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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Al Qaeda Bomber Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan Killed in Somalia

By VOA News 15 September 2009

U.S. military officials say American special forces staged an attack in southern Somalia Monday and killed a Kenyan-born terrorist suspect.

Witnesses in the area said soldiers in at least two helicopters fired on a vehicle near the southern town of Barawe, killing at least two passengers and wounding two others.

Kenyan terror suspect Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan talks to a relative on a mobile phone in the Nairobi High Court (2004 File)U.S. officials say the attack killed Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan, whom authorities have linked to al-Qaida.

Nabhan was wanted by U.S. intelligence for questioning about attacks against a hotel and a plane in Mombasa, Kenya, in 2002.

  • Authorities say special forces troops have taken his body into U.S. custody.
  • Earlier reports said those involved in Monday's raid appeared to be French, but the French military has denied staging a raid in Somali territory.
  • The Barawe area is controlled by the insurgent group al-Shabab, which is fighting to topple the Somali government.
The Rest @ VOA

-From Yahoo News

MOGADISHU (Reuters) – U.S. special forces in helicopters attacked a car in southern Somalia on Monday and killed one of east Africa's most wanted al Qaeda militants, Somali and U.S. sources said.

Kenyan-born Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan, 28, was suspected of building the truck bomb that killed 15 people at a Kenyan hotel in 2002, as well as involvement in a simultaneous, but botched, missile launch at an Israeli airliner leaving Mombasa airport.

A senior Somali government source said the fugitive was in a car with other foreign insurgents from the al Shabaab rebel group when they were hit near Roobow village in Barawe District, some 250 km (150 miles) south of the capital Mogadishu.

Washington says al Shabaab is al Qaeda's proxy in Somalia.

A U.S. official in Washington, speaking on condition of anonymity, said U.S. special operations forces aboard two helicopters that flew from a U.S. Navy ship opened fired on the vehicle that they believed contained Nabhan.

The troops took the body into custody, the official said and said they were confident the body was that of Nabhan.

The official said a total of four Somalis were killed while the Somali government source said that Nabhan and four others died.

"These young fighters do not have the same skills as their colleagues in Afghanistan or elsewhere when it comes to foreign air strikes," the government source told Reuters. "They are in confusion now. I hope the world takes action."

Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman declined to comment "on any alleged operation in Somalia."

Western security agencies say the failed Horn of Africa state has become a safe haven for militants, including foreign jihadists, who use it to plot attacks in the region and beyond.

Nabhan, who has long been on the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Most Wanted list, is believed to have fled to Somalia after the 2002 bombing of a Israeli-owned Kenyan beach hotel.


The United States says another leading al Qaeda suspect who may be in Somalia, Sudanese explosives expert Abu Talha al-Sudani, is believed to have orchestrated those two attacks.

The U.S. military has launched air strikes inside Somalia in the past against individuals Washington blames for the bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1988.

In May last year, U.S. warplanes killed the then-leader of al Shabaab and al Qaeda's top man in the country, Afghan-trained Aden Hashi Ayro, in an attack on the central town of Dusamareb.

Under Ayro, al Shabaab had adopted Iraq-style tactics, including assassinations, roadside bombs and suicide bombings.

Several residents said they believed some French commandos had been involved in Monday's operation in Barawe, but a defense ministry spokesman in Paris denied any involvement.

French forces have also launched raids inside Somalia in the past to rescue French nationals held by rebels and pirates. Paris has a large military base in neighboring Djibouti.

Last month, one of two French security advisers kidnapped by Somali insurgents in July managed to escape from his captors and fled to the presidential palace in Mogadishu.

His colleague is still being held by al Shabaab, and some Somalis feared he would be killed in revenge for Monday's raid.

Somali President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed's administration controls only small parts of the nation's drought-ridden region and a few districts of the bullet-scarred coastal capital.

Violence has killed more than 18,000 Somalis since the start of 2007 and driven another 1.5 million from their homes.

That has triggered one of the world's worst aid emergencies, with the number of people needing help leaping 17.5 percent in a year to 3.76 million, or half the population.

The Rest @ Yahoo News

-from AP
MOGADISHU, Somalia – U.S. special forces aboard helicopters penetrated into Somalia and, guns blazing, attacked a convoy said to contain a top al-Qaida fugitive. A local official, citing intelligence reports, confirmed on Tuesday the target was killed and Islamist insurgents vowed to seek revenge.

Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan, a Kenyan citizen, was wanted for questioning in connection with the car bombing of a beach resort in Kenya and the near simultaneous attempt to shoot down an Israeli airliner in 2002. Ten Kenyans and three Israelis were killed in the blast at the hotel. The missiles missed the airliner.

Monday's commando-style action took place amid growing concerns that al-Qaida is gaining a foothold in this lawless nation.

Many experts fear Somalia is becoming a haven for al-Qaida, a place for terrorists to train and gather strength much like Afghanistan in the 1990s. Last year, U.S. missiles killed reputed al-Qaida commander Aden Hashi Ayro — marking the first major success after a string of U.S. military attacks in 2008.

Two U.S. military officials said that forces from the U.S. Joint Special Operations Command were involved in Monday's raid in southern Somalia. The officials gave no details about the target, and they spoke on condition of anonymity because the operation was secret.

But the deputy mayor for security affairs in Somalia's capital, citing intelligence reports, confirmed that 30-year-old Nabhan was killed.

Abdi Fitah Shawey did not elaborate.

Somali witnesses to Monday's raid say six helicopters buzzed an insurgent-held village near Barawe, some 155 miles (250 kilometers) south of Mogadishu, before two of the aircraft opened fire on a vehicle, killing two and wounding two.

Two senior members of al-Shabab, who asked that their names not be used because they are not authorized to speak publicly, said their fighters will retaliate for the raid.

"They will taste the bitterness of our response," one of the commanders told The Associated Press in a telephone interview.

Ernst Jan Hogendoorn, Horn of Africa Project Director of the International Crisis Group, said the "surgical" precision of Monday's raid shows that U.S. has specific intelligence in Somalia.

"I think it will certainly make al-Shabab leaders much more cautious when they are operating because obviously the United States has very precise intelligence about their movements," he said.

Like much of Somalia, Barawe and its surrounding villages are controlled by the militant group al-Shabab, which the U.S. accuses of having ties to al-Qaida. Al-Shabab, which has foreign fighters in its ranks, seeks to overthrow the government and impose a strict form of Islam in Somalia.

The U.N.-backed government, with support from African Union peacekeepers, holds only a few blocks of Mogadishu, the war-ravaged capital.

The Rest @ The AP

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