CIA, Special Forces, and Marines — all part of the first group in, according to a senior military intelligence official. Not a shock, but reassuring to know.
Pajamas Media previously reported that Ethiopia’s use of helicopter gunships capable of targeting the Islamic Courts Union’s ground forces was a decisive factor in the army-to-army fighting against the ICU. A senior military intelligence source says that some of the gunships earlier described as Ethiopian were in fact U.S. aircraft. This has been confirmed by Dahir Jibreel, the transitional government’s permanent secretary in charge of international cooperation, who said that U.S. planes and helicopters with their markings obscured have been striking targets since December 25.
This part seems sketchy, but here you go:
Pajamas Media has learned that there have been high-level communications between ICU affiliates in Ras Kamboni and al-Qaeda’s central leadership. A senior military intelligence officer told Pajamas Media that Ayman al-Zawahiri’s January 5 tape calling for his followers to flock to Somalia to fight alongside the ICU was a result of a plea by a well-connected terrorist figure in Ras Kamboni, most likely Abu Talha al-Sudani, the head of al-Qaeda’s East Africa operations.
How would the intelligence official know that? Zawahiri follows the news; he wouldn’t need to be formally asked by the ICU to call for volunteers in Somalia. And how would that message have gotten to him so quickly when the ICU was under siege at the time from three different armies?
PJM says the odds are unfortunately good that jihadis are making their way into Kenya by bribing the local police; that might explain the military’s sudden willingness to stage a high-profile attack with gunships. There have been new strikes today, too, this time with helicopter gunships attacking jihadis and reportedly firing rockets at the road to Kenya to slow the jihadi escape. Same area as yesterday: Ras Kamboni, the AQ training camp where the remnants are believed to be holed up, although the AP reports missiles being fired at the road leading to Kenya, no doubt to slow the jihadi escape. The Ethopians say they’re close to capturing it. Meanwhile, jets from the USS Eisenhower have begun flying reconaissance missions.
The EU, naturally, is mortified by U.S. involvement:
[T]he attacks were condemned by the EU today. “Any incident of this kind is not helpful in the long term,” Amadeu Altafaj Tardio, a European commission spokesman, said.
The Somali government feels differently:
President Abdullahi Yusuf told journalists in Mogadishu that the U.S. “has a right to bombard terrorist suspects who attacked its embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.” Deputy Prime Minister Hussein Aideed told The Associated Press the U.S. had “our full support for the attacks.”