On December 25th, 2014, peacekeepers, military contractors, and other civilians operating as part of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) at the Halane Base Camp were celebrating Christmas when they came under attack by militants from al-Shabaab.

Al-Shabaab militants dressed as Somali soldiers managed to infiltrate the African Union’s main base. Two of the militants wearing suicide vests detonated themselves near a fuel depot, creating the distraction and cover for the other members to initiate their attack. In the end, AMISOM claims three (some reports claim five) of its soldiers and a foreign contractor were killed by the al-Qaeda-affiliated group. Al-Shabaab was reported to have lost five of its own, with three more captured during the raid.

Halane Base Camp, located just outside of the Mogadishu International Airport, is home to the UN command in the region as well as other international agencies, including the nearby hub for the U.S. government’s clandestine counter-terrorism operations against al-Shabaab. Unlike previous UN peacekeeping missions throughout history, the AMISOM mission is one of not just peacekeeping and humanitarian aid, but also of direct combat operations in conjunction with Somalia’s armed forces to battle al-Shabaab.

As for U.S. operations, the CIA retains a very large facility in one corner of the Mogadishu International Airport. The heavily fortified compound, adjacent to the AMISOM camp, is now also the main hub for targeted drone strikes against al-Shabaab militants—one of which took the life of al-Shabaab’s leader, or emir, Ahmed Abdi Godane, in September 2014. It’s a safe bet that numerous U.S. personnel work and operate in the base camp.

Credible information has emerged that the “foreign contractor” was in fact a former U.S. Army soldier who served with both the 7th Special Forces Group and Delta Force. Although the nature of the operations conducted by the CIA in the Horn of Africa remain highly secretive, much has been released to the public by the Department of Defense. As for the mission of the fallen operator, he was most likely part of the CIAs training and advising of Somalia’s National Intelligence and Security Agency, or NISA; the counter-terrorism force stood up in early 2013 by the CIA itself.

(Featured Image Courtesy: Washington Times)