Saturday, October 5, 2013

Capture of Anas al-Liby/Navy SEAL strike against al-Shabab

The near-simultaneous capture of Anas al-Liby, a longtime Al Qa'ida planning and logistics officer (and a suspected plotter for the 1998 US Embassy bombings), represents an important counter-terrorism success for the United States. His detention will also allow for some relief at GMP, New Scotland Yard and Thames House - embarrassingly, al-Liby was granted asylum in the UK until 2000 and then escaped the country before a belated raid by UK authorities. One positive - he left behind AQ's operational handbook aka the 'Manchester Manual'. That intelligence coup afforded western intelligence services a crucial insight into AQ's operational methodology. Anyway, these two actions illustrate the US counter-terrorism apparatus at its best - patient, resourceful and decisive.

(Updated 01:20 EST Sunday): Early Saturday, a force of DEVGRU SEALs attacked an al-Shabab compound on the Somali coast. The New York Times reports a US Government source as stating that the attack took place after a period of 7-10 days of planning. This suggests that the US had high confidence intelligence that their intended target would be at the location. Nevertheless, the BBC is reporting that the assault failed to capture or kill the target. We'll have to wait for a few more hours for confirmation on that. Regardless, it does appear that the SEALs encountered heavier than expected resistance and were forced to withdraw.
          Two weeks ago, I suggested that this specific type of military operation would likely form an increasingly important element of the US response to the Westgate atrocity. Though US counter-terrorism operations in Somalia are far from a new development, I'm glad that President Obama appears to have ordered an increasingly aggressive US posture against al-Shabab.

Like the global Salafi-Jihadist movement it supports, al-Shabab must be confronted.

Finally, it's worth remembering that we're lucky to have such skillful special forces units at our disposal. Their capabilities are hard won.

Related thoughts - under 'Other' section.

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