By Saturday night, officials in Washington were offering a few details of two bold attacks by the U.S. military and the CIA against multinational terrorists — both surprise actions in Africa.
Whereas it had been widely expected that Kenya’s army would retaliate against the Al-Shabab terrorist group — blamed for the massacre of over 60 people in the Nairobi shopping mall last month — so an incursion by Kenyan forces into Somalia seemed likely, it turned out that the first counter-blow was landed by America’s Navy SEAL commandos.
They landed from the sea and attempted to kill or capture one of the Al-Shabab leaders. American officials said this was indeed a response to the Nairobi terrorist assault. Because an intense gunbattle developed in the Somali town, the SEALs withdrew before they could confirm whether their target had been liquidated.
Although U.S. counter-terrorism officials have frequently said, “There’s no bad time to strike hard against the enemy,” the timing of this mission — the 20th anniversary of the “Black Hawk Down” incident in Somalia that was highly embarrassing for the U.S. — seemed more than mere coincidence.
On the same day, Saturday, U.S. officials revealed that military commandos, the CIA, and FBI agents who specialize in capturing “most wanted” fugitives had managed to capture a senior al-Qaeda operative in Libya’s capital, Tripoli.
Nazih Abdul-Hamed al-Ruqai, known within al-Qaeda as Anas al-Libi (“Anas the Libyan”), was wanted by American prosecutors for his alleged role in the bombings that killed over 230 people and damaged the U.S. embassies in Nairobi and Dar Es Salaam (Tanzania) in 1998.
The Libyan government, which has myriad problems and inconsistent control of its own territory, claims it was not informed beforehand by the United States. As for the attack by vaguely described terrorists in Benghazi, Libya, on September 11 of last year, that remains unpunished — although the U.S. is plainly trying to demonstrate that it has a long memory and a long arm.
When it comes to terrorism, that gutsy attitude is right out of the Israeli military and Mossad playbook.