The US government's foreign policy appears to be most effective when it is shut down. First, we learned that the CIA has accelerated its training and weapons supply of Syria's Al-Qaeda insurgents only after the funding for the non-critical government functions was halted. Then, overnight, John Kerry showed that while he gives to Al-Qaeda with one hand he takes from it with two following two U.S. raids in Libya and Somalia that captured an Islamist wanted for bombing its Nairobi embassy 15 years ago. These actions "show Washington's determination to hunt down al Qaeda leaders around the globe" Secretary of State John Kerry said on Sunday. So in 15 years the then secretary of state will be proud to announce that Al-Qaeda leaders operating in and around Syria, armed with US weapons, have also been captured. And so the wheel will keep on turning.
Reuters has more on the overnight raids:
Libyan Nazih al-Ragye, better known by the cover name Abu Anas al-Liby, was seized by U.S. forces in Tripoli on Saturday, the Pentagon said. A seaborne raid on the Somali port of Barawe, a stronghold of the al Shabaab movement behind last month's attack on a Kenyan mall, failed to take or kill its target.
"We hope this makes clear that the United States of America will never stop in its effort to hold those accountable who conduct acts of terror," Kerry said during a visit to Bali.
"Those members of al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations literally can run but they can't hide," Kerry said. "We will continue to try to bring people to justice."
The twin raids, two years after a U.S. Navy SEAL team killed al Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden in Pakistan, demonstrated American reach at a time when Islamist militants have been expanding their presence in Africa - not least in Libya following the Western-backed overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi. Libya's government, wary of an Islamist backlash, demanded an explanation for the "kidnapping" of one of its citizens.
Don't hold your breath: the person responsible for providing explanations for US actions abroad is currently on furlough.
What is the important of Liby?
Liby, who the FBI says is 49, has been under U.S. indictment since 2000 for his alleged role in bombing the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998, which killed 224 people. Of more pressing concern for Washington, however, may have been that al Qaeda appears to be establishing itself in Libya today.
With President Barack Obama wrestling with the legal and political difficulties posed by trying al Qaeda suspects held at the U.S. base at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, Liby may be more likely to face trial in New York, where the indictment was filed.
Liby, who had once been granted political asylum from Gaddafi in Britain, was charged with 20 other people including bin Laden and current al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri. The U.S. government offered a $5 million reward for helping capture Liby.
Charges relating to him personally accuse him of discussing the bombing of the Nairobi embassy in retaliation for the U.S. intervention in the Somali civil war in 1992-93 and of helping reconnoiter and plan the attack in the years before 1998.
As for Somalia, where fighting erupted at about 3 am on Saturday morning, things did not go quite as planned.
The target of the Somali operation was unclear but a U.S. official was quoted as saying it was planned in response to the Nairobi mall attack two weeks ago in which at least 67 were killed. That highlighted the risk of Somalia's rumbling civil conflict destabilizing a resource-rich continent where Islamists have been on the rise from west to east in recent years.
Launched in the early hours of Saturday, the Somali raid appears to have featured a beach landing in hostile territory that was followed by an extended firefight. U.S. officials said SEALs conducted the raid and had killed al Qaeda-allied al Shabaab fighters while taking no casualties themselves. Somali police said seven people were killed during the operation.
Somalia's Western-backed government, still trying to establish its authority after two decades of civil war, holds little sway in Barawe, 110 miles south of Mogadishu.
Asked of his involvement in the U.S. operation, Prime Minister Abdi Farah Shirdon said: "We have collaboration with the world and with neighboring countries in the battle against al Shabaab."
The Pentagon confirmed U.S. military personnel had been involved in an operation against what it called "a known al Shabaab terrorist," in Somalia, but gave no more details.
Local people in Barawe and Somali security officials said troops came ashore from the Indian Ocean to attack a house near the shore used by al Shabaab fighters.
U.S. officials said troops, to avoid civilian casualties, disengaged after inflicting casualties on al Shabaab. They said no U.S. personnel were wounded or killed in the operation, which one U.S. source said was carried out by a Navy SEAL team.
A Somali intelligence official said the target of the raid at Barawe, about 110 miles south of Mogadishu, was a Chechen commander, who had been wounded and his guard killed.
One U.S. official, speaking to Reuters on condition of anonymity, said the al Shabaab leader targeted in the operation was neither captured nor killed.
Some of the more cynical persuasion prompted pointed out that the US government now needs a distraction (Al-Qaeda raids), from a distraction (the shutdown government), from a distraction (the botched Syrian "liberation" campaign and providing of weapons to Al-Qaeda), from a distraction (the NSA wholesale spying campaign that has Nixon spinning in his grave), from the ultimately reality: the ongoing collapse of the US economy.
Which only means that piecemeal foreign operations must and will continue to remind Americans of the constant "threat" it lives under, until such time as a false flag provocation finally allows the escalation into an all out war somewhere in the world, and with it leads to the much sought after, deficit-boosting military intervention.