cnn orig arwa damon isis north africa terror explainer_00005401.jpg
cnn orig arwa damon isis north africa terror explainer_00005401.jpg
Now playing
01:37
Exporting terror to North Africa
A bomb disposal police officer (R)checks a car in a sealed off area on the Champs-Elysees avenue in Paris, on June 19, 2017 after a car crashed into a police van before bursting into flames, with the driver being armed, probe sources said. 
A source close to the investigation said the driver was "seriously injured".  / AFP PHOTO / Thomas SAMSON        (Photo credit should read THOMAS SAMSON/AFP/Getty Images)
THOMAS SAMSON/AFP/Getty Images
A bomb disposal police officer (R)checks a car in a sealed off area on the Champs-Elysees avenue in Paris, on June 19, 2017 after a car crashed into a police van before bursting into flames, with the driver being armed, probe sources said. A source close to the investigation said the driver was "seriously injured". / AFP PHOTO / Thomas SAMSON (Photo credit should read THOMAS SAMSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Now playing
01:34
Armed man rams car into police van in Paris
police champs elysees paris bell beeper _00010403.jpg
police champs elysees paris bell beeper _00010403.jpg
Now playing
01:19
Car rams police truck on iconic Paris street
Kashmiri demonstrators hold up a flag of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) during a demonstration against Israeli military operations in Gaza, in downtown Srinagar on July 18, 2014. The death toll in Gaza hit 265 as Israel pressed a ground offensive on the 11th day of an assault aimed at stamping out rocket fire, medics said. AFP PHOTO/Tauseef MUSTAFA (Photo credit should read TAUSEEF MUSTAFA/AFP/Getty Images)
TAUSEEF MUSTAFA/AFP/Getty Images
Kashmiri demonstrators hold up a flag of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) during a demonstration against Israeli military operations in Gaza, in downtown Srinagar on July 18, 2014. The death toll in Gaza hit 265 as Israel pressed a ground offensive on the 11th day of an assault aimed at stamping out rocket fire, medics said. AFP PHOTO/Tauseef MUSTAFA (Photo credit should read TAUSEEF MUSTAFA/AFP/Getty Images)
Now playing
03:01
The anatomy of a terror attack
paris attack brussels terrorism search mclaughlin lok early_00002124.jpg
Belgium Interior Ministry
paris attack brussels terrorism search mclaughlin lok early_00002124.jpg
Now playing
01:23
Fingerprint of Paris terror suspect found in Brussels
france paris attack surveillance video_00003513.jpg
BFMTV
france paris attack surveillance video_00003513.jpg
Now playing
00:45
New images show fugitive Paris attack suspect
Now playing
03:05
New Paris terror attacker identified
Now playing
02:09
A look at how ISIS uses encrypted communications
PARIS, FRANCE - NOVEMBER 13:  Policemen patrol the streets during gunfire near the Bataclan concert hall on November 13, 2015 in Paris, France. Gunfire and explosions in multiple locations erupted in the French capital with early casualty reports indicating at least 60 dead.  (Photo by Antoine Antoniol/Getty Images)
Antoine Antoniol/Getty Images Europe/Getty Images
PARIS, FRANCE - NOVEMBER 13: Policemen patrol the streets during gunfire near the Bataclan concert hall on November 13, 2015 in Paris, France. Gunfire and explosions in multiple locations erupted in the French capital with early casualty reports indicating at least 60 dead. (Photo by Antoine Antoniol/Getty Images)
Now playing
01:09
Paris attacks in 1 minute
paris attack hero 1 year later bittermann pkg_00004707.jpg
paris attack hero 1 year later bittermann pkg_00004707.jpg
Now playing
02:35
French hero has life-changing year
father explains paris terror attacks to young son orig_00000000.jpg
father explains paris terror attacks to young son orig_00000000.jpg
Now playing
01:03
French father explains terror attacks to his young son
paris mourning shubert pkg_00001016.jpg
paris mourning shubert pkg_00001016.jpg
Now playing
02:32
Paris mourns for the dead
Police are seen near the Cafe La Belle Equipe at the Rue de Charonne in Paris on November 14, 2015, following a series of coordinated attacks in and around Paris late Friday which left more than 120 people dead.  AFP PHOTO / LOIC VENANCE        (Photo credit should read LOIC VENANCE/AFP/Getty Images)
Loic Venance/AFP/Getty Images
Police are seen near the Cafe La Belle Equipe at the Rue de Charonne in Paris on November 14, 2015, following a series of coordinated attacks in and around Paris late Friday which left more than 120 people dead. AFP PHOTO / LOIC VENANCE (Photo credit should read LOIC VENANCE/AFP/Getty Images)
Now playing
01:53
ISIS claims responsibility for Paris attacks
ESPN Deportes
Now playing
00:45
Explosion heard at Paris soccer game
paris attacks terror hostage plaud pleitgen 4a_00002913.jpg
paris attacks terror hostage plaud pleitgen 4a_00002913.jpg
Now playing
01:42
Concert hall 'a bloody mess' after terror attack
paris attacks nowak concert escape sot_00000830.jpg
paris attacks nowak concert escape sot_00000830.jpg
Now playing
01:02
Witness describes his escape from Paris attack
Now playing
01:49
Police storm Paris concert hall
Now playing
01:23
Hear gunfire outside The Bataclan theater
Now playing
04:57
Chilling details about attack in Paris theater

Story highlights

Operation was planned and put in motion before Paris terror attacks

Pentagon: This is the first U.S. strike against an ISIS leader in Libya

(CNN) —  

The U.S. military on Friday killed the senior ISIS leader in Libya, the Pentagon said.

Abu Nabil, an Iraqi national and longtime al Qaeda operative, was taken out in an airstrike authorized and initiated prior to the terrorist attacks in Paris on Friday night, said Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook.

“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.

Nabil – also known as Wissam Najm Abd Zayd al Zubaydi – may also have been the terror group spokesman who appeared in a February video showing the execution on a beach by ISIS of Coptic Christians who had been taken prisoner.

Cook said Nabil’s death will degrade ISIS’s ability to recruit new members in Libya, establish bases in the country, and plan external attacks on the United States.

RELATED: U.S. ‘reasonably certain’ drone strike killed ‘Jihadi John’

President Barack Obama said Friday that the U.S. strategy against ISIS has “contained them,” but not yet succeeded in its effort to “decapitate” the group’s leadership.

“I don’t think they’re gaining strength,” Obama told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos on Thursday for an interview that aired Friday morning.

“What is true, from the start our goal has been first to contain and we have contained them,” Obama added. “They have not gained ground in Iraq and in Syria. They’ll come in. They’ll leave. But you don’t see this systemic march by ISIL across the terrain. What we have not yet been able to do is to completely decapitate their command and control structures. We’ve made some progress in trying to reduce the flow of foreign fighters.”

RELATED: Obama: ISIS not growing, but not ‘decapitated’

At the White House, Obama called the attacks in Paris an “outrageous attempt to terrorize innocent civilians” and the President pledged the U.S. government’s assistance to France.

“This is an attack on all of humanity and the universal values we share,” Obama said Friday in a statement delivered in the Briefing Room. “We stand prepared and ready to provide whatever assistance the people of France need to respond.”

Obama added, “This is a heartbreaking situation, and obviously those of us here in the United States know what it’s like and we’ve gone through these kinds of episodes ourselves.”

RELATED: Why did Obama declare ISIS ‘contained’ the day before Paris attacks?

CNN’s Karl de Vries and Tom LoBianco contributed to this report.