The decision to bomb terrorist training camps in Libya last week was made after U.S. intelligence officials determined that they were connected to the bloody Berlin truck attack last month, officials said.
Tunisian-born terrorist Anis Amri ploughed a 20-ton truck through a Christmas market in the German capitol on Dec. 19, killing 12 and wounding dozens. ISIS quickly claimed responsibility for the attack and released a prerecorded selfie video of Amri pledging allegiance to the terror group.
On Wednesday, two B-2 bombers departed for a 30-hour round trip from the Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri and dropped 100 precision munitions on multiple ISIS camps southwest of the Libyan city of Sirte, killing more than 80 fighters, intelligence sources told CNN on Monday.
Anis Amri, 24, carried out the Berlin attack before getting shot to death by authorities in Italy.
The sources said the decision to strike came after they were able to tie the camps to an ISIS recruitment network in Germany that Amri had been part of. Amri was shot to death by authorities in Italy four days after carrying out the Berlin attack.
“Importantly, these strikes were directed against some of ISIL’s external plotters, who were actively planning operations against our allies in Europe,” outgoing Defense Secretary Ash Carter said during a news conference last week, using an alternative acronym for the terror group.
A man lays flowers near the Christmas market at Breitscheid square in Berlin, where Amri killed 12 people and wounded dozens.
Officials have yet to confirm if the bomb raid killed plotters suspected of having direct ties to Amri. It was not immediately revealed what the nature of those ties were, but sources speculated that the plotters were communicating with Amri over phone before the Christmas market attack.
Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook said among those present in the Libyan camps were extremists trying to reestablish themselves after getting pushed out from their previous stronghold in Sirte by U.S.-backed forces.
“We’ve been watching them for some time,” Cook said. “These were groups of fighters who have been on the move. They have not stayed in the same place for extended period of time. And this was an opportunity that presented itself that we wanted to take advantage of.”