US drone strike in Somalia kills Britain-linked al-Qaeda agent.

Halkaan ka akhri

A US drone strike killed one of the most senior al-Qaeda agents in Somalia, a Lebanese jihadist who grew up in Britain and who was believed to have helped plan the World Cup bombings in Kampala, it was confirmed on Sunday.

Bilaal al-Barjawi, who reportedly lived in West London until moving to East Africa seven years ago, died when three American-launched missiles hit his convoy of vehicles as they drove south of Mogadishu, the Somali capital.

He had been fighting alongside Somalia’s al-Shabaab Islamists since 2006 and was previously al-Qaeda’s head of intelligence in Kenya, authorities said.

He was seen as second-in-command to Fazul Abdullah Mohammed, who directed al-Qaeda’s bombings of the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998.

Al-Barjawi reportedly worked for a West London refrigeration and air-conditioning company before moving to East Africa. The Foreign Office denied reports that he was a British national.

Al-Shabaab celebrated his death in a statement on a jihadist website, using his alias Abu Hafsa.

“Throughout his stay in Somalia, Abu Hafsa participated in most of the major battles and was known for his gallantry and steadfastness in the face of the crusaders and their apostate allies,” the Islamists said.

Al-Barjawi is the fourth senior al-Qaeda commander killed in Somalia since 2008. A Somali soldier killed Fazul Mohammed at a Mogadishu checkpoint last year and two others, Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan and Aden Hashi Ayro, died in US strikes in 2009 and 2008.

But there are still believed to be dozens of foreign fighters in al-Shabaab’s ranks.

Several British citizens have been arrested in Kenya recently heading for Somalia with the alleged aim of joining the Islamists’ war to oust the weak Western-backed government there.

Kenya invaded its anarchic neighbour late last year in a bid to crush al-Shabaab after the group was accused of kidnapping Westerners from northern Kenya.


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