Navy SEALs free 2 Western hostages in Somalia

US Navy SEALs from SEAL Team Six conducted a successful nighttime raid in Somalia to free an American woman and a Danish man being held by kidnappers in Somalia. From the BBC:

Two foreign aid workers kidnapped in Somalia three months ago have been freed in a rare US military raid.

US officials have confirmed that elite US Navy Seals were dropped into Somalia to carry out the overnight operation which resulted in a shoot-out.

The two hostages were freed uninjured, although nine of their captors are said to have been killed. No casualties have been reported among US forces.

The hostages – a US woman and a Danish man – were seized on 25 October.

BBC Security correspondent Frank Gardner says Wednesday’s rescue is the highest profile US action in Somalia since it pulled its forces out of the country in 1994.

I’d disagree with the BBC correspondent that this is the “highest profile US action in Somalia” since 1994. There are three other times when US personnel are known to have taken direct action in Somalia in the past five years. First, US forces (CIA and special operations forces) are known to have engaged the Islamic Courts Union several times in late 2006 and early 2007 when the Ethiopians invaded Somalia in December 2006.

Second, a US Navy warship and US personnel targeted al Qaeda leader Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan in June 2007 off the coast of Somalia’s semi-autonomous region of Puntland. After the USS Chafee opened fire on their speedboats, 35 Islamic Courts fighters were killed.

Third, US special operations forces killed Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan in September 2009 during a daring helicopter raid in the southern Somali town of Barawe. Nabhan’s body was recovered during the raid.

Additionally, US conventional aircraft and unmanned aerial vehicles (the Predator and Reaper drones) as well as sea-launched cruise missiles have been used to target Islamic Courts and Shabaab targets since 2006. The Long War Journal counts nine such incidents, including the two mentioned above. Just last weekend, the US killed Bilal al Berjawi, a senior al Qaeda and Shabaab commander, in a Predator strike south of Mogadishu.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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  • Gerald says:

    Way to go Navy!! And good work AirForce/CIA on that drone strike! The terrorists will be shaking in their sandals whenever they use a phone. Scary

  • mike merlo says:

    “Release the hounds!”

  • Mirage says:

    God Bless the Navy Seals for saving those two innocent civilians!

  • namvet says:

    When it comes to international military actions, I depend fully on The Long War Journal. Thank you Bill.

  • Devin Leonard says:

    HOO-YAAH SEAL Team 6 does it again. Our tier 1 units are the best in the world bar none, both Delta and SEAL 6.

  • David says:

    Dear Bill Roggio
    Personally, the unit known as the Navy SEALs 6 Team is actually a more specialiazed unit within SOCOM than regular SEALs called Navy SEALs Development Group or Devgru for short. In terms of effieciency, they have been compared to Delta Force and even SAS and Sayaret Maktal, which according to former Mossad chief Meir Dagan. I think they are the best in the world and that is an objective opinion, even though I have somewhat of an American bias.
    David Verbryke

  • Devin Leonard says:

    David… Having worked in Special Operations via the US Marine Corp’s, (Marine Special Operations Regiment) I have a somewhat personal knowledge of units such as Britian’s SBS (Who we worked with in Iraq and Afghanistan) and of our Tier 1 units such as Delta and SEAL 6, although I stress we never directly worked with either unit. But We knew of thier talent and proficiency. Alhtough I am biased I have heard Israeli and British commentators compare SEAL 6 and Delta, the SAS and Israel’s Sayaret Maktal as basically the 4 best Special Ops/Counter Terror units on earth. Where we have the acknoweledged advantage is technology. We have the best training/weaponry and technology money can buy and that gives us the edge. Former SAS veteran and current author Andy McNab said as much not long ago in an interview with the BBC.

  • Mac says:

    Thank you to all of them.

  • David Verbryke says:

    Dear Devin Leonard,
    Thank you very much for the Special Ops information. While Sayaret Maktal is very formidable, it is more celebrated because of its brilliant operation at Entebbe and its Operation Wrath of God, which unlike Mr. Spielberg’s Munich film, they were special operatives, not Mossad’s Kidon Unit. Another unit I have heard in the arsenal of Israel’s formibadle assassins besides Sayaret Mak’tal and Mossad’s Kidon (Spear) unit, they also have a unit that infiltrates especially Palestinean and/or Arab terrorists exclusively, speaking Arabic and living with them, learning their habits and springing the trap, or as their motto goes, “The killers you know will come from ones you know who have a smile on their face.” They are Mistra’Avarim meaning “to become an Arab.” Like any special operative unit, they are good at their given tasks and for instance, Mossad’s assassin teams, known as the Kidon are known for daring, absolute patriotism to eliminate enemies, and minute knowledge and respect of their enemies. The SAS is probably the best overall Special Ops team from what I know, and their tactics and their abilities are well known. The US Marine’s Reconnosaince Advance teams is deserving of mention as I had a relative in the Marines, who later went on to serve in JSOC, but I think that of the regular forces, the Marine Corps is the best infantry group in the world, and they deserve praise for what they have done in the rather hellish places of Afghanistan and Iraq. I am partial to the Navy SEALs as one of my close family members served in one of the teams, which they still will not discuss. I have a preference for DEVGRU as I think that they, had it not been for Obama’s media error in airing in our successful execution of bin Laden, they would be much more less known, but as British Intelligence says of us, “Americans are a species of British that learned gu-honess and idealism as they crossed the Atlantic.”
    David Verbryke

  • Devin Leonard says:

    David. I agree that the SAS are as good as our guys but I wouldn’t say they are better! Since the Black-hawk down incident, and particularly since 9/11 our tier 1 units Delta and SEAL 6 have become the pre-eminent counter-terror/Spec Ops teams on the planet. The SAS has just held that distinction for a longer time frame. Now we are all about equal. That was Andy McNab’s basic analysys. I still think our technology gives our guys the edge like the “Stealth Blackhawk” in the Bin Laden raid and so forth. But the SAS has experience in the Flaklands and brutal places like Northern Ireland against the IRA and very tuff adversary. And they go back to WWII tecnically. Either way the Brits and the US. have the best Spec Ops units in the world IMHO. I was proud to have been a Force Recon Marine and then been selected to join the MSOR. Regards…Devin


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