According to Africom, air strikes have targeted mid- and high-level al-Shabaab figures, the most notable of whom was Ahmed Abdi Godane, al-Shabaab’s then-emir, who was killed in a U.S. air strike in 2014. (Africom press statements have not indicated which leaders have been killed in the past year.) As a result, the group’s key players have been forced “to allocate more time and energy on their personal security, which takes away resources from planning attacks and doing other activities,” Tricia Bacon, a former State Department counterterrorism expert currently researching Somalia, told me. “It’s a tactical-level disruptive effect,” she said.