The target was Abu Nabil, also known as Wissam Najm Abd Zayd al Zubaydi, an IS spokesman who appeared in a February propaganda clip showing the grisly execution of 21 Christians from Egypt, Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook confirmed Saturday.
“Nabil’s death will degrade ISIL’s ability to meet the group’s objectives in Libya including recruiting new ISIL members, establishing bases in Libya, and planning external attacks on the United States,” Cook said, using the American acronym for the global terror group.
“While not the first US strike against terrorists in Libya, this is the first US strike against an ISIL leader in Libya and it demonstrates we will go after ISIL leaders wherever they operate,” he added.
An official speaking to Reuters said that while several jihadi groups around the world have called themselves IS, many of the offshoots do not have a proper relationship with “the home office” in Syria and Iraq. However Abu Nabil, he said, was part of the main infrastructure of the terror organization.
“This guy (Nabil) had a no-kidding relationship back with main ISIL,” the official said.
Sources close the jihadis in Derna told Libya Channel that Abu Nabil was a major “international connection” for IS and had been more commonly known by his nickname “Al-Anbari”, referencing the western province in Iraq where is believed to be from.
“The planes circled for a while before dropping the missiles. We knew immediately they weren’t Libyan planes they were too sophisticated, and operating in the middle of the night,” the resident said.
They shifted their main operations to Sirte, in the centre of the country, where they have implemented strict interpretation of Sharia Law and staged other bloody massacres of anti-jihadi rebels, perceived apostates and Christians.