Obama Authorized U.S. Participation in Botched French Somalia Mission
President Obama informed Congress Sunday evening that U.S. forces were present in Somalia on Friday for a French raid to rescue a hostage from al-Shabaab.
The attempt to rescue the intelligence officer who had been held by the terrorist group for three years went very wrong, though.
One French commando was killed in the operation and another is missing. Al-Shabaab claimed that the commando is now their hostage.
And French army consultant Denis Allex, the pseudonym for the intelligence officer, is presumed dead.
"Extremely violent fights took place, during which everything leads us to think that Mr. Allex was shot dead by his kidnappers," France's Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told reporters at a news conference Saturday. Al-Shabaab claimed Allex is still alive and in their hands.
Obama sent his notice in accordance with the War Powers Resolution to House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Senate President Pro Tempore Pat Leahy (D-Vt.) today.
"United States forces provided limited technical support to the French forces in that operation, but took no direct part in the assault on the compound where it was believed the French citizen was being held hostage," Obama wrote.
"United States combat aircraft briefly entered Somali airspace to support the rescue operation, if needed. These aircraft did not employ weapons during the operation. The U.S. forces that supported this operation left Somalia by approximately 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on January 11, 2013."
Obama continued that he "directed U.S. forces to support this rescue operation in furtherance of U.S. national security interests, and pursuant to my constitutional authority to conduct U.S. foreign relations and as Commander in Chief and Chief Executive."
Per the War Powers Resolution, Obama has 48 hours to notify Congress that he committed troops to military action.
The president of Somalia 's federal government, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, left Mogadishu today on his first visit to Washington, an attempt to "to boost cooperation on security, humanitarian, and development matters" with the U.S.
French President Francois Hollande raised his country's domestic terror threat level Saturday because of the Somalia incident and France's aid of the Mali government against al-Qaeda.