Slain al-Qaida suspect’s mother asks to see body
MOMBASA, Kenya – The mother of a top al-Qaida fugitive who was killed in a U.S. raid in Somalia demanded Wednesday to see her son’s body while a Somalia-based group claimed him as their leader and confirmed his death.
Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan, a 30-year-old Kenyan, was wanted for the 2002 car bombing of a beach resort in Kenya and a failed attempt to shoot down an Israeli airliner. Three senior U.S. officials familiar with Monday’s commando raid confirmed he was killed.
Aisha Abdallah told The Associated Press she wants “to see the body of my son before it is buried.”
“My son has never been a terrorist,” said Abdallah, dressed in an orange and black headscarf in her modest, four-room apartment in this steamy coastal city.
A statement posted on an Islamic Web site Wednesday from the al-Shabab Mujahideen Movement confirmed Nabhan’s death and the death of an unspecified number of other militants. U.S. officials said six people were killed in the strike by elite U.S. forces.
The authenticity of the statement could not be verified, but it was posted on an Islamic Web site that regularly carries statements from al-Qaida and other militant groups.
The Somalia-based insurgent group vowed to avenge Nabhan’s death and said they would keep fighting.
“God foiled the endeavor of our stupid enemy who imagined that the flame of jihad in the Muslim lands … will be extinguished with the killing of the mujahideen leaders,” the statement read.
Monday’s raid — rare in Somalia since the October 1993 battle of “Black Hawk Down” that was chronicled in a book and movie — underscored Washington’s concerns that lawless Somalia is fast becoming a haven for terrorists, including foreigners who want to plot attacks beyond the African country’s borders.
Three senior U.S. officials familiar with the operation said Nabhan was killed.
A fourth official said the attack was launched by forces from multiple U.S. military branches and included Navy SEALs, at least two Army assault helicopters and the involvement of two U.S. warships in the region for months.
All the U.S. officials were hesitant to provide details and spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak on the record about the secretive commando operation.
U.S. officials have become increasingly concerned that al-Qaida insurgents are moving out of safe havens along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border and into anarchic Somalia, where they can mobilize recruits without interference.