US raids in Somalia and Libya raise questions over Africa ops
Commandos pluck al-Qaeda suspect out of Tripoli, but Seal Team Six raid on al-Shabaab beaten back
US commandos seized a senior al-Qaeda figure from his home in Tripoli on Saturday and transported him to a warship in the Mediterranean for questioning. But a second US raid on terrorists in Somalia - an apparent retaliation for the attack on the Westgate shopping centre in Nairobi - seems to have ended in "failure and retreat," The Guardian reports.
Abu Anas al-Libi, an al-Qaeda lieutenant wanted for the 1998 bombings of the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania that killed more than 220 people, was reportedly seized as he parked his car outside his family home in Tripoli on Saturday. The New York Times says he is being held aboard the USS San Antonio where he will be questioned before being sent to the US to face trial.
A second US operation - "an amphibious assault" - against militants in a coastal town in Somalia, was reportedly in response to the Westgate shopping centre attack by al-Shabaab. The Navy Seals (pictured above in a training excersise) were "beaten back by heavy fire" and apparently abandoned some of their equipment, with photographs later posted on the internet by the militants, the Guardian reports.
US Secretary of State John Kerry said the two operations proved that terrorists "can run but they can't hide". But Tripoli has accused America of "kidnapping" al-Libi and the website Mother Jones has raised questions about the "startling size" of US operations in Africa and suggested it faces serious questions about the "consequences of unilateral aggression".
The raid in Somalia had all the hallmarks of a daring US special forces operations, says the Guardian. Members of Seal Team Six - the unit that killed Osama Bin Laden - swam ashore at about 2.30am, before morning prayers. Their target was a two-storey building in Barawe, about 60 miles south of the capital Mogadishu, believed to house foreign members of al-Shabaab.
The Seals assaulted the buildings using silenced weapons, triggering what one witness described as a "heavy gun battle".
US officials told AP that the Seals had encountered "fiercer resistance than expected", so their unit leader decided to abandon the mission after a fire fight lasting about 20 minutes. A witness told AP that three rounds of ammunition from an M16 rifle, a US-made hand grenade and a bulletproof jacket had been left behind by the attackers.
Al-Shabaab also claimed it had killed one of the Seals' "senior officers", but US officials have denied the unit suffered any casualties. ·