Dem says raids not politically motivated

A pair of counterterrorism operations targeting al Qaeda-linked suspects in Somalia and Libya were not designed to bolster President Obama's sagging polling numbers, Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.) said Monday. 

"When you get intelligence ... you go when you think the timing is right," Ruppersberger said.  

The Maryland Democrat dismissed accusations Obama gave the green light to those operations as a way to shift focus away from the White House's political challenges at home.  

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Obama’s approval rating has dropped to one of the lowest levels in two years in the wake of the government shutdown and continued fights with congressional Republicans over ObamaCare and the debt ceiling.

Since the government shutdown, Obama’s approval rating has slipped 3 percentage points to 41 percent, while his disapproval went up to 52 percent, according to a Gallup poll on Friday. 

That said, "the timing was right, pursuant to the intelligence" to go after al Qaeda leader Anas al-Liby in Libya and al-Shabaab commander Abdulkadir Mohamed Abdulkadir in Somalia, Ruppersberger said during an interview on CNN. 

On Sunday, members of the Navy's Special Warfare Development Group, also known as SEAL Team 6, launched a nighttime raid against Abdulkadir's stronghold in the costal town of Barawe in southern Somalia, according to the Pentagon. 

That same day, U.S. special forces captured al-Liby during a capture mission in Libya, the Pentagon confirmed. 

The Barawe raid was launched in response to al-Shabaab's deadly attack on the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya, which ended with more than 60 dead and hundreds wounded. 

Al-Liby's capture was the culmination of a lengthy manhunt for the Libyan national by U.S. intelligence agents. He was wanted for his involvement in the in the bombings of the U.S. Embassies in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and Nairobi in 1998.

Recent reports citing administration sources say the White House has already decided to try al-Liby on those charges before a civilian court, and not the military tribunal in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. 

He is currently being questioned by American intelligence officials aboard a Navy warship in international waters in the region. 

In Somalia, the SEAL team was forces to abort its mission to capture Abdulkadir alive, after the team engaged al-Shabaab gunmen during the operation. 

The White House and Pentagon opted not to launch an armed drone strike against Abdulkadir's location in Somalia, since military and intelligence officials wanted to al-Shabaab leader taken alive.