Yesterday's bold raid in Somalia by U.S. Navy SEALs that kiled senior al Qaeda leader Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan was a big victory for those seeking justice in two of East Africa's most deadly terror attacks. SEALs swooped in on helicopters near the southern town of Barawe, shot up Nabhan's car, dismounted from the helos to recover Nabhan's body, and quickly left the scene. This happened in territory controlled by Shabaab, the al Qaeda surrogate in Somalia. Nabhan was also a senior leader in Shabaab who has been a major player in trying to get the two groups to merge.
Nabhan has been one of the most sought after al Qaeda operatives in Africa. He is wanted for involvement in the 1998 suicide attacks against US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. The attack in Nairobi, Kenya, resulted in 212 killed and more than 4,000 wounded. The attack in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, resulted in 11 killed and 85 wounded. Fazul Abdullah Mohammed, al Qaeda's operations chief in East Africa; and Abu Taha al Sudani, the leader of al Qaeda's network in East Africa, were also behind the attacks. Sudani was killed during the fighting to oust the Islamic Courts in early 2007.
Nabhan is also wanted by the FBI for questioning in connection with the 2002 attacks in Mombasa, Kenya, against a hotel and an airliner. In near-simultaneous attacks, Nabhan targeted a hotel frequented by Israelis and an Israeli-chartered airplane. Suicide bombers rammed a truck into the lobby of a hotel popular with Israeli tourists; 13 were killed and 80 wounded. At the same time as the hotel attack, al Qaeda launched two Strela surface-to-air missiles at an Arkia Airlines jet. The missiles missed their targets.
Next on the list is Fazul Abdullah Mohammed, al Qaeda's operations chief in East Africa who also served as a senior intelligence official for the Islamic Courts. Fazul was also involved in the 1998 embassy attacks and other terror plots in East Africa.