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A Somali official says U.S. helicopter gunships have launched new attacks against suspected al-Qaida terrorists. An earlier U.S. airstrike hit targets in southern Somalia where Islamic militants were believed to be sheltering suspects in the 1998 bombings of two U.S. embassies, Somali officials and witnesses said Tuesday. Many people were reported killed.
Monday’s attack was the first overt military action by the U.S. in Somalia since it led a U.N. force in the 1990s that intervened in Somalia in an effort to fight famine. The mission led to clashes between U.N. forces and Somali warlords, including the “Black Hawk Down” battle that left 18 U.S. servicemen dead.
Helicopter gunships launched new attacks Tuesday near the scene of a U.S. airstrike in the village of Hayi, although it was not clear if they were American or Ethiopian aircraft, and it was not known if there were any casualties.
Two helicopters “fired several rockets toward the road that leads to the Kenyan border,” said Ali Seed Yusuf, a resident of the town of Afmadow in southern Somalia.
The aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower arrived off Somalia’s coast and launched intelligence-gathering missions over Somalia, the military said. Three other U.S. warships are conducting anti-terror operations off the Somali coast.
And why are these attacks being launched?
Washington Post: U.S. Strike in Somalia Targets Al-Qaeda Figure
One target of the strike, sources said, was Abu Talha al-Sudani, a Sudanese who is married to a Somali woman and has lived in Somalia since 1993 — the year of the attack against U.S. troops that was chronicled in the book and movie “Black Hawk Down.” In a 2001 U.S. court case against Osama bin Laden, Sudani was described by a leading witness as an explosives expert who was close to the al-Qaeda leader.
More recently, Sudani was identified by U.S. intelligence as a close associate of Gouled Hassan Dourad, head of a Mogadishu-based network that operated in support of al-Qaeda in Somalia. Dourad is one of 14 “high-value” prisoners transferred last September from CIA “black sites” to the U.S. military base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence then disclosed that Dourad “worked for the East African al-Qaeda cell led by . . . al-Sudani” and carried out at least one mission for him, related to a plan to bomb the U.S. military base in Djibouti.
Others have identified Sudani as the financier for Fazul Abdullah Mohammed and Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan, believed responsible for the 1998 bombing of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. All are among the senior al-Qaeda operatives the Bush administration has charged were sheltered by Somalian Islamic fundamentalists controlling Mogadishu, the country’s capital. They are believed to have fled late last month when Ethiopian troops drove the fundamentalists out of the capital and toward the Kenyan border.
A FBI most wanted poster of Fazul Abdullah Mohammed who has been indicted by a U.S. Federal court for his involvement in the 1998 U.S. embassy attacks in Kenya and neighboring Tanzania, displayed on the FBI’s website Friday, March 21, 2003. The target of U.S. air strikes in Somalia is one of the FBI’s most wanted terrorists and the suspected mastermind of two major terrorist attacks in East Africa.Fazul Abdullah Mohammed, a slight, youthful man born in Comoros, has a US$5 million price on his head for allegedly planning the 1998 attacks on the U.S. Embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam.
Fox News is reporting continuing military strikes against targets in Somalia.
BREAKING: Fox News is reporting United States officials are reporting that Abu Talha al-Sudani has been killed. Identification of bodies is pending.
Update: 8:00 AM PST
Fox News is reporting that “several” Al Qaeda members may have been killed.Â There are on-going military operations with Somali, Ethiopian and Americans working jointly to flush out hiding Al Qaeda members.
In the meantime, the reader should be directed to Bill Roggio’s excellent treatise: The Rise & Fall of Somalia’s Islamic Courts: An Online History
Technorati Tags: Somalia, Ethiopia, EritreaAbuTalhaal-Sudani, GouledHassanDourad, FazulAbdullahMohammed, SalehAliSalehNabhan