By Gabe LaMonica
Three Republican senators are accusing the Obama administration of compromising intelligence gathering by holding Abu Anas al Libi on a Navy ship instead of sending him to the U.S. military base at Guantanamo Bay.
During a press conference Tuesday, Republican Sens. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina called the detainment of al Libi on a Navy vessel in the Mediterranean Sea a "huge mistake."
Graham commended the administration's use of "boots on the ground to capture people" as a "good change in policy," but said there are "fatal flaws" in the U.S. intelligence gathering system.
"It's hard to interrogate a dead man," he said, so it's good that the administration is no longer "killing everybody by drones." But the refusal to send al Libi to Gitmo and to hold him instead at sea is "not a proper way to gather intelligence in the war on terror," Graham added.
By Jamie Crawford
Did the United States intelligence community dismiss a warning of an al Qaeda plot to hijack a commercial airliner a year before the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001?
That's the assertion made by Judicial Watch, a conservative, nonpartisan government watchdog group, based on a document it obtained from the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) through the Freedom of Information Act and distributed to media.
In the Intelligence Information Report dated September 27, 2001, the DIA says al Qaeda planned to hijack a plane leaving Frankfurt International Airport sometime between March and August 2000. Advanced warning of that plot "was disregarded because nobody believed that (Osama) bin Laden or the Taliban could carry out such an operation," the report said.
The plot was eventually delayed after one of the participants withdrew from the plot.
By Josh Levs
U.S. raids in pursuit of two terrorists over the weekend threw a question surrounding President Obama into the spotlight: Does he have a guiding doctrine for foreign policy?
The operations in Somalia and Libya, only one of which went as planned, come after the Obama administration silenced its drumbeat toward a possible military attack on Syria.
Some analysts say the developments make Obama's "doctrine" more clear than ever. Others say what's more clear than ever is that this president doesn't have one - which may, or may not, be a good thing.
"The two raids over the weekend show that President Obama remains very comfortable deploying special operations forces in countries the United States is not at war with as a means to combat terrorist groups, just as he is comfortable with the use of CIA drones for the same purpose in countries such as Pakistan and Yemen," says CNN National Security Analyst Peter Bergen.FULL STORY
By Paul Cruickshank and Tim Lister
Editor's note: Paul Cruickshank and Tim Lister are writing a book about Morten Storm and his life as a former informant on terrorist groups.
Kenyan intelligence knows him simply as Ikrima. But his full name is Mohamed Abdikadir Mohamed, and he is regarded as one of the most dangerous commanders in the Somali terror group Al-Shabaab.
U.S. officials say Ikrima was the target of a raid Saturday by U.S. Navy SEALs on an Al-Shabaab compound near the town of Baraawe in Somalia. It's believed that he escaped after the U.S. troops came under heavy fire.
Ikrima is wanted by both the Kenyan government and its Western allies and was a close associate of one of al Qaeda's most important operatives in East Africa. A recent Kenyan intelligence report that was leaked just after the Westgate mall attack in Nairobi outlined several plots in which he was allegedly involved. All of them involved targets in Kenya, and all the attacks would have involved Kenyan citizens trained by Al-Shabaab.
By Barbara Starr
U.S. Navy SEAL Team Six pulled out during a raid to capture suspected Al-Shabaab leader Ikrima when it became clear that he couldn't be taken alive, a senior U.S. official told CNN.
"Their mission was to capture him. Once it became clear we were not going to able to take him, the Navy commander made the decision to withdraw," said the official, who has direct knowledge of the entire Somalia operation but declined to be identified publicly.
The official said the SEALs came under heavy opposition and an intense firefight broke out, leading to the withdrawal.
The mission's aim - to capture Ikrima - is the reason the team was used rather than a lethal drone attack, the official said.
By Barbara Starr, Evan Perez and Greg Botelho, CNN
In two operations in Africa nearly 3,000 miles apart, U.S. military forces went after two high-value targets over the weekend.
One operation took place early Saturday in the Libyan capital of Tripoli, when U.S. forces captured Abu Anas al Libi, an al Qaeda leader wanted for his role in the deadly 1998 bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa.
In the second raid, a team of U.S. Navy SEALs in southern Somalia targeted the top leader of Al-Shabaab, a terrorist group linked with al Qaeda.
By Barbara Starr and Evan Perez
U.S. military forces were involved in two separate operations in Africa - one of them targeting a member of the group Al-Shabaab that was behind last month's Kenya mall attack, and the other going after an al Qaeda leader tied to bombings of two U.S. embassies.
The Al-Shabaab raid took place in Somalia, where that terrorist group is based, sometime in the past 24 hours, a senior U.S. official said Saturday evening.
The team of U.S. Navy SEALs had to withdraw before it could confirm whether it killed the target because they came under fire, the official said. The SEALs made the "prudent decision" to withdraw rather than engage in further combat, according to the official.
The other mission ended in the capture of Abu Anas al Libi, who is suspected to have played a significant role in the August 7, 1998, bombings of American embassies in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania; and Nairobi, Kenya, U.S. officials said.FULL STORY
By Evan Perez and Barbara Starr
A key al Qaeda operative wanted for his role in the bombings of U.S. embassies in Africa in 1998 has been captured in a U.S. special operations forces raid in Tripoli, Libya, U.S. officials tell CNN.
Abu Anas al Libi was grabbed from the Libyan capital in what one of the officials described as a "capture" operation from the Libyan capital. The U.S. operation was conducted with the knowledge of the Libyan government, a U.S. official said.
Al Libi - on whom the U.S. government had put out a $5 million reward - is alleged to have played a key role in the August 7, 1998, bombings of American embassies in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania; and Nairobi, Kenya.
He has been indicted in the United States on charges of conspiracy to kill U.S. nationals, murder, destruction of American buildings and government property, and destruction of national defense utilities of the United States.FULL STORY
By Evan Perez and Paul Cruickshank
A Tunisian man who U.S. authorities allege is an al Qaeda member was extradited Thursday from Belgium to the United States to face charges stemming from a plot to bomb a NATO base there.
Nizar Trabelsi, who was convicted in 2003 for that plot, spent 12 years in Belgian custody and was nearing the end of his sentence. The extradition could help resolve a major concern for U.S. and European terrorism officials who feared that because of shorter sentences in Belgium, Trabelsi could be freed. The same charges in the United States could carry a life sentence, if he is convicted.
Trabelsi was arrested on September 13, 2001, in Belgium - two days after the 9/11 attacks - and charged with plotting to carry out a suicide bomb attack.
Trabelsi was indicted in 2006 by a grand jury in Washington. The indictment was unsealed Thursday.
By Barbara Starr
The U.S. intelligence community is monitoring a specific stream of classified information suggesting the terror group believed to be behind the Nairobi shopping mall attack may be planning new attacks in East Africa, particularly in Kenya, CNN has learned.
Two U.S. officials said the information does not include details of a target or date. But it is the first detailed indication that they may have information to validate threats made by Somali-based al-Shabaab that more attacks were planned after the attack on the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi.
"We are concerned," one official said.
"There are data points that worry us. Our intelligence is focused on how do we prevent any more attacks," the other official said.