US African Command (Africom) has issued a statement Friday claiming that a Thursday airstrike in southwestern Libya killed 11 people. Africom identified all of the slain as suspected al-Qaeda members, and said they don’t think any civilians were killed.
Africom gave no indication how they identified any of these people as members of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), and indeed gives the appearances that this was a signature strike, the controversial tactic of assuming guilt when the target looks suspicious.
In this case, the US attacked three vehicles outside the town of al-Uwaynay, along the Algerian border, and it may well be that the simple proximity of three vehicles traveling together in the remote area gave them a signature to justify a strike.
US strikes in Libya are rare, this is the third since March. Officials often try to connect those slain in such attacks either to ISIS or AQIM, though in practice neither faction is believed to be particularly substantial within Libya itself.