Tripoli, Libya
Tripoli, Libya

The U.S. Defense Department says a U.S. airstrike has killed the head of the Islamic State group in Libya.

In a statement, Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said the target of the strike, Abu Nabil, was an Iraqi national and an al-Qaida operative.

Cook described Nabil, also known as Wissam Najm Abd Zayd al-Zubaydi, as the senior IS leader in Libya and said he may have also been the spokesman in the video earlier this year showing the execution of Coptic Christians.

"Nabil's death will degrade ISIL's ability to meet the group's objectives in Libya, including recruiting new ISIL members, establishing bases in Libya and planning external attacks on the United States," Cook said.

"While not the first U.S. strike against terrorists in Libya, this is the first U.S. strike against an ISIL leader in Libya, and it demonstrates we will go after ISIL leaders wherever they operate."

Cook said the operation against Nabil was authorized and initiated prior to Friday night's terrorist attacks in Paris.

Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the Paris attacks.

Special Project

More Coverage