Pentagon press secretary George Little on Monday confirmed that a U.S. military raid in Somalia failed to capture a top leader of al Shabaab, a terror group tied to al Qaeda.
The mission targeted Abdikadir Mohamed Abdikadir, also known as Ikrima, a Kenyan of Somalian origin.
“The goal of the operation was to capture Ikrima under legal authorities granted to the Department of Defense by the Authorization to Use Military Force (2001) against al Qaeda and its associated forces,” said Little in a statement.
“While the operation did not result in Ikrima's capture, U.S. military personnel conducted the operation with unparalleled precision and demonstrated that the United States can put direct pressure on al Shabaab leadership at any time of our choosing,” he added.
Reports said the raid on Ikrima’s compound on the Somalian coast was carried out by U.S. Navy SEALs. U.S. officials told Reuters that American troops took no casualties, but had to suspend their attack to avoid harming innocent civilians.
The raid came two weeks after a deadly attack on a shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya, which killed dozens of people. Al Shabaab claimed responsibility for that attack.
The SEAL raid came on the same day as another military operation which say U.S. forces in Tripoli, Libya capture a high-ranking al Qaeda operative accused of participating in the 1998 bombings of American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.
White House press secretary Jay Carney on Monday said that both operations had been approved by President Obama. Carney said they were two separate missions and their being carried out on the same day was coincidental.
In his statement Monday, Little said the U.S. would pursue al-Shabaab militants.
“Working in partnership with the government of the Federal Republic of Somalia, the United States military will continue to confront the threat posed by al-Shabaab. The United States military has unmatched capabilities and could rely on any of them to disrupt terrorist networks and plots,” Little said.
White House correspondent Brian Hughes contributed to this report.