US forces fail to capture top al-Shabaab figure in Somalia

US forces fail to capture top al-Shabaab figure in Somalia

WASHINGTON - Agence France-Presse
US forces fail to capture top al-Shabaab figure in Somalia

US Marines pivot into position during a live-fire exercise on the flight deck of the amphibious transport dock ship USS San Antonio (LPD 17) in the Mediterranean Sea. Al-Qaeda operative Abu Anas al-Libi (inset) was allegedly interrogated on this ship. AFP Photo

US Navy SEALs were hunting a top commander of the Islamist al-Shabaab group in a weekend raid in Somalia, a US official revealed on Oct.7, as Washington defended twin operations in African nations as legal.
Abdulkadir Mohamed Abdulkadir, a Kenyan of Somali origin, who is a foreign fighter with al-Shabaab and goes by the alias Ikrima, was the target of Saturday’s assault on the southern Somali port of Barawe, the US official said.

The Kenyan is linked with two Al-Qaeda operatives, now deceased, who played roles in the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, the official said. The two Al-Qaeda operatives, named as Fazul Abdullah Muhammed and Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan, are also believed to have played a role in the 2002 attacks against Israeli targets in Mombasa, Kenya.

The strike in Somali follows last month’s siege of an upscale shopping mall in the Kenyan capital Nairobi, in which 67 people were killed.

The New York Times said that Ikrima, identified as a top al-Shabaab planner, was not linked to that attack but the raid was prompted by fears that he could be planning a similar assault on Western targets.

It was not immediately clear what happened to Abdulkadir, in one of the two U.S. raids at the weekend, with U.S. Navy Seals also targeting and capturing alleged Al-Qaeda operative, Abu Anas al-Libi, in Libya.

The Times cited a U.S. official as saying Abdulkadir had likely been killed in the strike on his beachfront villa, but the SEALs were forced to withdraw before confirming the kill.

Libya summons envoy

Libya’s government summoned US ambassador Deborah Jones to seek clarification over the capture by American special forces of an alleged Al-Qaeda operative in Tripoli, the foreign ministry announced yesterday.

Tripoli has said it was not informed in advance of the raid on Saturday, when Libi was snatched in broad daylight from his car in the capital.

Libi -- whose real name is Nazih Abdul Hamed al-Raghie -- was on the FBI’s most wanted list with a $5 million bounty on his head for his alleged role in the 1998 twin bombings of two US embassies in East Africa. Libi is reportedly being held aboard a US naval ship in the Mediterranean.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry insisted on Oct. 7the capture of Libi, who was indicted in the 1988 bombings, was legal amid a furious response from Tripoli, which demanded answers about what it called his “kidnap.” Libi had a $5 million FBI bounty on his head, and Kerry described him as “a key Al-Qaeda figure, and he is a legal and an appropriate target for the U.S. military.” Libi had committed “acts of terror” and had been “appropriately indicted by courts of law, by the legal process,” Kerry told reporters on the sidelines of an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Indonesia.

“The United States of America is going to do everything in its power that is legal and appropriate in order to enforce the law and protect our security,” he said.

But when asked whether the United States had informed Libya before the raid, Kerry refused to say.

“We don’t get into the specifics of our communications with a foreign government on any kind of operation of this kind,” he said. His defense of the operation came after Libya on Oct.6 demanded an explanation from Washington.