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Somalia Watch: United States Launching New Attacks Against Al Qaeda in Somalia

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AP: U.S. launches new attacks in Somalia

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?

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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.

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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.  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

Stay tuned……..

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Previous:

Somalia Watch: United States Attacking Al Qaeda Positions in Somalia

Somalia Watch: Diplomats Call for Urgent Deployment of Peacekeeping Troops in Somalia

Cox & Forkum: Somalian Front

Somalia Watch: Somalia Offers Islamists Amnesty

Somalia Watch: Mogadishu Retaken by Somali Government Troops

Somalia Watch: A Guide to the Latest Front of the War on Terror

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Al Qaeda

Somalia Watch: United States Attacking Al Qaeda Positions in Somalia

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MSNBC: Report: U.S. airstrike targets al-Qaida in Africa

Action reported by helicopter gunship in southern tip of country

A U.S. helicopter gunship conducted a strike against two suspected al-Qaida operatives in southern Somalia, but it was not known whether the mission was successful, CBS News reported on Monday.

The U.S. Air Force helicopter, operated by the Special Operations Command, flew from its base in Djibouti to the southern tip of Somalia, where the al-Qaida suspects were believed to have fled from the capital, Mogadishu, the network reported.

Fox News is reporting 4:25 PM PST the air strikes in Somalia and confirming the air strikes by an AC-130 Gunship.

There are casualties on the ground.

No report of whether the mission was successful.

CBS News: U.S. Strikes Al Qaeda In Somalia

CBS News Learns Strike Was Aimed At Alleged Al Qaeda Members Linked to 1998 Embassy Bombings

A U.S. Air Force gunship has conducted a strike against suspected members of al Qaeda in Somalia, CBS News national security correspondent David Martin reports exclusively.

The targets included the senior al Qaeda leader in East Africa and an al Qaeda operative wanted for his involvement in the 1998 bombings of two American embassies in Africa, Martin reports. Those terror attacks killed more than 200 people.

The AC-130 gunship is capable of firing thousands of rounds per second, and sources say a lot of bodies were seen on the ground after the strike, but there is as yet, no confirmation of the identities.

The gunship flew from its base in Dijibouti down to the southern tip of Somalia, Martin reports, where the al Qaeda operatives had fled after being chased out of the capital of Mogadishu by Ethiopian troops backed by the United States.

Once they started moving, the al Qaeda operatives became easier to track, and the U.S. military started preparing for an air strike, using unmanned aerial drones to keep them under surveillance and moving the aircraft carrier Eisenhower out of the Persian Gulf toward Somalia. But when the order was given, the mission was assigned to the AC-130 gunship operated by the U.S. Special Operations command.

If the attack got the operatives it was aimed at, reports Martin, it would deal a major blow to al Qaeda in East Africa.

CNN: U.S. targets al Qaeda suspects in Somalia, Pentagon official says

A U.S. gunship has attacked suspected al Qaeda targets in southern Somalia, a senior Pentagon official said Monday.

The AC-130 flew its mission within the last 24 hours, the official told CNN. The operation was launched based on intelligence that al Qaeda operatives were in the location, but there was no immediate indication of how successful the strike had been.

Additionally, the official said, the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower has moved within striking distance of Somalia, but its jets have not been put to use.

Three al Qaeda operatives accused in the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania have been hiding in Somalia for years. The US believes they were closely tied to the Somali Islamic group – the ICU.

“We had seen intelligence evidence these three Al Qaeda operative were very much influencing the leadership of the council of the ICU — for example providing logistics, fuel and arms to the militias,” said Jendayi Frazer, assistant secretary of state for African affairs

U.S. officials in East Africa said earlier this week that al Qaeda operatives were developing the ability to attack U.S. targets just as they did when the embassy bombings killed hundreds.

Intelligence shows Al Qaeda stepped up its operations in Somalia in June after an Islamic militia took power.

Mudville Gazette has Nowhere to Run?:

Read it all…….

Stay tuned…….

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Previous:

Somalia Watch: Diplomats Call for Urgent Deployment of Peacekeeping Troops in Somalia

Cox & Forkum: Somalian Front

Somalia Watch: Somalia Offers Islamists Amnesty

Somalia Watch: Mogadishu Retaken by Somali Government Troops

Somalia Watch: A Guide to the Latest Front of the War on Terror

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