Aden Hashi Ayrow, the leader of the Somali "Al-Shabab" militia, was killed this morning by an American airstrike in Somalia. A number of other militants died in the strike, including Sheikh Muhudiin Moalin Omar, considered to be a senior militant figure in the militia.
"Al-Shabab" (The Youth) used to function as the military wing of the Council of Islamic Courts Union (ICU) which fights the Somali government and its Ethiopian allies. In 2006, Ethiopian troops forced Al-Shabab out of the ICU, but the militia managed to regroup since then and is in fact controlling large parts of central and southern Somalia.
Ayro is an extremist Muslim who received training in Afghanistan in the 1990s and later became involved in the activities of AIAI (Al-Itihaad al-Islamiya) and the ICU, while being mentored by AIAI's leader Hassan Daher Aweys. According to various reports Ayro was involved in the killing of five western aid workers and a British journalist in 2005, which was attributed to the AIAI. It seems he and Aweys were also running training camps in Somalia, and it was Aweys who placed him in charge of the "Al-Shabab" militia.
It is believed the AIAI has had some links to Al-Qaeda figures in east Africa in the past, and some of its activists were possibly involved on a logistical level in the 1998 bombings in Nairobi and Dar al-Islam – Al-Qaeda's very first international terror attack.
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