The U.S. military on Saturday carried out two chilling, intense operations against important terrorism suspects nearly simultaneously. One involved an hour-long firefight in Somalia. The other took place in a dangerous, unstable Libya and involved American troops capturing an al-Qaeda leader just after dawn.
Nazih Abdul-Hamed al-Ruqai, also known by his nom de guerre, Abu Anas al-Liby, has been one of the U.S. government's most desired terrorism targets for over a decade, with a $5 million bounty on his head. Al-Liby was indicted by a federal court in New York in 2000 for his alleged role in the 1998 embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania that killed more than 220 people. But recently the former al-Qaeda leader, one of the last remaining pillars of the original operation led by Osama bin Laden, was seen walking the street in Tripoli, Libya. And so yesterday's operation was given the go ahead. The U.S. Army's Delta Force moved in early Saturday morning to capture their target, alive, per the Associated Press:
Family members said gunmen in a three-car convoy seized al-Libi outside his home in the Libyan capital, Tripoli. Al-Libi is believed to have returned to Libya during the 2011 civil war that led to the ouster and killing of dictator Moammar Gadhafi.
His brother, Nabih, said the 49-year-old was parking outside his house early Saturday after dawn prayers, when three vehicles encircled his vehicle. The gunmen smashed his car's window and seized his gun before grabbing al-Libi and fleeing. The brother said al-Libi's wife saw the kidnapping from her window and described the abductors as foreign-looking armed "commandos."
Not exactly the best way to spend your Saturday morning. But that's how quickly the military can swoop in and snatch up terrorism suspects.
Elsewhere in Northern Africa, a team of Navy SEALs attacked a known al-Shabab hangout targeting the group's leader. They were to capture or kill him and, unfortunately, they retreated after a long firefight that required air reinforcements before confirming whether or not their goal was accomplished.
"We hope that this makes clear that the United States of America will never stop in the effort to hold those accountable who conduct acts of terror," Secretary of State John Kerry told reporters after news of the raids broke. "Members of al-Qaida and other terrorist organizations literally can run but they can't hide."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.