Pentagon officials confirmed Friday’s raid on a Somalia compound alleged to shelter members of Al Shabab to capture an enigmatic leader known as Ikrimah.
“Ikrima is a top commander in the terrorist group,” Pentagon spokesman George Little said in a statement issued Monday afternoon.
“Ikrima is closely associated with now-deceased al Qaeda operatives Harun Fazul and Saleh Nabhan, who played roles in the 1998 bombing of the United States embassy in Nairobi, Kenya and in the 2002 attacks on a hotel and airline in Mombassa, Kenya that resulted in the deaths of Kenyan and Israeli citizens, including children.”
The Friday raid by — according to several press reports — Navy SEALs was aborted after the Americans were unable to seize Ikrimah following a firefight with al Shabab loyalists near the port of Baraawe.
“The goal of the operation was to capture Ikrima under legal authorities granted to the Department of Defense by the Authorization to Use Military Force against al Qaeda and its associated forces,” Little said. “While the operation did not result in Ikrima’s capture, U.S. military personnel conducted the operation with unparalleled precision and demonstrated that the United States can put direct pressure on al-Shabab leadership at any time of our choosing.”
The Friday raid is one of two undertaken by U.S. special operation forces against terrorist targets. On Saturday U.S. special operations forces captured Nazih Abdul-Hamed al-Ruqai — also known as by his alias Anas al-Libi — in Libya.
al-Libi is currently in U.S. custody.