Target of SEAL raid in Somalia tied to top al Qaeda leaders
The Oct. 5 raid by US Navy SEALs in the Somali coastal town of Barawe that targeted Shabaab's external operations chief Abdulkadir Mohamed Abdulkadir, who is also known as Ikrima, may have killed "two senior foreign fighters." Ikrima was linked to two top al Qaeda leaders who have been killed by the US over the past four years.
The Department of Defense confirmed that Ikrima was the target of the raid, and also confirmed that he was not captured during the operation:
Ikrima is a top commander in the terrorist group al-Shabaab, an al-Qa'ida affiliate. Ikrima is closely associated with now-deceased al-Qa'ida operatives Harun Fazul and Saleh Nabhan, who played roles in the 1998 bombing of the United States embassy in Nairobi, Kenya and in the 2002 attacks on a hotel and airline in Mombassa, Kenya that resulted in the deaths of Kenyan and Israeli citizens, including children.
The goal of the operation was to capture Ikrima under legal authorities granted to the Department of Defense by the Authorization to Use Military Force (2001) against al-Qa'ida and its associated forces.
While the operation did not result in Ikrima's capture, U.S. military personnel conducted the operation with unparalleled precision and demonstrated that the United States can put direct pressure on al-Shabaab leadership at any time of our choosing.
Ikrima was in close contact with al Qaeda's general command in Pakistan and was behind a plot to conduct attacks in Kenya that have since been foiled. From The Associated Press:
In the internal report by Kenya's National Intelligence Service, Abdulkadir is listed as the lead planner of a plot sanctioned by al Qaeda's core leadership in Pakistan to carry out multiple attacks in Kenya in late 2011 and early 2012. The AP has previously reported that those attacks, linked to the Somali Islamic extremist group al-Shabaab, were disrupted.
The report, which was leaked to AP and other media in the wake of the Sept. 21 terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Mall that killed more than 60 people, lists Samantha Lewthwaite -- a Briton known in British media as the "White Widow" -- as one of several "key actors" in the plot to attack Parliament buildings, the UN Office in Nairobi, Kenyan Defence Forces camps and other targets. The plotters also intended to assassinate top Kenyan political and security officials, the report said.
The National Intelligence Service report, in an entry dated exactly one year before the Sept. 21 mall attack, said al-Shabab operatives were in Nairobi "and are planning to mount suicide attacks on undisclosed date, targeting Westgate Mall and Holy Family Basilica." Two suspects were believed in possession of suicide vests, grenades and AK-47 assault rifles, the report said.
The report also warns of "Mumbai-style attacks," referring to the assaults in Mumbai, India in 2008 in which operatives stormed several locations with guns and grenades
While Ikrima has not been directly linked to the Westgate Mall assault, given his role in planning similar plots, it is highly probable that he had a hand in the deadly operation. Ikrima's ties to Fazul Abdullah Mohammed, al Qaeda's former leader in East Africa and a senior Shabaab commander, who was killed at a checkpoint in Mogadishu in 2011, also make it likely that he was involved in Westgate. Somali troops found documents in which Shabaab detailed its desire to conduct "International Operations," or terror attacks outside Somalia. One document detailed how Fazul plotted for attacks in London that would be "similar to ... Mumbai."
Two foreign jihadists reported killed in Barawe raid
According to Shabelle, "a Swedish Somali and a Sudanese national," were killed in the attack. Their deaths have not been confirmed and Shabaab has denied that any senior leader was killed.
The Sudanese Shabaab commander, said to be Awab al Uqba or Sheikh Abdirahim, was an officer in Amniyat, Shabaab's intelligence arm, Shabelle reported. The "Swedish Somali" is said to be Abdi Qadar; his position in Shabaab was not disclosed.