According to NBC News, a raid by Navy SEALs in southern Somalia failed in its objective to seize an Al Shabab warlord known as Ikirma. The SEAL raid came less than a month after his group, which has been designated as a terrorist organization by the U.S. Department of State, carried out a deadly attack on the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya. That assault killed more than 60 people.
NBC also reported that in Libya, U.S. forced captured Anas al Libi, who has long been sought by the U.S. for his alleged role in masterminding the 1998 attacks on the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.
The Al Shabab terrorist leader managed to evade capture thanks to a sentry who spotted the SEALs in an Al Shabab compound before they could gain the element of surprise. According to a U.S. security official, the raid was planned about a week and a half ago, and was brought on by the mall attack.
Al Shabab is an Al Qaeda-affiliated terror organization that is based in Somalia — a country that has received increased attention from the U.S. and other Western countries thanks to the prevalence of radical Islam in a country with an extremely weak central government. In many parts of Somalia, the government exerts no influence. This is particularly true of the south, which Al Shabab controls and imposes
This SEAL raid is the most notable boots-on-the-ground U.S. military action in the country since commandos killed Al Qaeda operative Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan.
A Kenyan military official said that it was able to identify four of the Westgate attackers from surveillance footage — Abu Baara al-Sudani, Omar Nabhan, Khattab al-Kene and a man identified only as Umayr.
In the areas it controls, Al Shabab imposes a harsh system of sharia law, where stonings and amputations have been administered as punishment for adultery and theft. According to Human Rights Watch, the group has been known to kidnap young boys and forced them to fight in battle.