Gendershe, a coastal village about 30 miles south-west of Mogadishu, and died when fighters from the al-Shabaab extremist movement detonated a car bomb minutes after the raid began on 6 November, the official said.
A Somali intelligence officer who works with the US-trained Somali “Danab” special forces unit in Lower Shabelle said: “Our officers were supported by the US officers. We flew at 2am that night. The soldiers disembarked from the chopper and went on foot in the bush before a huge explosion went off and killed the American friend and four of our [Somali] officers.”
Somali officials said the operation was launched following information that three senior al-Shabaab commanders would be in Gendershe that night. Among them was Abdullahi Osman Mohamed, an expert bomb-maker believed to be responsible for many of the powerful devices that have killed hundreds of civilians in Somalia in recent years.
Mohamed, who is also known as “Engineer Ismail”, was recently listed by the US government as a “specially designated global terrorist”, a step that freezes any assets he may have in US jurisdictions and bans Americans from doing any business with him.
The listing says the 36-year-old is the group’s senior explosives expert, head of al-Shabaab’s media wing and a key adviser of Ahmed Diriye, the leader or “emir” of the movement.
Mohamed is also thought to have to have masterminded a series of attacks in the last year, New York Times reported that he was a member of the CIA’s paramilitary division, the Special Activities Center, and a former Navy Seal. CIA officers sometimes accompany military units during counter-terrorism raids to help identify targets or gather intelligence.
The listed as a global terrorist by the US state department last month.
In the most recent bomb attack by al-Shabaab, at least seven people were killed and many more injured in an ice-cream parlour in Mogadishu on Saturday. Two weeks ago, five died in another suicide attack on a restaurant near a police academy in the city.
Years of US efforts to fight extremism in Africa and bolster local countries’ capabilities have brought mixed results. A recent official report by US government inspectors on counter-terrorism efforts in much of Africa said that north African organisations such as al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and Isis-Libya were “significantly degraded” but in west Africa, Islamist extremists continued to expand.
Over the weekend, three major bases of the United Nations peacekeeping force and French troops were simultaneously attacked with rockets in Mali, while more than 110 people were killed in a massacre in north-eastern Nigeria blamed