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2008 photo of al-Shabab fighters just outside Mogadishu near the same southern Somalia village where U.S. Navy SEALS four years ago killed a most-wanted al-Qaida operative.

Farah Abdi Warsameh, Associated Press

Raid target sought in Somalia had planned Al-Qaida-sanctioned attacks, papers say.

  • Article by: JASON STRAZIUSO and ROBERT BURNS
  • Associated Press
  • October 8, 2013 - 4:13 AM

 

– The man whom U.S. Navy SEALs tried to take down in Somalia over the weekend was a Kenyan who had plotted to attack his country’s parliament building and the United Nations headquarters in Nairobi, according to a Kenyan government intelligence report.

The pre-dawn, seaside SEAL raid on Saturday targeted Abdulkadir Mohamed Abdulkadir, who is also known as Ikrima, a U.S. official said. The U.S. troops are not believed to have captured or killed their target. The official insisted on anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to release the information

In the internal report by Kenya’s National Intelligence Service, Abdulkadir is listed as the lead planner of a plot sanctioned by Al-Qaida’s core leadership in Pakistan to carry out attacks in Kenya in late 2011 and early 2012. It had been previously reported that those attacks, linked to the Somali Islamic extremist group Al-Shabab, were disrupted.

The report, which was leaked to the news media in the wake of the Sept. 21 terror attack on Nairobi’s Westgate Mall that killed more than 60 people, lists Samantha Lewthwaite — a Briton known in British media as the “White Widow” — as one of several “key actors” in the plot to attack Parliament buildings, the U.N. office in Nairobi, Kenyan Defense Forces camps and other targets. The plotters also intended to assassinate top Kenyan political and security officials, the report said.

Police disrupted that plot. Lewthwaite, who was married to one of the suicide bombers in the 2005 attack on London’s transit system, escaped capture when she produced a fraudulently obtained South African passport in another person’s name. Late last month, Interpol, acting on a request from Kenya, issued an arrest notice for Lewthwaite.

The National Intelligence Service report, in an entry dated exactly one year before the Sept. 21 mall attack, said Al-Shabab operatives were in Nairobi “and are planning to mount suicide attacks on undisclosed date, targeting Westgate Mall and Holy Family Basilica.” Two suspects were believed in possession of suicide vests, grenades and AK-47 assault rifles, the report said.

The report also warned of “Mumbai-style attacks,” referring to the assaults in Mumbai, India, in 2008 in which operatives stormed several locations with guns and grenades.

The report makes no mention of Abdulkadir in relation to the attack on Westgate Mall.

The men who attacked the mall last month and held off besieging Kenyan troops for several days were armed with grenades and AK-47s, but apparently had no suicide vests. It was unclear whether one planned attack on the mall was foiled and then carried out again or if it was merely postponed for a year by Al-Shabab, which claimed responsibility for the carnage.

The internal document shows that Kenyan intelligence officers have detailed information about plots and individuals tasked with carrying them out, and that the spy handlers face a continuous threat. Other targeted sites included the Hilton Hotel, the Yaya shopping mall, the office of the prime minister, and possibly the embassies of the United States — which was blown up by Al-Qaida in 1998 — and of Britain and Israel.

The SEAL raid in Somalia was one of two anti-terror missions by U.S. forces in Africa over the weekend. In Libya on Saturday, the U.S. Army’s Delta Force captured Nazih Abdul-Hamed al-Ruqai, known by his alias Anas al-Libi, an Al-Qaida leader linked to the 1998 American Embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania.

That raid prompted a warning Monday from a group of Libyan Islamic extremists who vowed to avenge Libi’s capture.

© 2014 Star Tribune