The Pentagon announced on Thursday that it killed two Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) members in an airstrike in Syria last month who were planning attacks against the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom.
A U.S. military airstrike on April 22 killed Sudanese citizen Abu Sa'ad al-Sudani and his Australian wife, Shadi Jabar Khalil Mohammad, Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook said at a Thursday briefing.
"Al-Sudani was involved in planning attacks against the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. Both al-Sudani and his wife were active in recruiting foreign fighters in efforts to inspire attacks against Western interests," Cook said.
He said the couple had previously plotted and had been involved with "external plots against the United States and other countries" but declined to say whether those plots included attacks within the U.S., which would have been an alarming revelation.
"We are satisfied that they posed a threat to the United States and that we were able to strike before, perhaps, this plotting reached the point that it posed a specific threat inside the United States, but we're satisfied that they were plotting against U.S. interests, Western interests and also countries in addition to the United States," Cook said.
When pressed again whether they were plotting attacks within the U.S., Cook said, "I'm not going to get into — I'm just not going to get into specifics."
"Again, I'm making clear that they posed a threat to the United States and to other countries, and that this action, we believe, has eliminated that threat," he said.
"These are people who as I said, had previously plotted, been involved with external plots against the United States and other countries," he said. "And I'm not going to walk though -- I don't have the exact details here in front of me. But again, these people posed a threat to the United States, to our allies, and that's the reason this strike was carried out."
The U.S. has been targeting senior ISIS leaders as part of its military campaign against the terrorist group.
While Cook did not describe either al-Sudani or Shadi as senior, he said they were "influential ISIL recruiters and extremists," using another acronym for ISIS.
He said the two had "plotted in the past against Western interests, including the United States," and had the potential to do the same again, but declined to say whether the plots were carried out, citing an unwillingness to discussed classified intelligence matters.
Cook said the strike was not reported until the U.S. verified the its results.
The announcement comes two days after ISIS overran a Kurdish peshmerga outpost in northern Iraq and killed a Navy SEAL.