A U.S. drone strike in southern Somalia last week killed a leader of the Islamist militant group al-Shabab, the Pentagon confirmed on Wednesday.
The airstrike on March 12 hit a car carrying Adan Garaar, a top official in al-Shabab’s security service, the Amniyat, as reported by VOA the day of the attack.
The Pentagon says Garaar had worked for al-Shabab’s intelligence wing and was connected to the 2013 attack on the Westgate Mall attack in Nairobi, Kenya, as first reported by VOA Somali service. The mall attack killed more than 60 people.
The Pentagon said the drone strike near Diinsoor, about 150 miles (240 km) west of Mogadishu, “has dealt another significant blow” to al-Shabab.
The group released a video last month calling for attacks on Western shopping malls. The video prompted two North American shopping malls, the Mall of America in the U.S. state of Minnesota and the Edmonton Mall in Edmonton, Canada, to operate with higher security measures.
The Mall of America is one of the largest malls in the United States.
Minnesota is home to a sizeable Somali immigrant population. A Minnesota man was indicted recently on charges of conspiring to support the Islamic State extremist group and lying to federal agents investigating recruitment by militant groups.
Prosecutors say dozens of people from Minnesota, many of them Somali-Americans, have traveled or attempted to travel overseas to support groups such as Islamic State or al-Shabab since 2007.
U.S. law enforcement officials have been concerned about the potential for radicalization among members of immigrant communities.