Top ISIS leader in Somalia was target of US airstrike

Top ISIS leader in Somalia was target of US airstrike

A United States military airstrike in Somalia targeted the top Islamic State leader in late May, but it remains unclear if the leader was killed in the airstrike, according to U.S. officials.

Abdulqadir Mumin has been identified by the U.S. as the head of the Islamic State in Somalia, an African affiliate of the terror group once known as ISIS.

A statement from U.S. Africa Command disclosed that on May 31 it had conducted an airstrike in a remote area of northeastern Somalia, south of the Gulf of Aden, that killed three militants affiliated with the Islamic State. The statement did not provide more accurate information about who was specifically being targeted in the airstrike.

Three U.S. officials confirmed to ABC News that the target of the strike was the top leader of the Islamic State in Somalia whom the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) identified as Mumin. However, the U.S. officials said it remained unclear if Mumin had been killed in the airstrike.

MORE: 8 Tajikistanis with suspected ties to ISIS detained in US, source says

A fourth U.S. official would only confirm that a senior Islamic State leader was the target of the strike but would not comment on the individual's name.

NBC News was first to report that Mumin was the target of the May 31 airstrike and that he had become the global leader of Islamic State.

The NCTC describes Mumin as the founder and leader of the Islamic State in Somalia that operates primarily in the semi-autonomous area of northeastern Somalia known as Puntland.

MORE: Former top general warns of 'inevitable' threats to US from Islamic State in wake of Moscow attack

Founded in 2015, the terror group became an official affiliate of ISIS in 2018 and is believed to have between 100 and 400 members that mainly carry out what are described as "small-scale, sporadic attacks and assassination operations against Somali Government officials and security forces, government-affiliated civilians, Puntland security forces, Africa Union Mission in Somalia peacekeepers, business owners refusing to pay extortion demands, and al-Shabaab."

Al-Shabaab is the main Islamic militant group in Somalia where its nearly 10,000 members operate in the southern part of the country and is the usual target of U.S. airstrikes in support of Somalia's government.

Top ISIS leader in Somalia was target of US airstrike originally appeared on