Navy SEALs Somalia, MOGADISHU, SomaliaIn a stealthy seaside assault in Somalia, U.S. special forces on Saturday struck out against Islamic extremists who have carried out terrorist attacks in East Africa, before eventually aborting the mission to capture a leading terrorist suspect linked to last month’s Nairobi shopping mall attack after a fierce firefight.
A U.S. Navy SEAL team swam ashore near a town in southern Somalia before militants of the al-Qaeda-linked terrorist group al-Shabab rose for dawn prayers, U.S. and Somali officials told The Associated Press. The raid on a house in the town of Barawe targeted a specific al-Qaeda suspect related to the mall attack, but the operation did not get its target, one current and one former U.S. military official told AP.
Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the raid publicly.
In Washington, Pentagon spokesman George Little confirmed that U.S. military personnel had been involved in a counterterrorism operation against a known al-Shabab terrorist in Somalia, but did not provide details.
U.S. officials said there were no U.S. casualties in the Somali operation.
The Somali raid was carried out by members of SEAL Team Six, the same unit that killed al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in his Pakistan hideout in 2011, another senior U.S. military official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to speak publicly.
But this time, SEAL Team Six members encountered fiercer resistance than expected so after a 15-20 minute firefight, the unit leader decided to abort the mission and they swam away, the official said. SEAL Team Six has responsibility for counterterrorism activities in the Horn of Africa.
Within hours of the Somalia attack, the U.S. Army’s Delta Force carried out a raid in Libya’s capital, Tripoli, to seize a Libyan al-Qaeda leader wanted for the 1998 bombings of the U.S. Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania that killed more than 220 people, the military official said. Delta Force carries out counterterrorism operations in North Africa.