Saturday was a banner day for the United States military. While Congress and the White House prove how dysfunctional the political arm of the country is, its military conducted two raids in one continent, netting two major terrorist leaders. As a bonus, one of them was captured alive.
The world first got wind when NBC Nightly News tweeted the following breaking item at 5:11 pm:
BREAKING UPDATE: U.S. Navy SEALs capture senior leader of al Shabaab in pre-dawn raid in Somalia, U.S. officials say
— NBC Nightly News (@nbcnightlynews) October 5, 2013
Minute-by-minute, tweet-by-tweet, details slowly emerged. A Navy SEAL team conducted a pre-dawn raid in the seaside Somali village of Baraawe. Their target was an al-Shabab terrorist leader responsible for the brutal Nairobi Westgate Mall attack.
“The Baraawe raid was planned a week and a half ago,” said an American security official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to The Times. “It was prompted by the Westgate attack,” he added, referring to the mall in Nairobi that was overrun by militants two weeks ago.
The SEAL team approached the villa from the Indian Ocean, and began using sound-suppressed weapons. The initial raid soon turned into a prolonged firefight. The New York Times reported:
Witnesses in the area described a firefight lasting over an hour, with helicopters called in for air support. A senior Somali government official who spoke on the condition of anonymity confirmed the raid, saying, “The attack was carried out by the American forces and the Somali government was pre-informed about the attack.”
Early reports indicated that the unnamed, senior al-Shabab leader responsible for the Nairobi attack had been captured, but it now appears he had been killed, although the SEAL team was unable to positively confirm.
Less than an hour after NBC’s first tweet, it tweeted that U.S. special forces had engaged in a second African raid.
Two raids in two countries net two of the worlds most-wanted terrorists http://t.co/AllbdVGETE
— NBC News (@NBCNews) October 5, 2013
The second raid was in Tripoli, Libya. The target was Abu Abas al Libi, a senior al-Qaida leader with a $5 million bounty on his head for the Aug. 7, 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania.
U.S. officials claim that the timing of the two raids on the same day was purely coincidental, according to The Times, and that of the two targets:
Abu Anas, the Libyan Qaeda leader, was the bigger prize, and officials said Saturday night that he was alive in United States custody. While the details about his capture were sketchy, an American official said Saturday night that he appeared to have been taken peacefully and that “he is no longer in Libya.”
There’s no indication that Abu Abas had anything to do with the terrorist raid on the U.S. foreign mission in Benghazi, Libya a year ago. The leaders of that raid remain at large.
While the politicians in Washington are at loggerheads, the military stormed the beachheads Saturday and showed us all how to “git r done.”
One final thought: While members of the special forces units must — for the safety of themselves and their families — remain anonymous, the president isn’t under that restriction. He’ll undoubtedly get a bump in the ratings as a result.
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