Speaking at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Bali, Secretary said the raid that captured al Qaeda senior official Anas al Libi on Sunday was an attack against a “legal and appropriate target” who had been wanted by the U.S. for 15 years. According to the Pentagon, al Libi is believed to have planned the attacks on U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998.
Kerry also defended a second raid on the same day in Somalia against the terrorist organization al-Shabaab, the al Qaeda affiliate responsible for the recent attack on the Westgate mall in Kenya. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel issued a statement on the raids as wlll, saying they illustrated America’s determination to find and punish terrorists worldwide. “These operations in Libya and Somalia send a strong message to the world that the United States will spare no effort to hold terrorists accountable, no matter where they hide or how long they evade justice,” said Hagel.
The comments come in the wake of Libya’s Prime Minister Ali Zeidan demanding answers on a military operation being conducted on Libyan soil against a Libyan citizen, as the raid was conducted in Tripoli.
“The Libyan government is following the news of the kidnapping of a Libyan citizen who is wanted by U.S. authorities,” the Prime Minister wrote in his official statement. “The Libyan government has contacted to U.S. authorities to ask them to provide an explanation.”
The raid opens Ali Zeidan, who is supported by the west, to allegations of complicity in the raid. Since the revolution that ousted Libya’s dictator Muammar Khadafi in 2011, Islamist militias have claimed some power in the country, and Zeidan likely fears a backlash from Libyans who sympathize with al-Libi.
In his speech, however, Kerry expressed his full support for the both raids, saying “I hope the perception is in the world that people who commit acts of terror and who have been appropriately indicted by courts of law, by the legal process, will know that United States of America is going to do anything in its power that is legal and appropriate in order to enforce the law and to protect our security.”
On the same day Delta Force snatched al-Libi from Tripoli, members of another special forces group, SEAL Team Six, carried out the raid in Somalia. SEAL Team Six is the same elite force the assassinated Osama bin Laden.
The Somalia raid, however, was apparently less effective than the one in Libya. The Pentagon was releasing no details on any results from the engagement in Somalia, while it acknowledged that al-Libi is in military custody, and being held in a “secure location outside of Libya.” Al-Shabaab claimed that there were no senior officials at the location of the Somalia attack, and that their fighters had been able to drive off the Navy SEALS in a fire-fight. The US target is believed to have been Ikrima, a commander who had links to al-Qaeda operatives involved in terrorist strikes on targets in Nairobi and Mombasa.
In the speech where he defended the Libya and Somalia raids, Kerry also said, “”We will continue to try to bring people to justice in an appropriate way, with hopes ultimately these kinds of activities against everybody in the world will stop.”
Written By: Jeremy Forbing