Friday, September 18, 2009

Nowhere to Hide

Strategy Page features an interesting report on the silent war against Islamic terrorists around the globe:

Navy SEALS reportedly launched a daring raid Tuesday in southern Somalia that targeted and killed a senior al Qaeda leader wanted for several deadly attacks. This was the latest in a series of covert operations carried out by US and allied special operations. At least four other high-profile raids by ground forces took place in Pakistan, Madagascar, and Syria over the past several years, while others have gone unreported, according to US officials.

The successful Somali raid targeted Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan, a senior al Qaeda leader in East Africa as well as a senior leader in Shabaab, al Qaeda's surrogate in Somalia. Nabhan is thought to train terrorists in Somalia and has been at the forefront in cementing ties between Shabaab and al Qaeda. He has been wanted for his involvement in the 1998 suicide attacks against US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, as well as leading the cell behind the 2002 terror attacks in Mombasa, Kenya, against a hotel and an airliner.

Reports of the operation are still unclear as the U.S. military has refused to comment. But various press accounts from eyewitnesses and unnamed intelligence sources provide a glimpse of the operation.

The operation, dubbed Celestial Balance, was approved 11 days ago after US intelligence determined that Nabhan was shuttling back and forth between the Shabaab-controlled port cities of Merka and Kismayo. A car transporting Nabhan and five other foreign fighters was escorted by another car carrying three Shabaab escorts; the vehicles were hit as they stopped for breakfast as they traveled to Kismayo.

According to one witness, upwards of six helicopters were involved in the raid. At least two AH-6 Little Bird special operations attack helicopters strafed the two-car convoy. Other helicopters dismounted Navy SEALs, who seized the body of Nabhan and another, and purportedly took two other wounded fighters captive. An unconfirmed report indicated that Sheikh Hussein Ali Fidow, a senior Shabaab leader, was among those killed. All nine al Qaeda and Shabaab leaders and fighters were killed during the operation.

It's good to know that despite the widespread view on the Left that terrorists should be treated as criminals with Miranda rights rather than as mortal enemies President Obama is pressing the fight against al Qaeda wherever they can be found. It's also good to know that we have men capable of executing such dangerous missions with skill and courage.