U.S. Airstrike on Somalia

 ABC and several other media outlets are reporting that a U.S. airstrike has killed Saleh Ali Nabhan, a senior al Qaeda leader accused to have been behind the 1998 bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi. If the reports are true, it would be the first reported time since the new administration came to office ...

By , International Crisis Group’s senior analyst for Colombia.
580982_090914_pro_nabhan_mm2.jpg
580982_090914_pro_nabhan_mm2.jpg

 ABC and several other media outlets are reporting that a U.S. airstrike has killed Saleh Ali Nabhan, a senior al Qaeda leader accused to have been behind the 1998 bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi.

If the reports are true, it would be the first reported time since the new administration came to office that airstrikes have been used in the country. The Bush administration targeted several alleged terrorists during his two terms, most notably prior to and during an Ethiopian occupation of Somalia in early 2007. In fact, Nabhan was among those initially reported to have been targeted in that assault, two years ago.

The strike was said to have been executed by U.S. Special Forces. It took place in the town of Barawe, a coastal city just south of the capital, Mogadishu. Barawe is said to be in the control of Islamist insurgents al-Shabab, a group also alleged to have al Qaeda ties.

 ABC and several other media outlets are reporting that a U.S. airstrike has killed Saleh Ali Nabhan, a senior al Qaeda leader accused to have been behind the 1998 bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi.

If the reports are true, it would be the first reported time since the new administration came to office that airstrikes have been used in the country. The Bush administration targeted several alleged terrorists during his two terms, most notably prior to and during an Ethiopian occupation of Somalia in early 2007. In fact, Nabhan was among those initially reported to have been targeted in that assault, two years ago.

The strike was said to have been executed by U.S. Special Forces. It took place in the town of Barawe, a coastal city just south of the capital, Mogadishu. Barawe is said to be in the control of Islamist insurgents al-Shabab, a group also alleged to have al Qaeda ties.

And again, if reports are true, this is indeed an interesting development for U.S. policy in Somalia. As I reported last week, the State Department has staunchly backed the Transitional Federal Government there — to the extent of sending weapons and cash to stave off their collapse to the Shabab and other militias. This strike would seem to be a continuation of that support, as well as a reminder to the Somali government that fighting terror in the country is a top U.S. priority. Finally, it could help the administration look “tough” on terror — a issue that it cannot afford to lose political capital on amid a plethora of domestic debates.

Elizabeth Dickinson is International Crisis Group’s senior analyst for Colombia.

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