That [CIA] officer was present when the Kenyan authorities arrived at the café to arrest the suspected al-Qaida emailer, only to find two suspects — both male, one larger than the other — instead of one. With the case officer on the phone with the Nairobi station reporting events in real time, the police placed both under arrest and were about to put them into a paddy wagon when the larger suspect, later identified as a young Kenyan named Faisal Ali Nassor, suddenly gave his companion a sharp shove and then pulled a grenade from his clothes. “One guy pushes the smaller guy away from him,” said a special operations source with firsthand knowledge of operations in the Horn. “The [larger] guy blows himself up and takes the police out.”
The explosion killed Nassor and a policeman. In the ensuing chaos, the other suspect made a run for it. To the surprise of the CIA and the Kenyan authorities, that man turned out to be Harun Fazul, East Africa’s most wanted man with a $5 million bounty on his head. “Clearly we didn’t expect to get Fazul himself,” the intelligence source said. “We figured we’d get just his courier.”
But rather than just being a courier, Nassor was “a suicide bodyguard,” said the special ops source.
Security forces converged on the scene, but Fazul was too smart for them. He ran into a mosque and emerged disguised as a woman, wearing a hijab or some other form of Islamic facial covering. “He walked right out as a woman and nobody touched him,” the intelligence source said.
Fazul had moved in with Nassor that July. Using an ID seized from one of them, the security forces went straight to their apartment. There they found Fazul’s passport, a machine for making visas, “bits and pieces of other passports,” as well as a light anti-tank rocket hidden in a couch, said the special ops source. But of Fazul himself, there was no sign. The wily operative had again given the authorities the slip. It would be another eight years before Fazul’s tradecraft — and his luck — would fail him.
Thursday, January 12, 2012
The Army Times has a great six part series on the covert war that we are conducting in Somalia against al-Qaida (parts one, two, three, four, five and six). An excerpt: