Libya, Somalia raids show U.S. reach, problems

Sun Oct 6, 2013 7:56pm EDT
 
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By Ghaith Shennib and Abdi Sheikh

TRIPOLI/MOGADISHU (Reuters) - Two U.S. raids in Africa show the United States is pressuring al Qaeda, officials said on Sunday, though a failure in Somalia and an angry response in Libya also highlighted Washington's problems.

In Tripoli, U.S. forces snatched a Libyan wanted over the bombings of the American embassy in Nairobi 15 years ago and whisked him out of the country, prompting Secretary of State John Kerry to declare that al Qaeda leaders "can run but they can't hide".

But the capture of Nazih al-Ragye, better known as Abu Anas al-Liby, also provoked a complaint about the "kidnap" from the Western-backed Libyan prime minister; he faces a backlash from armed Islamists who have carved out a share of power since the West helped Libyan rebels oust Muammar Gaddafi two years ago.

In Somalia, Navy SEALS stormed ashore into the al Shabaab stronghold of Barawe but, a U.S. official said, they failed to capture or kill the target among the Somali allies of al Qaeda.

U.S. officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters the target was a Kenyan of Somali origin known by the name Ikrima, described as a foreign fighter commander for al Shabaab in Somalia.

One of the officials said it was not known if Ikrima was connected to last month's attack on Westgate mall in Nairobi by al Shabaab gunmen in which at least 67 people were killed.

Kerry, on a visit to Indonesia, said President Barack Obama's administration was "pleased with the results" of the combined assaults early on Saturday. "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," he said.

Two years after Navy SEALs finally tracked down and killed al Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden in Pakistan, a decade after al Qaeda's September 11 attacks on the United States in 2001, the twin operation demonstrated the reach of U.S. military forces in Africa, where Islamist militancy has been in the ascendant.   Continued...

 
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry gestures during a news conference at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) ministerial meeting in Nusa Dua, Bali island October 5, 2013. REUTERS/Beawiharta