U.S. issues alert for Uganda amid reports of potential 'Westgate-style' attack
Smoke rises from Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall during September's attack
October 17th, 2013
08:43 PM ET

U.S. issues alert for Uganda amid reports of potential 'Westgate-style' attack

The U.S. Embassy in Kampala, Uganda, issued an alert this week to Americans that it is looking into reports that an attack similar to the one at a Kenyan mall could soon occur in the the city.

The embassy's statement said there were no specific details about a possible date or location of a "Westgate-style attack." It didn't say where the reports were coming from.

A U.S. official with direct knowledge of the latest information told CNN the notice was sent "out of an abundance of caution." The U.S. is still vetting the information, the official said, to see if there is any truth behind it.

Washington doesn't think the Westgate attackers or al Qaeda is planning the potential attack, the U.S. official said.

At least 67 people were killed by multiple attackers during the four-day siege at the mall in Nairobi last month. The terrorists who attacked the mall claimed to be members of Somalia-based Al-Shabaab.

The embassy in Kampala - Uganda's capital - urged Americans traveling to the country or living there to register with the State Department's Smart Traveller Enrollment Program.

-CNN's Barbara Starr and Elise Labott contributed to this report.

 

 

Harman: Who’s out there trying to do us harm?
October 17th, 2013
12:03 PM ET

Harman: Who’s out there trying to do us harm?

Editors Note: Jane Harman is director, president and chief executive officer of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. She was a nine-term congresswoman from California, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee from 2002 to 2006, and a principal coauthor of the Intelligence Reform Law of 2004 and the FISA Amendments of 2008.

By Jane Harman, Special to CNN

The October 5 takedown of Nazih Abdul Hamed al Ruqai – an alleged perpetrator of the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya, a long-standing occupant of the FBI’s “Most Wanted” list, and alleged one-time member of Osama bin Laden’s security team – surprised many.

It was a brilliantly successful operation conducted by our military under strict legal guidelines for capture, interrogations, arrest and now transfer to New York for trial. This process may be the new gold standard for CT operations going forward.

U.S. officials hope he will provide useful information about his al Qaeda colleagues and plots being planned against Western and American targets so we may be able to thwart future attacks.

But while this capture was picture-perfect, al Ruqai was only one of many terrorists currently on the loose.
FULL POST


Filed under: Al Qaeda • AQAP • Boko Haram • Libya • Terrorism • Yemen
Alleged al Qaeda operative Al Libi taken to New York week after capture in Libya
October 14th, 2013
04:27 PM ET

Alleged al Qaeda operative Al Libi taken to New York week after capture in Libya

By Evan Perez and Susan Candiotti

The United States has brought Abu Anas al Libi - an alleged al Qaeda operative whom U.S. Army Delta Force soldiers captured in Libya this month - to New York, a U.S. attorney's office said Monday.

He was transferred to law enforcement custody over the weekend, the office of Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said.

Al Libi is expected to appear before a judicial officer on Tuesday, the office said.

FULL STORY
Libya approves U.S. operations to get Benghazi suspects
October 9th, 2013
11:17 PM ET

Libya approves U.S. operations to get Benghazi suspects

By Barbara Starr

The Libyan government has given the United States "tacit approval" to conduct missions inside Libya to capture suspects involved in the terror attack on the diplomatic compound in Benghazi, a senior U.S. official told CNN.

The official has direct knowledge of the arrangements but declined to be identified due to the sensitive nature of the information.

Approval for action against Benghazi suspects, which was granted in recent weeks, is the same type of agreement that allowed a U.S. raid this past weekend in Tripoli.
FULL POST

GOP senators: Bad decision not to put Al Libi in Gitmo
October 9th, 2013
10:45 AM ET

GOP senators: Bad decision not to put Al Libi in Gitmo

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.
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Filed under: Al Qaeda • Libya
Report sheds light on al Qaeda-linked hijacking plot in 2000
The document cites a January 2000 meeting between Osama bin Laden and Taliban officials to discuss a plot to hijack airplanes.
October 8th, 2013
07:01 PM ET

Report sheds light on al Qaeda-linked hijacking plot in 2000

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.
FULL POST

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Filed under: Afghanistan • Al Qaeda • Intelligence • Osama bin Laden • Terrorism
What the terror raids say about an 'Obama Doctrine'
October 7th, 2013
04:09 PM ET

What the terror raids say about an 'Obama Doctrine'

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
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Filed under: Obama • Terrorism
U.S. target in Somalia: An inside story on an Al-Shabaab commander
A soldier belonging to the African Union Mission in Somalia stands guard on a street during an operation aimed at improving security in Mogadishu, Somalia.
October 7th, 2013
12:10 PM ET

U.S. target in Somalia: An inside story on an Al-Shabaab commander

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.
FULL POST

October 7th, 2013
11:51 AM ET

Official: Navy SEAL team pulled out when it couldn't capture suspect alive

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.
FULL POST

October 6th, 2013
09:47 AM ET

U.S. forces strike in Libya, Somalia, capture al Qaeda leader

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.

Full Story

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