U.S. Navy SEALs took part in a predawn raid in Somalia on Saturday, a strike aimed at capturing a senior leader of the Al-Shabaab terrorist group, reports the Wall Street Journal (WSJ).
The raid failed to capture the senior terrorist and it isn’t clear if he was killed, although several Al-Shabaab members were killed, according to an official.
Al-Shabaab has claimed responsibility for the recent deadly attack at a Nairobi shopping mall. The raid, however, wasn’t a direct response to the attack on the mall, according to the U.S. official.
The raid, in the Somali town of Barawe, appeared to be the most significant strike by American commandos in the country in years.
The SEALs called off the mission to capture the terrorist after the gun battle appeared to put civilians at risk. “We disengaged after the initial assault on Al-Shabaab. We took precautions to minimize civilian casualties,” the official told WSJ.
The official said it wasn’t clear if the senior Al-Shabaab leader had a direct role in the Nairobi attack.
Officials said the senior Al-Shabaab member was a terrorist the U.S. had been watching for some time, since before the Nairobi attack.
The fact that the raid was aimed at capturing him is unusual, although not without precedent. In April 2011, commandos captured Ahmed Abdulkadir Warsame, a terrorist with ties to Al-Shabaab, as he was crossing the Gulf of Aden.
Barawe is a stronghold of Al-Shabaab, a group aligned with Al-Qaeda.
The U.S. officials wouldn’t say whether the leader who was targeted in the raid was killed.
Meanwhile, a video has emerged showing four Al-Shabaab gunmen involved in the massacre at the Westgate shopping center in Nairobi, Kenya.
It shows the attackers walking through a storeroom in the mall, searching other adjacent rooms and walking near the cash registers of a supermarket. The CCTV pictures were apparently shot as the massacre was ongoing, while many victims remained trapped inside the mall.