The Pentagon announced Saturday that an airstrike targeted the leader of Islamic State in Libya, an attack that marks the first time the U.S. has directly gone after the extremist group outside of Iraq or Syria.
The strike was aimed at Abu Nabil, a.k.a. Wissam Najm Abd Zayd al Zubaydi, an Iraqi national who was a longtime Al Qaeda operative and the Islamic State leader in Libya.
“While not the first U.S. strike against terrorists in Libya, this is the first U.S. strike against an ISIL leader in Libya, and it demonstrates we will go after ISIL leaders wherever they operate,” Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook, said, using an acronym for the militant group.
The strike in Libya is unrelated to the terror attacks that took place Friday night in Paris that killed more than 125 people, the Pentagon said.
The Pentagon suggested Zubaydi may have been the spokesman in the February Coptic Christian execution video, showing the beheading of 21 Egyptians along the southern Mediterranean coast.
The Pentagon said Zubaydi’s death, if confirmed, will degrade the group’s ability to recruit new members, establish bases in Libya and plan external attacks on the United States.