The Pentagon touted their successful assassination of al-Shabaab leader Ahmed Godane as a “major symbolic loss” to the faction, but it isn’t clear how big of a difference it will actually make to their day to day operations.
Godane’s successor, Ahmad Umar, is said to be a far more charismatic leader, who is a good public speaker. That’s a major shift from the reclusive Godane, whose communication was primary by radio.
The big change might be that the assassination moved the US quite a ways up the ladder of future targets, with the group promising to launch attacks inside the United States in retaliation for Godane’s killing.
Al-Shabaab’s operations have been almost exclusively inside southern Somalia and northern Kenya, though they have on occasion launched attacks elsewhere, like the 2010 strike in Uganda, one of the nations involved in the AU operation in Somalia.
US officials have vowed more strikes on al-Shabaab, saying they threaten the US homeland. If they didn’t have such grand ambitions before, after these attacks they surely will.