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.
By Barbara Starr
U.S. security and law enforcement personnel are pressing for access to a Kenyan shopping mall where a terror attack and subsequent armed standoff killed at least 67 people.
A U.S. official with direct knowledge of the situation and the latest security assessment said authorities want to know whether any Americans were among the attackers in Nairobi as claimed by the Somali-based al-Shabaab terror group said to be behind the Westgate Mall attack.
“That is the million dollar question,” the official said. “We do not have much fidelity on this. We haven’t had access to the scene.”
Kenyan authorities have said the attackers were from a number of countries, but have not confirmed that any Americans were involved.
By Paul Cruickshank and Tim Lister
The Al-Shabaab assault on a mall in Nairobi, Kenya, is alarming for its audacity, its scale and the sophisticated planning that went into it. Both the choice of target and method of attack exactly fit the new al Qaeda playbook.
Few counterterrorism experts are surprised that the Somali group launched another attack in the Kenyan capital. It has threatened to take revenge ever since Kenyan forces entered Al-Shabaab's heartland in southern Somalia. Small-scale attacks, frequently with hand grenades, have already brought bloodshed to Nairobi's streets. Back in September of last year, Kenyan authorities said they had disrupted a major plot to attack public spaces in Nairobi in its final stages of planning. Authorities also broke up a plot by the group against Western tourists in the city in late 2007.
But the scope of the assault on the Westgate Mall - and especially its eerie similarities to the attack in Mumbai, India, in 2008 - show that Al-Shabaab has taken its ability to strike outside Somalia to a new level.
Only once before has the group caused such carnage in East Africa, when bombers attacked bars and restaurants in the Ugandan capital, Kampala, on the night of the World Cup Final in 2010. More than 60 people were killed. Al-Shabaab said the attacks were in retaliation for Uganda's leading role in the African Union force supporting Somalia's weak government in Mogadishu.FULL STORY
By Paul Cruickshank
American Omar Hammami, who built a following in militant circles in the West for his idiosyncratic jihadist rap videos and had a U.S. bounty on his head, was among two notable jihadists reportedly killed in Somalia on Thursday.
Sources said Hammami and Briton Osama al-Britani were apparently ambushed west of Mogadishu by members of al Qaeda affiliate Al-Shabaab.
A message posted on the al-Jihad al-Alami forum said they were killed "by an unjust raid by the Emir of the Shabaab al-Mujahideen Movement and his followers in Islamic Bay and Bakool province after clashes that lasted for several hours while they defended themselves," according to a translation by the SITE intelligence group.
Hammami, a former Al-Shabaab fighter and prolific English-language propagandist for the group with a $5 million American bounty on his head, went into hiding after falling out with the group last year.
By Evan Perez, CNN Justice Reporter
Federal authorities have issued a series of general alerts to law enforcement for vigilance with the approach of the Sept. 11 anniversary and a possible U.S. military strike in Syria, law enforcement officials said.
U.S. law enforcement officials say there's no indication of specific plots in the Unites States related to the 9/11 anniversary, which is the first since the 2012 attack on a U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya, that killed the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans.
By Leslie Bentz
American-born al Qaeda spokesman Adam Gadahn is calling for attacks on U.S. ambassadors around the world.
In a 39-minute video, Gadahn praised the death of Libya's U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens on September 11 last year - and urged wealthy Muslims to offer militants rewards so they can kill others, according to SITE, a jihadist monitoring group.
Specifically, he referenced a bounty set for the death of U.S. Ambassador to Yemen, Gerald Feierstein.
"These prizes have a great effect in instilling fear in the hearts of our cowardly enemies," Gadahn who has a $1 million dollar bounty on his head, says in the video. "They also encourage hesitant individuals to carry out important and great deeds in the path of Allah."FULL STORY
By Jamie Crawford
None of the 107 nuclear facilities in the United States are protected against a high-force terrorist attack, and some are still vulnerable to the theft of bomb-grade nuclear fuel, or sabotage intended to cause a nuclear meltdown, a new report says.
The Nuclear Proliferation Prevention Project (NPPP) at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas released the report Thursday. It wants to shine a light on the security gaps that still exist more than 10 years after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
"It would be a tragedy if the United States had to look back after such an attack on a nuclear reactor and say that we could have and should have done more to prevent the catastrophe," said Prof. Alan J. Kuperman, co-author of the report.
The study was done at the request of the Defense Department after the Pentagon commissioned an academic study of the security vulnerabilities of the nation's 104 commercial nuclear power reactors and three civilian research reactors.FULL STORY