Foreign forces launched a night raid on a rebel-held town in Somalia’s southern Lower Shabelle region from the sea Oct. 4. “Westerners in boats attacked our base at Barawe beach and one was martyred from our side,” Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Musab, al-Shabaab’s spokesman for military operations, told Reuters by telephone. Sources indicated that the target of the raid may have been Shabaab leader Mukhtar Abu Zubeyr AKA Ahmed Godane—but he was apparently not killed or captured. It is unclear whether any Shabaab leaders were killed in the operation. Pentagon spokesman George Little told NBC the next day: “I can confirm that yesterday, Oct. 4, US military personnel were involved in a counterterrorism operation against a known al-Shabaab terrorist. We are not prepared to provide additional detail at this time.” (BBC News, NBC, Garowe Online, Oct. 5)
Also Oct. 5, a Kenyan military spokesman released the names of the four militants he said had been identified in the attack on the Westgate Mall in Nairboi last month, that killed at least 67 people. Maj. Emmanuel Chirchir named the attackers as Abu Baara al-Sudani, Omar Nabhan, Khattab al-Kene and Umayr. A private TV station in Nairobi meanwhile obtained and broadcast the video footage from the mall, showing no more than four attackers—apparently contradicting earlier government statements that between 10 to 15 attackers were involved in the Sept. 21 attack. Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the assault, saying it was retaliation for Kenya’s ongoing military intervention in Somalia.
Matt Bryden, the former head of the UN Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea, said via email that al-Kene and Umayr are known members of al-Hijra, the Kenyan arm of al-Shabaab. He added that Nabhan may be a relative of Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan, one of the most-wanted al-Qaeda operatives in the region and an alleged plotter in the 1998 bombings at the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. He was killed in 2009 when Navy SEALS led a strike in the town of Barawe in Somalia where he was hiding. (AP via Shabelle News, Oct. 5)
Kenya’s port city of Mombasa exploded into angry protest Oct. 4 following the killing of a Muslim cleric, Sheikh Ibrahim Ismail, by an unknown assailant. Rioters torched a church amid gunfire and tear gas as police attempted to put down the protests. The slain cleric was viewed as the successor to Aboud Rogo Mohammed, a controversial preacher accused by the US and UN of links to al-Shabaab, who was similarly assassinated in August 2012. Abubaker Shariff Ahmed AKA Makaburi—apparently next in the line of succession—accused the police of the “outright execution” of Ismail and his comrades. “The police are killing people while saying it is a war against terrorism, this is a war against Islam.” said Makaburi, a former close colleague of Rogo. (Sabahi, US Africa Command, Oct. 4)
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Details emerge on Somalia raid
Foreign Policy reports that the Barawe raid was carried out by SEAL Team Six and the target was a supposeldy Qaeda-affiliated “Somali-born Kenyan” named Abdulkadir Mohamed Abdulkadir AKA Ikrima. Gunfire was exchanged, but the SEALs withdrew when it came became clear that Ikrima could not be taken without inflicting heavy civilian casualties. The SEAL raid was supposedly ordered rather than a drone strike out of concern for the civilians in the village.
US drone strike kills Shabab leaders
An apparent US military drone strike on a vehicle in Somalia’s Middle Juba region killed two Shabab leaders, including the group’s top explosives expert, known as Anta. (CBS, Oct. 28)
Kenya bombs Somalia
The Kenya Defence Forces said their warplanes bombed a rebel training camp at Hurguun in Shabaab-controlled Somalia, which had been linked to September’s deadly attack on a mall in Nairobi. (Al Jazeera, Oct. 31)