U.S. Special Forces soldiers killed a top Al Qaeda lieutenant in Somalia on Monday. The AQ leader was Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan who was behind the 2002 bombing of an Israeli hotel in Kenya, an unsuccessful attempt to shoot down a commercial airliner in Kenya with surface to air missiles, and is suspected to have involvement in the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Africa. According to reports a team of special forces soldiers in four military helicopters assaulted two vehicles, one of which carried Nabhan, in broad daylight while Nabhan was trying to move from one location to another. The military decided to launch the attack when it did because Nabhan was not in the vicinity of civilians at the time.
This story is evidence of two things. First, that Somalia is becoming increasingly more prevalent in the War on Terror. Maybe it has been prevalent for a long time and it is just now coming to light, but the recent struggles for power over the country and now the killing of a major AQ figure in the country leads me to believe that AQ and its affiliates see an advantage in trying to operate out of Somalia. Second, it seems that the U.S. is also starting to focus on Somalia and maybe attempt to preempt terrorists from grabbing a real foothold in the country. This is a pretty brazen attack given that it is in broad daylight and right in the middle of a sovereign nation. Granted Somalia in its current state is barely a nation, you won't see U.S. military helicopters carrying special forces soldiers fly into the middle of London or Paris to take out a terrorist, but it seems to be a strong sign that we are stepping up our efforts to disrupt AQ in areas other than Pakistan and Afghanistan. I hope that we continue to focus some resources on Somalia because it will pay dividends towards stabilizing that country and making it harder for terrorists to operate there.