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Rediff.com  » News »  US commandos raid hideouts in Africa, nab top Qaeda leader

US commandos raid hideouts in Africa, nab top Qaeda leader

Last updated on: October 06, 2013 15:25 IST

In daring raids, US commandos have captured a fugitive al-Qaeda leader from the streets of Libya and raided the seaside villa of an al-Shabaab militant in Somalia, signalling America's determination to pursue dreaded terrorists abroad.

In a US special forces operation in the Libyan capital of Tripoli, Nazih Abdul-Hamed al-Ruqai, known by his alias Anas al-Libi, was nabbed.

The FBI had offered USD 5 million for his capture and he is under indictment in New York for his role in the 1998 bombings of the US embassies in Africa.

Describing Libi, as a bigger prize catch, the officials confirmed he was alive and in US custody.

"As the result of a US counter-terrorism operation, Abu Anas al-Libi is currently lawfully detained by the US military in a secure location outside of Libya," Little said.

In a separate raid in Somalia, US Navy SEALs carried out a pre-dawn strike against al-Shabaab and Al Qaeda terrorists in Somalia.

Confirming the covert operation, a senior US official said it was aimed towards capturing a high value al-Shabaab terrorist leader allegedly involved in the Westgate Mall attack in Kenya that killed nearly 70 people, including Indians.

Although the Shebab leader was believed to have been killed during the assault, the SEALs had to withdraw before they could confirm the kill, a senior US official was quoted as saying by the New York Times.

After a fierce firefight, the Navy SEAL team aborted the mission to capture the terror suspect.

Al-Shabaab, an al-Qaeda linked Somali outfit, had claimed responsibility for the Kenya massacre last month.

"I can confirm that yesterday, October 4, US military personnel were involved in a counter terrorism operation against a known al-Shabaab terrorist. We are not prepared to provide additional detail at this time," Pentagon Press Secretary George Little, said.

A US official said no US personnel were injured or killed in the attack. "US personnel took all necessary precautions to avoid civilian casualties in this operation and disengaged after inflicting some al-Shabaab casualties. We are not in a position to identify those casualties," the official said.

"It was not immediately known if the two operations were coordinated or even related: While al-Shabaab is affiliated with Al Qaeda, it is not known that al-Libi had any connection with that group or was linked to last month's deadly attack on Nairobi's Westgate Mall," the CNN reported.

Meanwhile, US Secretary of State John Kerry, who is attending an APEC summit in Bali, said, "We hope that this makes clear that the USA will never stop in the effort to hold those accountable who conduct acts of terror."

"Members of al-Qaeda and other terrorist organisations literally can run but they can't hide," he said.

Kerry vowed the US would "continue to try to bring people to justice in an appropriate way with hopes that ultimately these kinds of activities against everybody in the world will stop.

Image: Senior al Qaeda figure Anas al-Liby in an undated FBI handout photo.

Photograph: Reuters

Lalit K Jha in Washington
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