By Nick Simeone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Oct. 8, 2013 – Just days after U.S. forces carried out raids in Libya and Somalia to bring wanted terrorists to justice, President Barack Obama made clear today the United States will continue to carry out similar strikes overseas as long as threats to the nation exist.
Obama made the comments two days after Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced the military had seized al-Qaida member Abu Anas al Libi during an operation in Libya. Libi has been indicted in New York in connection with the 1998 U.S. Embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania.
“We know that Mr. al-Libi planned and helped execute plots that killed hundreds of people, a whole lot of Americans,” Obama said in response to a question at a White House news conference that dealt almost entirely with his call for Congress to end the government shutdown and raise the nation’s debt limit.
In a separate raid Oct. 4 in Somalia, U.S. military personnel carried out a targeted operation against Abdikadir Mohamed Abdikadir, also known as “Ikrima,” identified as a top commander of the al-Qaida affiliated al-Shabaab terrorist group. A Pentagon spokesman said that operation did not lead to Ikrima’s capture.
“Where you’ve got active plots and active networks, we’re going to go after them,” Obama said, referring to terrorists and others who pose risks to the United States. He said the quick-strike military operations carried out by U.S forces in Libya and Somalia do not signal the opening of a new war against terrorism.
“There is a difference between us going after terrorists who are plotting directly to do damage to the United States and us being involved in wars,” and made reference to an address he delivered in May in which he said the United States will continue to dismantle networks that pose a direct danger to the country.
“The risks of terrorism and terrorist networks are going to continue for some time,” Obama told reporters today, and added that a long-term plan is needed to prevent unemployed and uneducated young men from becoming radicalized.
“We’ve got to engage in a war of ideas in the region and engage with Muslim countries and try to isolate radical elements that are doing more danger to Muslims than they are doing to anybody else,” he said.
A Pentagon spokesman said Libi is being detained under the law of war in a secure location outside Libya. Obama said today that he will be brought to justice.
The president added words of praise for the service members involved in the operations.
“The operations that took place both in Libya and Somalia were examples of the extraordinary skill and dedication and talent of our men and women in the armed forces,” he said. “They do their jobs
extremely well, with great precision, at great risk to themselves.”