A PRE DAWN firefight by a Navy SEAL team in Baraawe, near Mogadishu, Somalia, culminated the possible death of a senior Shabab leader, the target of the raid, who is believed responsible for the recent Nairobi shopping mall attack. His death could not be verified, because the SEAL team reportedly “was forced to withdraw” before it could be confirmed. Simultaneously, American troops, along with F.B.I. and C.I.A. agents, landed in Tripoli, Libya, successfully extracting a man known as Abu Anas al-Liby, with a $5 million bounty on his head and who has been hunted for 15 years.
Abu Anas Al-Liby was indicted in 2000 for his role in the bombing of the United States embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.
CAIRO — American commandos carried out raids on Saturday in two far-flung African countries in a powerful flex of military muscle aimed at capturing fugitive terrorist suspects. Members of a Navy SEAL team emerged before dawn from the Indian Ocean to attack a seaside villa in a Somali town known as a gathering point for militants, while American troops assisted by F.B.I. and C.I.A. agents seized a suspected leader of Al Qaeda on the streets of Tripoli, Libya.
In Tripoli, American forces captured a Libyan militant who had been indicted in 2000 for his role in the 1998 bombings of the United States embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. The militant, born Nazih Abdul-Hamed al-Ruqai and known by his nom de guerre, Abu Anas al-Liby, had a $5 million bounty on his head and his capture in broad daylight ended a 15-year manhunt.
The Somalia raid was planned more than a week ago, officials said, in response to a massacre by the militant Somali group Shabab at a Nairobi shopping mall. The Navy SEAL team targeted a senior Shabab leader in the town of Baraawe and exchanged gunfire with militants in a predawn firefight. [...]
The New York Times went to great effort to note that President Obama had promised no boots on the ground in Libya, writing “so the decision to send in Special Operations Forces was a risky one.” The Times went further to speculate on the political fall out, writing “the simultaneous attacks are bound to fuel accusations that the administration was eager for a showy victory.”
This is absurd to even mention in the same report that fully explains the reasons for the duel raids, which included the extraction of a man the U.S. has been hunting for 15 years, after what reportedly was a hellacious firefight. Not to mention a separate commando effort in another north African country that may have taken out the man responsible for the Nairobi mall attack recently.
The Times likely felt compelled to include their political angle, because in the current atmosphere the countdown clock is already ticking until someone like Sen. Lindsey Graham takes an opportunistic shot at President Obama, or some Tea Party crank from the House says something stupid.
…officials say it was a product of the decision, after Benghazi, to bolster the counterterrorism effort in Libya, especially as Tripoli became a safe haven for al Qaeda leadership. Abu Abas was one of the most senior al Qaeda officials captured in recent years.
His capture coincided with a fierce gunfight that killed 15 Libyan soldiers at a checkpoint in a neighborhood southeast of Tripoli, near the traditional home of Abu Anas’s clan.
Miles away, the firefight in the city that is a stronghold for Shabab was dramatic and intense.
Witnesses in Baraawe described a firefight lasting over an hour, with helicopters called in for air support. A senior Somali government official who spoke on the condition of anonymity confirmed the raid, saying, “The attack was carried out by the American forces and the Somali government was pre-informed about the attack.”
… A witness in Baraawe said the house was known as a place where senior foreign commanders stayed. He could not say whether they were there at the time of the attack, but he said that 12 well-trained Shabab fighters scheduled for a mission abroad were staying there at the time of the assault.
Counterterrorism efforts in North Africa have become a very serious endeavor, with U.S. engagement getting more intense throughout Obama’s presidency, with Benghazi forcing even more concentration on the escalating threats in northern Africa, which counterterrorism experts have been warning about for years.