US pursues al-Qaida leaders in dual Libya, Somalia raids
By Ghaith Shennib and Abdi Sheikh ,ReutersTRIPOLI/MOGADISHU -- U.S. raids in Libya and Somalia that captured an Islamist wanted for bombing its Nairobi embassy 15 years ago show Washington's determination to hunt down al-Qaida leaders around the globe, Secretary of State John Kerry said on Sunday.
October 7, 2013, 12:06 am TWN
Libyan Nazih al-Ruqai, better known by the cover name Abu Anas al-Libi, was seized by U.S. forces in Tripoli on Saturday, the Pentagon said. A seaborne raid on the Somali port of Barawe, a stronghold of the al-Shabab movement behind last month's attack on a Kenyan mall, failed to take or kill its target.
“We hope this makes clear that the United States of America will never stop in its effort to hold those accountable who conduct acts of terror,” Kerry said during a visit to Bali.
“Those members of al-Qaida and other terrorist organizations literally can run but they can't hide,” Kerry said. “We will continue to try to bring people to justice.”
The twin raids, two years after a U.S. Navy SEAL team killed al-Qaida founder Osama bin Laden in Pakistan, demonstrated American reach at a time when Islamist militants have been expanding their presence in Africa — not least in Libya following the Western-backed overthrow of Moammar Gadhafi.
Libya's government, wary of an Islamist backlash, demanded an explanation for the “kidnapping” of one of its citizens.
The target of the Somali operation was unclear but a U.S. official was quoted as saying it was planned in response to the Nairobi mall attack two weeks ago in which at least 67 were killed. That highlighted the risk of Somalia's rumbling civil conflict destabilizing a resource-rich continent where Islamists have been on the rise from west to east in recent years.
Launched in the early hours of Saturday, the Somali raid appears to have featured a beach landing in hostile territory that was followed by an extended firefight. U.S. officials said SEALs conducted the raid and had killed al-Qaida-allied al-Shabab fighters while taking no casualties themselves. Somali police said seven people were killed during the operation.
Somalia's Western-backed government, still trying to establish its authority after two decades of civil war, holds little sway in Barawe, 110 miles (180 km) south of Mogadishu.
Asked of his involvement in the U.S. operation, Prime Minister Abdi Farah Shirdon said: “We have collaboration with the world and with neighboring countries in the battle against al-Shabab.”
This image from the FBI website shows Anas al-Libi. Gunmen in a three-car convoy seized Nazih Abdul-Hamed al-Ruqai, known by his alias Anas al-Libi, outside his house in Tripoli on ...