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Secrets of the Secret War: Why Did Weekend Somalia Raid Fail?

Al-Shabaab claims it inflicted casualties, U.S. claims pullback after hour of fighting was to avoid civilian casualties, Somali minister says U.S. was outgunned.

by
Bridget Johnson

Bio

October 7, 2013 - 9:13 pm
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Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Sunday that “these operations in Libya and Somalia send a strong message to the world that the United States will spare no effort to hold terrorists accountable, no matter where they hide or how long they evade justice.”

“We will continue to maintain relentless pressure on terrorist groups that threaten our people or our interests, and we will conduct direct action against them, if necessary, that is consistent with our laws and our values,” Hagel said.

Still, the government turned more focus on the al-Libi capture, even as some Libyans angrily charged the U.S. with kidnapping the wanted terrorist. As if the Al-Shabaab nut wasn’t hard enough to crack, the failure of the raid let the terror group add another feather to its cap as it rallies jihadists in the wake of the horrifying attack on the Westgate mall in Nairobi.

Thus the details coming from Washington were shrouded in mystery much like other operations in Somalia during this administration.

President Obama told Congress in the “consolidated” version of this summer’s report on U.S. activities consistent with the War Powers Resolution that “in Somalia, the U.S. military has worked to counter the terrorist threat posed by al-Qa’ida and associated elements of al-Shabaab.”

A July report by the U.N. Monitoring Group for Somalia and Eritrea charged that the Obama administration has expanded its secret war in Somalia in such a way that could violate the arms embargo.

“A large part of the assistance provided to the Somali security forces involved in counter-insurgency and anti-terrorism operations at the federal and regional levels has not been reported. According to multiple diplomatic and military sources, the Governments of the United States and the United Kingdom are increasingly involved in directly supporting intelligence services in ‘Somaliland’, ‘Puntland’ and Mogadishu, at times in violation of resolutions 733 (1992) and 1425 (2002),” the report states.

“From August 2012 to March 2013, the Monitoring Group identified 84 civilian flights operated to Mogadishu and ‘Puntland’ by the United States-based air companies Prescott Support Co. and RAM Air Services, which are connected to United States support to ‘Puntland’ and Mogadishu intelligence services, 54 in comparison to 65 flights counted in the same period of the previous mandate of the Monitoring Group, indicating an increase in United States support.”

Al-Shabaab claimed in July that it killed a veteran CIA official-turned-contractor who oversaw the agency’s September 2001 plunge into Afghanistan as well as another CIA operative as U.S. officials accompanied an African Union convoy from the airport in Mogadishu. The U.S. government didn’t respond to the public claims.

Soon after that claim, though, Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter became the highest-ranking Pentagon official to ever visit Uganda to meet with “senior government and military leaders to affirm the growing security partnership between the United States and Uganda,” the other country that Al-Shabaab claimed was working with the U.S. on the suicide-bombed Mogadishu mission.

Carter “met with U.S. personnel supporting the Ugandan military’s effort to remove leaders of the LRA from the battlefield and a separate contingent of U.S. forces providing specialized counterterrorism training to Ugandan forces who will deploy as part of the African Union Mission in Somalia.”

U.S. Special Forces waged a helicopter raid in southern Somalia in 2009 to kill al-Qaeda-linked Saleh Ali Nabhan, wanted in the 2002 bombing of a resort in Kenya and linked to the 1998 embassy bombings.

That raid also took place near Barawe. At least four helicopters swooped in from a nearby U.S. vessel, fired at and struck Nabhan’s vehicle, and then one of the helicopters landed to grab the four bodies.

“We must not make the same mistake with Al-Shabaab that we did with al-Qaeda and that is viewing it as only a local or regional threat,” Don Borelli, COO of The Soufan Group and a 25-year FBI veteran, told the House Foreign Affairs Committee last week. “In the early 1990s, many smart people ignored al-Qaeda because it was seen as a group only focused on the Middle East and Central Asia. We have seen how a terrorist organization gone unchecked can morph into a global threat. We must not let that happen with Al-Shabaab.”

*****

What books does Bridget Johnson recommend for 2013? Click here to see her picks at the Freedom Academy Book Club. 

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Bridget Johnson is a veteran journalist whose news articles and opinion columns have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe. Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor at The Hill, where she wrote The World from The Hill column on foreign policy. Previously she was an opinion writer and editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. She is an NPR contributor and has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, National Review Online, Politico and more, and has myriad television and radio credits as a commentator. Bridget is Washington Editor for PJ Media.

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Top Rated Comments   
I'm very pleased the guys up front got the h... outta there. If you want to go after those mfs do it. Otherwise STFO. If you need surgery, go to a trained surgeon. The "message" we just sent is already known, Half Brother Barry is a damned fool.

