It looks like the US strike in Somalia sent a local al-Qaeda leader to Paradise for his virgins sooner than he expected:
United States forces launched a third consecutive day of air strikes in Somalia on Wednesday as a Somali government official said one of three al-Qaeda suspects targeted by the raids was believed to have been killed.
The official said the operation was understood to have killed an al-Qaeda militant thought to be behind the 1998 bombings of US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, which killed 224 people in all.
"I have received a report from the American side chronicling the targets and list of damage. One of the items they were claiming was that Fazul Abdullah Mohammed is dead," said Abdirizak Hassan, the Somali president’s Chief of Staff.
Mohammed was reportedly killed during the first wave of attacks on Monday, when US AC-130 planes attacked targets around Ras Kamboni, in the south of the country, he said.
The suspect is thought to have been one of the key targets of the US strikes, along with Abu Taha al-Sudani, a Sudanese explosives expert believed to head al-Qaeda operations in East Africa, and Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan, a Kenyan.
It was not known whether either of the other two men had been killed, the official added.
We can only hope.
Naturally, the article has to end on a critical note:
But analysts said it remained an enormous challenge to establish the whereabouts of suspected al-Qaeda cells or to carry out an accurate strike against them, given the limitations of the AC-130.
"It’s akin to the heart of darkness, just shooting into the jungle," said Bob Baer, a former CIA agent. "At the end of the day, you are just making more enemies." —
There are three flaws in this assumption: first, it’s an assumption. There’s no indication that Mr. Baer (the model for George Clooney’s character in Syriana) actually knows the situation on the ground in Somalia, or just how the strikes were carried out. A known critic of Administration policy, he was probably sought out precisely for a negative quote.
Second, while I don’t know Mr. Baer’s specific intent when saying "you are just making more enemies," many critics who believe this also believe that the hatred of the Islamists for America and the West is somehow our fault: colonialism, racism, interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan, support for Israel… pick your favorite. But this is nonsense. The various reasons they cite are no more than window-dressing to justify an aggressive ideology that offers non-Muslims three choices: a) become Muslim; b) submit to second-class status as dhimmis; c) or suffer attack and death. The "blame the victim" argument also fails to account for the thousands of Muslims killed by jihadi terrorism in Muslim countries or the many attacks launched in countries that have not supported the US "war on terror," such as Indonesia.
Finally, the "anything we do makes more" crowd ignores the decades-long growth of anti-Western, Islamist ideology and the thousands of people who have been raised and trained to hate America and the West long before we invaded Iraq and Afghanistan. From the foundation of the Muslim Brotherhood in the 1920s and its descendents Hamas and al-Qaeda, through the millenarian Iranian Revolution in 1979 and the empowerment of Saudi Wahhabism with petrodollars to fund radical madrassas that have churned out thousands of would-be jihadis, radical Islam has been building as a threat for a long, long time. Their war with us does not depend on what we do: it is simply for who we are.
In the end, contrary to Mr. Baer and the apparent editorial point of the article’s author, the operations in Somalia are exactly what we should be doing: taking the war to the enemy to keep him off-balance. It’s what Mr. Bush has dubbed the "forward strategy of freedom." And if we don’t pursue it our enemies will come after us again and again.