Another day, another dead terrorist leader. This time, the dead terrorist guy was Taliban chief Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansour, killed by a U.S. drone strike in Pakistan, and everyone is cheering, because everyone knows that each dead terrorist leader is, well, another dead terrorist leader.
Mullah Mansour’s death is “an important milestone,” President Barack Obama declared on Monday morning. But it’s a milestone on the road to nowhere.
After all, we’ve passed this milestone several dozen times before. Let’s briefly recap:
- In April, U.S. and Kurdish forces killed Salman Abu Shabib al-Jebouri, a “senior” Islamic State leader in Iraq. In March, S. forces killed “top Islamic State commander” Abd al-Rahman Mustafa al-Qaduli in Syria. The United States also killed Islamic State “deputy”Haji Imam and “senior operative” Abu Omar al-Shishani in Syria that same month. In February, U.S. strikes killed Noureddine Chouchane, another “senior” Islamic State operative in Libya.
- In 2015, the United States managed to kill “senior al-Shabab leader” Abdirahman Sandhere in Somalia; militant chiefs Mokhtar Belmokhtar and Khawray Mehsud in Pakistan; Islamic State “No. 2” Fadhil Ahmad al-Hayali in Iraq; al Qaeda leader Nasir al-Wuhayshi in Yemen; and Ustad Ahmad Farooq, the deputy emir of al Qaeda in the Indian subcontinent.
- In 2014, U.S. strikes killed terrorist leader Ahmed Abdi Godane in Somalia, followed by al-Shabab intelligence and security chief Tahlil Abdishakur, as well as Nusra Front leader Abu Yousef al-Turki, who was killed by U.S. strikes in Syria, and Omar Farooq, a senior al Qaeda coordinator. The United States also successfully targeted Mufti Sofian and Abu Bakar, both senior commanders in the Afghan Taliban.
- In 2013, the United States killed Said al-Shehri, the second in command of al Qaeda in the Arabia Peninsula (AQAP). The Taliban’s original leader, Mullah Mohammed Omar, also bit the dust in 2013, though he reportedly died of a non-drone-related illness, and his death apparently made so little difference to the Taliban that no one even noticed he was dead until 2015.
- In 2012, U.S. strikes killed another “al Qaeda No. 2,” Abu Yahya al-Libi, in Pakistan; senior al Qaeda leader Sakhr al-Taifi in Afghanistan; AQAP leader Fahd Mohammed Ahmed al-Quso in Yemen; Taliban ally Badruddin Haqqani in Pakistan; and Jemaah Islamiyah leaderZulkifli bin Hir in the Philippines.
- In 2011, U.S. drones killed Fazul Abdullah Mohammed in Somalia; the American cleric and al Qaeda propagandist Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen; al Qaeda’s chief of operations in Pakistan, Abu Hafs al-Shahri; and Atiyah Abd al-Rahman, reportedly al Qaeda’s second in command after Osama bin Laden’s death; along with Ilyas Kashmiri, said to be a senior Pakistani al Qaeda operative. And, of course, we killed Osama bin Laden himself, al Qaeda’s original No. 1.
I left out a few dozen other senior terrorist leaders, most of whom were also killed by U.S. strikes, but you get the idea.
Read the Remainder at Foreign Policy