Republicans on Tuesday criticized the aborted Navy SEAL weekend raid in Somalia as a “failure.”
The special forces team was sent in to grab an al Shabaab commander suspected of plotting attacks in Kenya but aborted the mission because of concerns they could harm civilians.
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) slammed the Pentagon's failure to capture Abdulkadir Mohamed Abdulkadir – also known as Ikrima – during a hearing on the way forward in Somalia.
“The fact is that it was a failure,” McCain said. “The fact is that it was an intelligence failure there, otherwise the mission would have been completed.”
Media reports suggest the SEALs encountered “greater resistance than they had anticipated,” he told Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Africa Amanda Dory. “Is that an accurate description?”
Dory refused to answer in an unclassified setting, prompting Mccain's ire.
“We have to have information in secured settings but it's OK for the media,” McCain answered. “Don't be surprised, Ms. Dori, when there's skepticism here about the activities that you engage in.”
Sen. Jeff Flake (Ariz.), the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations subpanel on Africa, likewise expressed concern about the mission.
“How does that affect our policy going forward — what challenges does that present to us to have another failed raid into the country?” Flake asked. “Does that embolden al Shabaab?”
Dory didn't answer that question either.
The Department of Defense sought to portray the raid as a success.
“While the operation did not result in Ikrima's capture, U.S. military personnel conducted the operation with unparalleled precision and demonstrated that the United States can put direct pressure on al-Shabaab leadership at any time of our choosing,” spokesman George Little said in a statement. “Working in partnership with the government of the Federal Republic of Somalia, the United States military will continue to confront the threat posed by al-Shabaab.”
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