More details are emerging after a pair of U.S. commando raids over the weekend that targeted alleged terrorists in Libya and Somalia.
In Libya, Abu Anas al-Libi, a top al-Qaida operative accused by Washington of involvement in the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, was snatched from a street in the capital, Tripoli, in an operation on Saturday.
Eyewitnesses say al-Libi was “taken peacefully in Tripoli,” NPR Pentagon correspondent Tom Bowman tells Morning Edition.
“There was no real sign of struggle,” Bowman says, adding that al-Libi’s brother said “he was thrown into a car that sped away.”
FBI and CIA officials are said to have been involved in the snatch of al-Libi.
“There are some indications that al-Libi moved about fairly openly,” Bowman says.
The Libyan government says it was not made aware of the operation, which it has called a “kidnapping,” sharply criticizing the raid as a violation of Libyan sovereignty.
Secretary of State John Kerry defended the U.S. action, saying al-Libi was a “legal and appropriate target” for the U.S. military and that he will face justice in a court of law.
The New York Times, quoting unnamed officials, says al-Libi “is being interrogated while in military custody on [the U.S.S. San Antonio] … in the Mediterranean Sea.”
In the second raid, a U.S. Navy SEAL team swam ashore at a seaside villa south of Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, and engaged in a fierce firefight with al-Shabab militants. The target of the U.S. raid is said to have been the senior al-Shabab leader, Abdikadir Mohamed Abdikadir, alias Ikrima.
Attack helicopters took part in the raid, according to eyewitnesses, Bowman says. The SEALs later withdrew from the fighting, and it’s not yet clear whether Ikrima was killed.
“There were some al-Shabab casualties,” Bowman says. Al-Shabab says it killed some Americans, but U.S. officials say there were no casualties among the SEAL team.
NPR’s Gregory Warner says Ikrima “boasts connections to both al-Shabab in Somalia and to a Kenyan jihadist group called al-Hijra. Kenyan authorities announced Friday that two of the four terrorists killed in the Westgate Mall attack were al-Hijra militants.”
Ikrima is a Kenyan of Somali origin who ran groups of fighters in Somalia that have attacked churches in Kenya and used roadside bombs against civilians, Bowman says.