The U.S. military conducted an airstrike in Libya on Friday against an Iraqi national who was a longtime al-Qaida operative and the senior Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant leader in Libya, Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook said.
In a statement, Cook said the strike targeted Abu Nabil, also known as Wissam Najm Abd Zayd al Zubaydi.
Reporting suggests Nabil may have been the spokesman in ISIL’s February Coptic Christian execution video, the press secretary added.
“Nabil's death will degrade ISIL's ability to meet the group's objectives in Libya,” he said, “including recruiting new ISIL members, establishing bases in Libya, and planning external attacks on the United States.”
While this was not the first U.S. strike against terrorists in Libya, this is the first U.S. strike against an ISIL leader in Libya, and it demonstrates that the United States will go after ISIL leaders wherever they operate, Cook said.
The press secretary added that this operation was authorized and initiated before the terrorist attack in Paris took place.
Meanwhile, sources in Derna have told Libya Herald that the airstrikes did not kill the intended target.
(Source: US Dept of Defense, Libya Herald)