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Does U.S. now favor commando raids over air strikes?

October 7th, 2013
04:04 PM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

The U.S. operations this weekend in Somalia and Libya are putting a spotlight once again on American military tactics around the world, and incursions into other countries.

The fact that both operations used commandos on the ground, instead of drone strikes, which have so proliferated under U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration, may be indicative of a recent trend.

“There’s been a strong desire to increase the number of captures and increase the amount of intelligence that we can glean from these operatives,” Former U.S. Counter Terrorism Coordinator Daniel Benjamin told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Monday.

Benjamin is director of Dartmouth's John Sloan Dickey Center for International Understanding.

Abu Anas al Libi, a man wanted for his connection to the 1998 East Africa embassy bombings, was capture by U.S. forces in Tripoli, Libya.

“There’s a lot to learn from this man,” Benjamin said, “and there’s the additional fact that the Untied States never lets these cases die, and it’s very important to show that we’re going to follow them to their conclusion and that justice will be done.”

The U.S. has an outstanding indictment on al-Libi, and the American government should be able to get him convicted even if he does not talk to investigators, Benjamin told Amanpour.

“However, it would be nice to get some of the intelligence from him on the connections between Libya and the al-Qaeda core in Pakistan,” he said, “some of the networks that exist across North Africa, what’s going on in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas in Pakistan, where he has deep roots.”

It is unclear how much the Libyan government knew about America’s raid, but Benjamin said that it was “entirely possible” that there were discussions between the governments and that Libya could have agreed to “turn a blind eye.”

The target of another U.S. raid that morning, in Somalia, was a commander of al-Shabaab – it is believed that he escaped after American Navy Seals came under heavy fire.

“Al-Shabaab used to control Somalia,” Benjamin said, “including almost all of Mogadishu except for a few city blocks. And now it doesn’t control anything in Mogadishu. That said, the group retains an ability to carry out terrorist operations in the region.”

Despite having a hard time holding onto territory, Benjamin told Amanpour, it has continued to be a “big concern” for the region, especially in countries like Kenya, which “don’t have very strong security.”

Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Latest Episode • Libya • Somalia
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