U.S. says al-Shabaab spreads false information after airstrike

U.S. says al-Shabaab spreads false information after airstrike

The United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) issued a statement indicating that al-Shabaab is releasing false information following April 10 U.S. airstrike in Somalia.

“U.S Africa Command is aware of two news affiliates alleging an innocent civilian was killed as a result of the command’s precision airstrike in the vicinity of Jamaame, Somalia, on Apr. 10, 2020. These allegations are based on al-Shabaab propaganda and are false. The terrorist that was killed in the Apr. 10 airstrike was an al-Shabaab member complicit in the murder of at least six innocent Somalis,” AFRICOM said in a press statement.

Immediately prior to the airstrike, this al-Shabaab terrorist displayed the murdered bodies of Somali National Army (SNA) soldiers in a village. Following this act of coercion and intimidation, the al-Shabaab terrorist departed the village. Once isolated in a remote and secluded area, the terrorist was killed by an airstrike executed by the command in coordination with the Federal Government of Somalia.

“This was no innocent civilian. This was a purposeful and heinous act. It was a war crime by an al-Shabaab terrorist who desecrated bodies to scare and intimidate innocent Somalis into submission,” said U.S. Army Maj. Gen. William Gayler, U.S. Africa Command director of operations. “This terrorist posed with al-Shabaab flags prominently displayed in the background as Somalis of all ages were exposed to his gruesome public display.”

One of the two outlets falsely reporting civilian casualties is al-Shabaab associated news affiliate SomaliMemo.

Weakened by sustained military operations led by the SNA and AMISOM forces, al-Shabaab is increasingly relying on lies and propaganda, including releasing gruesome pictures of unverified civilian casualties, in an effort to grab media attention, as well as deceive the Somali public.