Somalia: Nabhan, notorius Kenyan born al-Qaeda terrorist killed

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The suspect of the 2002 attacks of an Israeli airliner in Kenyan has been killed in a U.S military operation in South Somalia. Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan, a top al-Qaeda suspect who has been on FBIs hit list since 2002 is believed to be amongst those dead after a US raid on Islamist militants in southern Somalia in the early hours of Monday.

The US soldiers were reported to have taken two men away, and two bodies were left in the road after the attack in the southern coastal town of Barawe. Reuters news agency cited a US official as saying Special Forces had flown by helicopter from a US navy ship and fired on a vehicle that they believed was carrying Nabhan. BBC news cited a US official as saying the operation was successful, and Nabhan was dead.

There had been confusion over which country carried out the attacks as earlier reports claimed that US troops wore uniforms with French emblems on them, while they carried out the attack on truck-full of al-Shabab Islamists. But the troop identity was clear after a French military spokesman denied his country’s forces were involved. The US and France have troops stationed in neighboring Djibouti, and have carried out air strikes against Somali Islamist groups accused of links to al-Qaeda.

Nabhan, born in Kenya, according to The National Counter Terrorism Center in the US, is suspected of bombing of an Israeli-owned hotel in Kenya and a failed attempt to shoot down an Israeli airliner in 2002. He is also linked to two attacks on US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in which more than 250 died, in 1998. However his death has not been officially confirmed by Washington. According to ABC News, an internal US government report describes Nabhan as a top al-Qaeda officer in east Africa, who ran training camps in Somalia for foreign fighters.

In 2006, Somalia experienced a rise of Islamists who gained control of much of the south, including the capital, and their insurgency has thwarted the efforts towards peace and stability made by the international community. As much as it seemed to be a successful strike against terrorism, the attack was also evidence to Somalia’s prolonged existence as a refuge for Islamist militants. Somalia has not had a functioning government since 1991, and conditions haven’t exactly changed since then.

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