So exacltly what would have happened to any one " captured " ? They'd get their rights read and the full constitutional protections I supposedly have. Every Seal knows it. Good Work Men. Live To Fight Another Day, when what you fight for matters. Not the whim of the ultimate REMF.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
personally, whack job that i am, believe there was no reason to put the seal assets on the ground in somalia

i am the most hawkish person around yet when our country employs the current self-defeating rules of engagement i morph into some kind of isolationist

somalia still needs the payback it deserved after the disaster in mogadishu
and until we are willing to go in and "break lots of stuff and get real nasty" then there is no reason to insert the seals

call me old fashioned but i still believe fear is the only deterrent the real bad guys respect and until we strike fear in our enemies any other action is out of place
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
Look, as tough and skilled as they are, SEALs are not supposed to become decisively engaged. They're not line infantry. They're way too skilled to use that way and way too light to stand and fight for long, especially without air and artillery cover...which I'm sure we didn't have in Somalia as they are likely outlawed by our ROE, the UN, and Susan Sarandon.

My question is not, why did they pull out? But rather, what on earth are we doing wasting SEALs in Somalia? That's like using a Rolls Royce to get a pack of smokes at the 7-11. And doesn't The One just love, love, love using drones to whack terrorists (along with the occasional defenseless woman and child, termed "collateral damage")? We got scads of 'em in Djibouti....why didn't we just use them instead? Obama might have gotten an American citizen too.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (33)
All Comments   (33)
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my buddy's half-sister makes $60/hr on the laptop. She has been unemployed for nine months but last month her income was $17092 just working on the laptop for a few hours. moved here------> WWW.Rush64.COM
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
Countries sometimes go through periods of collective national madness . These are usually as a result of LEFT WING Cults of Personality. For example Soviet Russia had Communist Stalin, Germany had the extreme left winger Hitler, Italy with Mussolini and Spain with Franco and China had Communist Mao. Now its America's turn with the CULT of OBAMANISM which is just as left wing and just as ugly and irrational as all the others.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
No OBAMACARE TAXATION without NEGOTIATION

Its the Law of the Land the Democraps bleat but then so was SLAVERY, PROHIBITION and no votes for WOMEN. Want to defend that too DEMOCRAPS?
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
I used to think all those scare stories of the 'Internal Military Force' with its stockpile of arms and ammunition and Detention Facilities were just that scare stories. But the way this corrupt REGIME is operating now I am beginning to wonder if maybe they might be true after all.
Adolph did not believe in negotiating either. The actions of the Unqualified, Incompetent USURPER and his corrupt REGIME both in the ways they disrupt Americans lives and the disgusting propaganda LIES they spew are becoming more NAZI like every day.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
Still at least there's the comfort of knowing that any captured terrorist will not suffer the indignity of harsh CIA interrogation techniques and will be read their Miranda Rights, be provided with FREE Legal defense and Internet access from their cells and allowed to interact with their Muslim buddies and be prosecuted in CIVILIAN courts. They are after all only 'man caused disasters' or is that 'work place violence' perpetrators. Sarc off.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
What this shows is that this is not "Mission Impossible."

There are a lot of factors that simply cannot be foreseen. Or as Clausewitz (almost) said; the enemy gets a vote.

Sh!t happens and there are a lot of Rumsfeld's "unknown unknowns" that affect the outcome.

This doesn't say anything about the skill and professionalism of the SEALS, or the judgement of their superiors.

Some days you get the bear; some days the bear gets you.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
"They reportedly could see their man, Ikrima, through the window of one of the buildings, but as more fighters descended on their position and children intermingled through the crowds, they could do nothing to reach him."

"Nothing?" Really? And why is that? Were the missiles turned off because of the Shutdown? Did the helicopter guns jam?

I am becoming more and more isolationist as time goes by.

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/a-lone-somali-terrorist-foiled-seal-raid-in-somalia-2013-10#ixzz2hB3bcIie
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
I think I speak for the majority of Americans when I say I will NEVER support a "war" which has primary objectives of gathering yet MORE obviously worthless "intelligence," or avoiding civilian casualties, or paying even an ounce of attention to the political sensibilities of governments that either cannot or will not deal with the terrorists in their midst.

You get a houseful of terrorists shooting back like that, it is time to get the Daisy Cutters out.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
Moab.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
Why do I get the feeling that this raid was a spur of the moment thing. Ordered up by Obozo to take the spotlight off his other failings. Since it was a failure, his allies in the media have made it disappear.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
If we can capture these people then all well and good, but the moment that the decision to withdraw was made, the B-1 they had loitering should have gone in and put 40,000lbs of ordnance on the area and killed every living thing within a quarter mile of the house. What's that? They didn't have anything overhead to kill the bad guys, so they got away to gloat another day? Splendid. It was Clintonian pusillanimity that caused Black Hawk Down and if this had ended in a debacle it would have been Obama's fault. Personally I'd cheerfully turn Somalia into a radioactive charnel house, but apparently burning out nests of pirates and Islamic brigands is too old hat.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
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