Libya, Somalia raids show U.S. reach, problems


* Libyan wanted for 1998 embassy bombings seized in Tripoli

* Libyan prime minister seeks explanation for "kidnapping"

* Somali port raid on al Shabaab fails to take target

* Kerry: "Terrorist organisations can run but they can'thide"

By Ghaith Shennib and Abdi Sheikh

TRIPOLI/MOGADISHU, Oct 6 (Reuters) - Two U.S. raids inAfrica show the United States is pressuring al Qaeda, officialssaid on Sunday, though a failure in Somalia and an angryresponse in Libya also highlighted Washington's woes.

In Tripoli, U.S. forces snatched a Libyan wanted over thebombings of the American embassy in Nairobi 15 years ago andwhisked him out of the country, prompting Secretary of StateJohn Kerry to say that al Qaeda leaders "can run but they can'thide."

But the capture of Nazih al-Ragye, better known as Abu Anasal-Liby, also provoked a complaint about the "kidnap" from theWestern-backed Libyan prime minister, who faces a backlash fromarmed Islamists who have carved out a share of power since theWest helped Libyan rebels oust Muammar Gaddafi two years ago.

In Somalia, Navy SEALS stormed ashore into the al Shabaabstronghold of Barawe but, a U.S. official said, they failed tocapture or kill the target among the Somali allies of al Qaeda.

U.S. officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, toldReuters the target was a Kenyan of Somali origin known asIkrima, described as a foreign fighter commander for al Shabaabin Somalia.

Ikrima, whose real name is Abdikadar Mohamed Abdikadar, waslinked with now-dead al Qaeda operatives Harun Fazul and SalehNabhan, who had roles in the 1998 embassy bombing in Nairobi andin the 2002 attacks on a hotel and airline in Mombasa, U.S.officials said.

One official said the U.S. operation in Somalia was not indirect response to last month's al Shabaab attack on theWestgate mall in Nairobi that killed at least 67. It was notknown if Ikrima was connected to that attack, the official said.

Kerry, on a visit to Indonesia, said President BarackObama's administration was "pleased with the results" of thecombined assaults early on Saturday. "We hope this makes clearthat the United States of America will never stop in its effortto hold those accountable who conduct acts of terror," he said.

Two years after Navy SEALS tracked down and killed al Qaedafounder Osama bin Laden in Pakistan, a decade after al Qaeda'sSept. 11 attacks on the United States in 2001, the twinoperation demonstrated the reach of U.S. military forces inAfrica, where Islamist militancy has been growing.

The forays also spotlighted Somalia's status as a fragmentedhaven for al Qaeda allies more than 20 years after Washingtonintervened in vain in its civil war and Libya's descent into ananarchic battleground.

Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel said they showed Washingtonwould "spare no effort to hold terrorists accountable."


Clearly aware of the risks to his government of complicityin the snatching of Liby, Prime Minister Ali Zeidan said: "TheLibyan government is following the news of the kidnapping of aLibyan citizen who is wanted by U.S. authorities.

"The Libyan government has contacted U.S. authorities to askthem to provide an explanation."

Kerry declined to say whether his government had told Libyaof the raid to capture Al-Liby, whom he called a "legal andappropriate target" for the U.S. military.

Another U.S. official told Reuters on condition of anonymitythat the Libyan government had been notified of the operation,but did not say when.

"The United States of America is going to do everything inits power that is legal and appropriate in order to enforce thelaw and protect our security," Kerry said, when asked whatperception was left when the U.S. military snatched people offthe streets of foreign countries.

He added: "He will now have an opportunity to defend himselfand to be appropriately brought to justice in a court of law."

Liby is a suspect in the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassiesin Kenya and Tanzania that killed 224 civilians.

His whereabouts were unclear on Sunday, but in similar prior cases, the United States has held detainees aboard ship. U.S.Navy vessels in the Mediterranean, as well as bases in Italy andGermany, would be just a short flight away.

Liby's son, Abdullah al Ragye, 19, told reporters at thefamily home that men had pulled up in four cars, drugged hisfather, dragged him from his vehicle and driven off with him.

"They had a Libyan look and Libyan accents," he said. It wasnot clear if the men were linked to the Libyan state, which mayeither have sought to keep its distance or been sidelined byWashington for fear of leaks.

The U.S. raid would show Libya was no refuge for"international terrorists", said Abdul Bassit Haroun, a formerIslamist militia commander who works with the Libyan government.

Islamist militants, like those blamed for the deadly attackon the U.S. consulate in Benghazi a year ago, would hit backviolently, he warned. "This won't just pass," Haroun said.

"There will be a strong reaction in order to take revengebecause this is one of the most important al Qaeda figures."


Somalia's Western-backed government said it did cooperatewith Washington, though its control of much of the country,including the port of Barawe, 180 km (110 miles) south of thecapital, Mogadishu, is limited by powerful armed groups.

"We have collaboration with the world and with neighbouringcountries in the battle against al Shabaab," Prime Minister AbdiFarah Shirdon said when asked of Somalia's role in the raid.

Somali police said seven people were killed in Barawe. U.S.officials said their forces took no casualties but broke off thefighting to avoid harming civilians.

A Somali intelligence official said a Chechen commander, whomight have been the Americans' target, was wounded.

In Somalia, al Shabaab spokesman Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Musabtold Reuters no senior figure was present when the Americanscame ashore. "Ordinary fighters lived in the house and theybravely counterattacked and chased off the attackers," he said.

From Nigeria in the west, through Mali, Algeria and Libya toSomalia and Kenya in the east, Africa has seen major attacks onits own people and on Western economic interests, including anAlgerian desert gas plant in January and the Nairobi mall aswell as the killing of the U.S. ambassador in Libya a year ago.

Western intelligence experts say there are growing linksamong Islamist militants across North Africa, who share alQaeda's goal of a strict Islamic state and the expulsion ofWestern interests from Muslim lands.

Liby, said to have fled Gaddafi's police state to join binLaden in Sudan in the 1990s before getting political asylum inBritain, may have been part of that bid to form an operationalbase, analysts say.

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