President Barack Obama has expanded the power of the elite Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) to track, plan, and potentially kill terrorists across the globe in places beyond the traditional war zones of Iraq, Syria, and Libya, The Washington Post (WaPo) has learned.
The move comes as the Obama administration expands the legal scope of the U.S. war against al-Qaeda to allow the U.S. military to intensify its efforts against the terrorist group’s Somalia-based affiliate al-Shabaab.
The administration has decided to deem al-Shabaab, the Islamist militant group in Somalia, to be part of the armed conflict that Congress authorized against the perpetrators of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, according to senior American officials. The move is intended to shore up the legal basis for an intensifying campaign of airstrikes and other counterterrorism operations, carried out largely in support of African Union and Somali government forces.
The Obama administration is expected to officially notify Congress of its al-Shabaab decision next month in a letter listing global deployments.
“It is part of the Obama administration’s pattern of relaxing various self-imposed rules for airstrikes against Islamist militants as it tries to help its partner forces in several conflicts,” notes the Times.
Meanwhile, citing unnamed U.S. officials, WaPo notes that the decision to expand JSOC’s powers is “driven by concerns of a dispersed terrorist threat as Islamic State [ISIS/ISIL] militants are driven from strongholds in Iraq and Syria.”
JSOC is the U.S. military unit that helped kill al-Qaeda’s former leader Osama bin Laden in a 2011 raid by Navy SEALs.
“The [new JSOC] missions could occur well beyond the battlefields of places like Iraq, Syria and Libya where Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) has carried out clandestine operations in the past,” it adds. “When finalized, it will elevate JSOC from being a highly-valued strike tool used by regional military commands to leading a new multi-agency intelligence and action force.”
The U.S. military is simultaneously backing ongoing operations to push ISIS out of the terrorist group’s de-facto capitals of Mosul in Iraq and Raqqa in Syria.
SOURCE:Horndiplomat, Newyorktimes,Washington post, CCTV