A U.S. strike earlier this week killed Ahmed Godane, the co-founder of al-Shabaab, al Qaeda’s affiliate in Somalia.
"We have confirmed that Ahmed Godane, the co-founder of al-Shabaab, has been killed," Pentagon press secretary Rear Adm. John KirbyJohn KirbyLawmakers press Biden admin to send more military aid to Ukraine Overnight Defense & National Security — White House raises new alarm over Russia Russia sends troops to Belarus for war games MORE announced on Friday.
"The U.S. military undertook operations against Godane on Sept. 1, which led to his death," he added.
The strike was conducted by U.S. special operations using manned and unmanned aircraft to drop Hellfire missiles and other munitions, officials said earlier this week. The strikes had destroyed a vehicle and an encampment.
The White House touted Godane’s death as a major blow to the terror group.
"Godane’s removal is a major symbolic and operational loss to the largest al-Qaeda affiliate in Africa and reflects years of painstaking work by our intelligence, military and law enforcement professionals," said White House press secretary Josh Earnest in a statement.
In September 2013, al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the Westgate Mall attack in Kenya, in which armed gunmen targeted non-Muslims, killing and wounding dozens.
Godane had also overseen plots targeting U.S. citizens and other Westerners in East Africa, according to the White House.
"Even as this is an important step forward in the fight against al-Shabaab, the United States will continue to use the tools at our disposal – financial, diplomatic, intelligence and military – to address the threat that al-Shabaab and other terrorist groups pose to the United States and the American people," Earnest said.
The Pentagon said that the U.S. would continue to work with its allies to target terror groups around the globe.
"The United States works in coordination with its friends, allies and partners to counter the regional and global threats posed by violent extremist organizations," Kirby added.
This story was updated at 12:09 p.m.