Then a lone al Shabaab fighter walked out into plain view, smoked a cigarette, and went back inside, one source familiar with the details of the raid said. The fighter played it cool, and gave no indication that he had spotted the SEALs. But he came back out shooting, firing rounds from an AK-47 assault rifle.

Soon the American commandos were under siege from the warlord’s well-armed fighters. Gunfire swept toward their positions and grenades began to rain down, multiple military sources said.

Several of the SEALs could see Ikrima through the windows of the compound, but couldn’t get to him. The SEALs continued to take fire while trying to find a way to get closer to their target. …

The suspect was barricaded and heavily protected by armed men, and now children were intermingled among the fighters and in danger of dying. Then the whole town of Barawe began to erupt and more armed fighters were seen heading for Ikrima’s compound. Soon there would be fewer than two dozen Americans against hundreds of Somalis.