SAS set to strike Somali al-Shabaab mall terror group

Neil Chandler — Daily Star Sept 29, 2013

British SAS are currently in Djibouti with French and U.S. Special Forces. Click to enlarge

A sixth Brit was last night confirmed among at least 67 feared killed in the Nairobi mall massacre.

Inside Somalia, al-Shabaab has gained support and while politicians claim the government controls the capital Mogadishu, attacks remain a daily threat.

Much of the country remains under extremist control.

The north-east is dominated by al-Shabaab and sources claim ­operations by the African Union are simply holding the militant offensive.

Just four months ago al-Shabaab shot down a top-secret experimental US drone, the Schiebel S-100.

Now Prime Minister David Cameron, France’s Francois Hollande and ­President Obama have agreed to ­support the Somali president with ­limited military assistance and a Joint Coalition Special Forces Task Force will target the group.

British special forces units are already in Djibouti, north of Somalia, exercising with French and American forces who in the past three years have launched drone attacks into Somalia to eliminate “high value” terrorist targets.

A senior source said there are several options but Our Boys will need to put some time on the ground to get an intelligence picture of current al-Shabaab resources and plan a way forward.

He said: “They are aware of our ­capability to watch from above and have adapted their tactics, hiding equipment and concealing their key players from our spy-in-the-sky technology.

“The African Union are doing a good job but they lack combat experience and at present they seem to be in a stalemate with militants and soldiers shooting at each other day after day.

“Pressure needs to be applied so that al-Shabaab’s ability to move across the country at will is restricted and the African Union control the battle space.”

Sources indicate the strike inside ­Somalia will include advisers from the Somali government. It will target ­al-Shabaab resources and requires an assault force to go in.

The source added: “There are several levels to this. Any action needs to be signed off at the highest level.

“We need to make sure we have a Somali government presence and we need to avoid collateral damage with cruise missiles which can kill innocent civilians.

“That means this is a job for blades, men on the ground.”

The UK currently has a Royal Navy task force in the Red Sea, which is taking part in Exercise Cougar 13 and includes 800 Royal Marine ­Commandos and two Special Boat Service teams.

Furious British security officials are demanding to know why UK special forces in Nairobi were not called in to help with the mall rescue operation.

SAS soldiers were in the capital on training exercises when terrorists struck last Saturday but they were not brought in.

Israeli Special Forces in the area were also not asked to take part in the life-saving mission.

“Two of the best special forces in the world were there but not called in,” said a Whitehall security source.

“There is a big inquest at high level as to why. The Brits and Israelis have experience in carrying out raids and rescuing hostages.

“They have the expertise that the Kenyan troops don’t.”

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