"A major symbolic and operational loss" for Al-Shabab. That's how the U.S. Department of Defense is describing the death of the Somali jihadist group's co-founder, Ahmed Godane.
Al-Shabab is an Al-Qaeda-linked group known for its 2013 attack on the Westgate shopping mall in Kenya that killed 67 people. Godane's leadership position made him one of the State Department's most wanted men. (Video via Channel 4)
The U.S. Department of Defense confirmed Godane's death Friday — claiming he was killed in an airstrike on a convoy he was traveling in Monday. (Video via BBC)
Some quick context on Ahmed Godane. BBC reports, "His rise to power within al-Shabab is unparalleled and in many ways counterintuitive in the history of Somalia's political and military formations."
Godane, a reclusive man, came from the northern region of Somaliland with no loyalties to Al-Shabab. And Somalia is an area, an analyst told BBC, "where clan loyalties and affiliation trump everything else."
So how did he become so powerful among the clan? (Video via CTV)
"The answer probably lies in the fact that Godane was free of the clan rivalries which dominate southern Somalia, putting him in an ideal position to unite young Somalis under the banner of a hard-line Islamic ideology."
But back to his death — what could killing one of the top commanders of the Somali terror group mean for the United States?
SKY NEWS: "It's a big prize in a broader context of America's war on terror. ... But particularly given the backdrop of the growing and unpredictable threat coming out of Iraq and Syria from the Islamic State."
Somalia analyst Abdi Aynte wrote on Twitter the death of Godane "could be the beginning of the end" for Al-Shabab.