A U.S. Navy SEAL was killed in Somalia Thursday on a U.S. mission involving the al-Shabaab terror group. It was the first U.S. military combat death in Somalia since the infamous 1993 Black Hawk Down mission.
Almost immediately upon arriving on a mission location 40 miles west of Mogadishu, American and Somali troops came under intense gunfire.
“We helped bring them in there with our aircraft,” Pentagon spokesman Captain Jeff Davis said Friday, per ABC News. “We were there maintaining a distance back as they conducted the operation, that’s when our forces came under fire and we had the unfortunate casualty.”
In addition to the death of the Navy SEAL, two Americans were injured on the “advise-and-assist” mission.
So, what brought brings our troops to the east African state rife with Islamic extremism?
U.S. African Command (AFRICOM) says that American forces are there in an advisory role to the Somali National Army.
"Al-Shabaab presents a threat to Americans and American interests," AFRICOM said in a statement Friday. "Al Shabaab's affiliate, al-Qaeda has murdered Americans; radicalizes and recruits terrorists and fighters in the United States; and attempts to conduct and inspire attacks against Americans, our allies and our interests around the world, including here at home.”
U.S. forces are in Somalia to “degrade the al-Qaeda affiliate's ability to recruit, train and plot external terror attacks throughout the region and in America,” the statement added.
Indeed, al-Shabaab has been able to successfully recruit a number of Somali immigrants resettled in an area of Minnesota that has come to be known as “Little Mogadishu.” As of late 2016, dozens of individuals from Minnesota’s Somali community have been recruited by al-Shabaab, Fox News reports.
However, as CR Senior Editor Michelle Malkin has argued, this internal radicalization issue is also largely due to a broken refugee program that allows individuals from radical Islamic countries to come into the country and live in resettlement zones that are detached from the American melting pot.
And given that Somalia hardly has a functioning government, it’s hard to see how American efforts in the country will pay off in the long term. Additionally, Somalia is one of the least free countries on the planet. Skeptics have challenged the wisdom of an American government picking a winner in a semi-failed state that does not have the ability to defend either its borders or its people.
But U.S. military officials are said to be encouraged by the new president of Somalia, Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo (a dual-American citizen), who is reportedly more invested in the campaign against jihadi terrorism.
There are an untold number of American troops in Somalia (reports range from dozens to hundreds). In April, President Trump authorized a larger troop contingent there to assist in the mission to stave off al-Shabaab. The new deployment will consist of about 40 more soldiers, a military official told CNN.
The U.S. pulled troops out of Somalia after the “Black Hawk Down” battle that saw 18 U.S. servicemen killed and another 73 wounded.
Somalia was one of the countries listed when President Trump attempted to impose an immigration moratorium on individuals coming from radical Islamic strongholds. The executive orders, however, were struck down by federal judges under questionable authority.