US Navy SEALs apparently attacked two terrorist strongholds in Libya and Somalia, capturing a senior al Qaeda official and potentially killing a top al Shabaab official. The attacks happened sometime in the past few days.
The media reported hearing the information from anonymous US officials, as well as Pentagon Spokesman George Little, who declined to provide much detail.
No Americans were wounded or killed in either operation, though one SEAL team came under gunfire during the operation in Somalia. According to one official, the US team also "took all necessary precautions to avoid civilian casualties." However, some al Shabaab casualties were inflicted.
The operation's aim was to capture an al Shabaab target. However, the team was unable to capture its target and withdrew due to fire before it could confirm the official's death. The Muslim militant group claimed responsibility for the September 21 attack on a popular Nairobi, Kenya, mall that killed 61 people.
Al Shabaab hopes to make Somalia a fundamentalist Islamic state, but its progress has been hampered by troops from African countries, including Kenya.
The second Navy SEAL attack targeted a terrorist compound in Libya. In that instance, a US Special Operations team apparently captured Anas al Libi, a longtime member of al Qaeda. Al Libi has been with al Qaeda since at least 1994 and was a confidant of Osama bin Laden.
He is also suspected of being one of the masterminds behind the 1998 US Embassy attacks in Kenya and Tanzania. The attacks killed 12 Americans and more than 220 Kenyans. Because al Libi was indicted in a New York court in connection with the attacks, he could eventually be taken to the United States to stand trial.
It wasn't the first time US Special Operations forces staged a raid near Barawe, where the al Shabaab compound is. A helicopter commando assault on September 14, 2009, killed alleged al Qaeda member Saleh Ali Nabham, who was also suspected in the 1998 attacks, as well as the 2002 bombing of a resort hotel in Mombasa, Kenya.
While the two attacks reportedly carried out by Navy SEALs happened near the same time, it is unclear if they are in any way related.
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