This was one of the headlines greeting me when I woke up this morning, and in a week filled with generally dreary news it was a small ray of sunshine. A US airstrike six days ago took out Ahmed Godane in Somalia.
A leader of the militant Islamist group al-Shabaab has been killed in an American air strike, military chiefs have confirmed.
The death of Ahmed Godane was announced on Friday by Pentagon press secretary Rear Admiral John Kirby, who declared it a “major symbolic and operational loss”.
The lethal strike in Somalia took place on Monday, but military analysts were still assessing its outcome during the week.
Godane was a co-founder of the terrorist group, which has carried out bombings and suicide attacks in the east African country and elsewhere.
I actually first saw this story on CNN as I was pouring coffee and was somewhat taken aback to hear the anchor describing Godane as a warrior poet. (According to this bio, the “warrior poet” is a Somali tradition.) I’m not sure what sort of poetry Godane was writing, but I don’t imagine it was from the same school as Yeats. In any event, his days of inspirational scribbling have come to an end.
In terms of what sort of long range effect this will have in the fight against al-Shabaab, the forecast is a bit more cloudy. The CNN reporter on the ground in Somalia indicated that government officials were preparing for a potential wave of attacks and suicide bombers in retaliation. Also, this is similar to the situation we discussed last week regarding Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi of ISIS. Much like the most dangerous job in the world (being 3rd in command of al Qaeda), when you manage to kill off one weed, there are plenty more waiting to pop up in their place.
That’s not to say that killing Ahmed Godane isn’t good news… it definitely is. Terrorists clearly have a different mindset than the average American is used to, but we can hope that seeing their leaders being blown up one by one will still impart some sliver of doubt in their conviction and shake their belief that they are on some unstoppable mission from God. But in the end, I fear that nothing is going to stop these people – as well as their kissing cousins in the Islamic State – short of wiping them out in massive numbers until they no longer have enough armed soldiers to mount a serious offensive.