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Why the SEALs Aborted Their Somalia Raid | Killer Apps

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Twenty years to the day after the failed "Black Hawk Down" Ranger mission in Mogadishu, Somalia, the commander of a Navy SEAL team attempting to extract a terrorist kingpin from a coastal village pulled his unit out as the mission started to founder and it became clear the militant leader couldn't be taken alive.

The snatch-and-grab mission on Oct. 4 began as planned. SEAL Team Six, the same unit that targeted Osama bin Laden in Pakistan in 2011, approached the Somali coast in the darkness. Their target, according to U.S. military officials: the leader of al Qaeda's East Africa branch, a Somali-born Kenyan named Abdulkadir Mohamed Abdulkadir, also known as Ikrima . Elements of the unit got past the beach, military officials tell Foreign Policy. But at some point during the perilous mission, the SEAL team came under heavy fire. It soon became clear to the unit commander that the team could not capture Ikrima alive, and he determined that they should abruptly withdraw without their prize.

The risk to civilian life, as well as the threat to the team itself also drove what was described as a "conscious decision" to pull back out, a military official said.

"Once the gunfight breaks out, they realize they're not going to be able to capture this guy without the risk becoming too high," the official added, confirming news first reported by CNN. "They made a decision, 'hey, not today,' and out they came."

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