The U.S. military’s airstrike on an Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant training camp early today near rural Sabratha, Libya -- a strike that also targeted a senior ISIL facilitator -- was conducted after surveillance showed both were threats to U.S. national security, Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook said in a news conference today.
Following up on a written statement he had issued this morning, Cook told reporters the airstrike was a success in targeting the camp and high-value operative Noureddine Chouchane, also known as "Sabir," a Tunisian national.
Chouchane was a suspect in the deadly March attack on the Bardo Museum in Tunis, Cook said, and he reportedly moved potential ISIL-affiliated foreign fighters from Tunisia to Libya and other countries. He was associated with the Sabratha camp in particular, Cook added.
The press secretary emphasized that officials determined removing Chouchane as an ISIL leader “would make a difference to the organization of ISIL in Libya.”
Defense Secretary Recommended Strike
President Barack Obama authorized the manned and unmanned aircraft strike based on Defense Secretary Ash Carter’s recommendation after the camp was monitored for weeks and showed training was underway with as many as 60 leaders and trainees at a time, Cook said.