Tuesday, October 8, 2013

US Special Operations Raids in Africa Target Terrorist Leaders

Members of the US Navy's SEAL Team 6 carried out a raid at a compound in southern Somalia that was believed to be housing senior members of the Al Shabaab islamist terrorist group over the weekend. Experts said the raid was aborted midway when the SEALs were spotted and a firefight broke out, negating the chances of taking their intended target alive.
As the mission progressed, the SEALs came out of the Indian Ocean in small boats before dawn, but they were spotted as they moved toward a seaside compound. A firefight broke out.

With the element of surprise gone, the SEALs lost their chance to take him alive. The SEAL commander decided not to call in air strikes because of women and children in the compound. Instead, he ordered his men to withdraw to a Navy ship offshore.
The raid comes less than two weeks after gunmen from Al Shabaab massacred at least 68 people in a shopping mall in the Kenyan capitol of Nairobi.

On Monday, the Kenyan military released the identities of the mall attackers who were killed when the portion of the mall they were in collapsed in an explosion. They include an American Somali known as Khattab al-Kene, who may have been living under a different name in Minnesota. Other assailants identified included a Sudanese national with purported Al Qaeda ties and couple of Kenyan muslims from Mombassa- including Omar Nabhan who is said to have a role in the 1998 twin bombings of the US Embassies in Nairobi and the Tanzanian capitol of Dar Es Salaam as well as a 2002 attack on an Israeli-owned hotel in Mombasa and a failed attempt to shoot down a chartered Israeli passenger plane.

The intended target of the Somali raid is reportedly an al Shabaab operative known as Abdulkadir Mohamed Abdulkadir or Ikrima. Kenya's intelligence agency has implicated Abdulkadir in a thwarted plot to attack Kenya's parliament and UN Offices in Nairobi.

The mall attacks represent a dramatic shift for al Shabaab, which got its start in the Horn of Africa a few years ago with the stated goal of implementing islamic shari'a law and overthrowing Somalia's provisional government.

Last month, the Toronto Star obtained documents from one of Abdulkadir's predecessors that highlighted detailed plans for an attack against civilian targets in London using tactics reminiscent of the 2008 Lashkar-e-Taliba terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India that targeted upscale hotels, cafes and Mumbai's Chabad House. The documents were discovered in a Toyota where al Shabaab commander Fazul Abdullah Mohammed was shot an killed by Somali troops while attempting to run a roadblock northwest of Mogadishu in 2011.

Also over the weekend, an Al Qaeda operative under indictment for the 1998 twin embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania was arrested in Tripoli, Libya
The Pentagon said senior al Qaeda figure Anas al Liby was seized in the raid in Libya [....]

Liby, believed to be 49, has been under U.S. indictment for his alleged role in the East Africa embassy bombings that killed 224 people. The U.S. government has also been offering a $5 million reward for information leading to his capture, under the State Department's Rewards for Justice program. "As the result of a U.S. counterterrorism operation, Abu Anas al Liby is currently lawfully detained by the U.S. military in a secure location outside of Libya," Pentagon spokesman George Little said without elaborating. Liby, also known as Nazih al-Ragye, was arrested at dawn in the Libyan capital, Tripoli, as he was heading home after morning prayers, a neighbor and militia sources said. "As I was opening my house door, I saw a group of cars coming quickly from the direction of the house where al-Ragye lives. I was shocked by this movement in the early morning," said one of his neighbors, who did not give his name, "They kidnapped him. We do not know who are they." Two Islamist militia sources confirmed the incident. CNN reported in September last year that Liby had been seen Tripoli. It quoted Western intelligence sources as saying there was concern that he may have been tasked with establishing an al Qaeda network in Libya. That CNN report quoted counterterrorism analysts as saying that Liby may not have been apprehended then because of the delicate security situation in much of the country, where former jihadists hold sway. It quoted one intelligence source as saying that Liby appeared to have arrived in Libya in the spring of 2011, during the country's civil war.

Al Liby was spotted in the Libyan capitol shortly after Ghdaffi's downfall and is believed to be establishing a foothold for Al Qaeda in post-Ghdaffi Libya.

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