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Terrorism & Security

After deadly US raid, Somalia radicals calls for backup

The Al Shabab movement sought foreign reinforcement two days after the US killed a fighter believed to have forged ties with Al Qaeda.

By Jonathan Adams / September 16, 2009



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Somalia's radical Al Shabab movement called for "reinforcements" from abroad Wednesday, two days after a US commando raid killed six of its fighters, including a top Al Qaeda-linked terror suspect.

The call came as more details on the raid emerged from US sources, even as the US government has declined to publicly confirm the attack.

Those sources describe a patient wait to launch a targeted, lightning strike against Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan, in order to avoid civilian casualties. And one says there's a sense of a "job well done" among US officials after the successful operation.

Mr. Nabhan was wanted by the US and Kenyan governments for his alleged involvement in the 1998 bombings of US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania that killed 250, and the 2002 bombing of an Israeli-owned hotel that killed 15.

Reuters reported the appeal for foreign help by a top commander of Al Shabab, a radical insurgent group that now controls perhaps a third of Somalia's war-torn territory.

The Los Angeles Times quoted anonymous US officials saying that both Americans and Somalians were "better off" without Nabhan, and that the strike was specifically planned to avoid civilian deaths.

Officials told the Times that Ali Nabhan had a "low key" role in Al Shabab, but was thought to have been instrumental in forging closer ties between the group and Al Qaeda. The attack could actually strengthen those ties, by pushing the group to go global.

Some also worried about reprisal attacks on Westerners in Somalia, including two journalists and a French military adviser now being held hostage.

The Associated Press also noted concerns about reprisal attacks against Western targets, but said officials and observers were satisfied to have finally "taken out" a man who's been on the FBI list of "most wanted" terrorists since that list was created.

The AP also quoted an anonymous senior Al Shabab commander vowing revenge: "They will taste the bitterness of our response."

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