Pentagon (Illustration)
Pentagon (Illustration) Thinkstock

The Pentagon confirmed on Friday that Ahmed Abdi Godane, leader of the Somali Al-Shabaab terrorist group, was killed in a U.S. airstrike in Somalia this week, Reuters reported.

"We have confirmed that Ahmed Godane, the co-founder of Al-Shabaab, has been killed," Rear Admiral John Kirby, the Pentagon's press secretary, said in a statement.

Kirby said that the death of Godane was a "major symbolic and operational loss" for the Al-Qaeda-affiliated group.

Since taking charge of Al-Shabaab in 2008, Godane had restyled the group as a global player in the Al-Qaeda network, carrying out bombings and suicide attacks in Somalia and elsewhere in the region, including the September 21, 2013, attack on the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya, that killed 67 people.

Godane publicly claimed responsibility for the Westgate attack, saying it was revenge for Kenyan and Western involvement in Somalia and noting its proximity to the anniversary of the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.

U.S. and Somali officials confirmed earlier this week that an American military airstrike in Somalia targeted Godane, but at the time it was not yet confirmed that he had been killed.

U.S. President Barack Obama, attending a NATO summit in Wales, mentioned the confirmation to reporters, saying, according to Reuters, "We released today the fact that we have killed the leader of Al-Shabaab in Somalia."

He also noted the United States has worked persistently to degrade the group's operations.

A separate statement from White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said the operation that killed Godane was the result of "years of painstaking work by our intelligence, military and law enforcement professionals."

Earnest said the administration would continue to use financial, diplomatic, intelligence and military tools to address the threat posed by Al-Shabaab.

The group has also been carrying out guerrilla attacks in parts of the Somali capital Mogadishu, where it is fighting the Western-backed government of Somalia.

Godane's close associate, Ahmed Mohamed Amey, was killed by a U.S. airstrike in January.

(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)