The United States African command (AFRICOM) announced yesterday that they killed 2 terrorists suspected of planning imminent attacks on the U.S. using precision strikes in rural Libya. The actions were taken against al-Qa’ida and with full coordination with the Libyan government.

The fight in Libya

The US has been involved in fighting terrorism within Libya since the fall of the Gaddafi regime during the Arab Spring in 2011. The actions were taken against the al-Qa’ida organization using the authorization for the use of military force (AUMF) signed under Bush after the 9/11 attacks and expanded under Obama to fight any such organizations stemming from the groups that committed the attacks.

As per the statement from AFRICOM, the group has been using under-governed spaces in Libya to stage attacks and prepare military actions.

One of the terrorists killed in the March 24th strike, Musa Abu Dawud, was said to be a senior leader "plotting, inspiring, and directing terror attacks; recruiting and facilitating the movement of foreign terrorist fighters; and raising and moving funds to support their operations," AFRICOM said in their statement on the strike. Abu Dawud oversaw Tunisia and Algeria for the Islamic State's southern North Africa strategy since 2012. According to the Counter Extremism Project, the United States has had Abu Dawud as a target for lethal action since May, 2016, saying he's been connected with terrorist organizations since 1992.


Many north African Al-Qa'ida affiliates have turned their allegiances to ISIS, even though the Islamic State has been significantly weakened in the last year. Terrorist cells in countries such as Libya, Niger, and Algeria have started to tighten their grip on small localities where they have instituted quasi governments.

One of the most notable groups who pledge allegiance to both ISIS and Al-Qa'ida is the notorious Boko Haram ("Western Education is Forbidden") who operate out of northeast Nigeria.

These groups are not loyal to any central authority and use religion as a proxy for piracy. They will ally themselves with whichever Islamic front can cover their costs or recruit the most soldiers.

The U.S. State Department claims that they operate out of the poorest regions in Africa with some of the fastest growing populations, making it easy to seduce young, jobless men into a life of crime. The "jihad" they commit to is not one of religious fervor, but instead of necessity. The governments in these regions have lost the monopoly of violence and therefore control of the state in rural areas. AFRICOM does as much as it can to assist them in fighting terrorism, but the vast regions of difficult terrain make it hard for even the world's most advanced military to make any headway.

Guerilla tactics combined with indoctrination allows these groups to continue their mission, unimpeded by the major world security apparatuses.