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Official: Missile aimed at FBI target in Somalia

  • Story Highlights
  • Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan, 28, targeted in missile strike in Somalia, official says
  • Nabhan is wanted for questioning in 2002 terror attacks in Kenya
  • He is also thought to be an associate of al Qaeda member Harun Fazul
  • Strike hit near town of Dhoobley, close to Somali-Kenyan border
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From Barbara Starr
CNN
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A U.S. missile strike in southern Somalia on Monday targeted a man wanted by the FBI, two senior U.S. officials said Tuesday.

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Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan is wanted for questioning in 2002 attacks in Kenya, including a hotel suicide blast.

It is unclear whether Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan was killed when a U.S. submarine fired a Tomahawk missile at the target, the officials said.

The FBI wants Nabhan, 28, for questioning in the 2002 suicide bombing of an Israeli-owned hotel and the unsuccessful attack on an Israeli charter jet in Mombasa, Kenya.

Ten Kenyans and three Israelis were killed when three suicide bombers detonated a car bomb outside Mombasa's Paradise Hotel.

The bombing took place within minutes of an unsuccessful missile attack on an Israeli charter jet, which was taking off with 261 passengers and 10 crew members.

Nabhan is also thought to be an associate of al Qaeda member Harun Fazul, who was indicted for the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, according to the FBI.

More than 200 people were killed and 4,000 wounded in the attacks, most of them Kenyans.

The U.S. military has long sought Nabhan because he is believed to be deeply involved in al Qaeda's East African operations, one senior official said.

The FBI announced in February 2006 that it was seeking information on Nabhan and any possible links to those incidents.

The Pentagon confirmed Monday that the U.S. military struck "a target against a known al Qaeda terrorist."

The strike hit near the town of Dhoobley along the Somali-Kenyan border, a U.S. military official said Monday.

It was aimed at a "facility where there were known terrorists" affiliated with East African al Qaeda operations, the official said. Video Watch report on what U.S. calls a precision strike »

The strike destroyed two houses, killing three women and three children and wounding another 20 people, said Dhoobley's district commissioner, Ali Nur Ali Dherre. Dherre said the remains of the missiles were marked "US K."

Villagers fled in fear of another attack, Dherre said, adding that he did not know of any Islamist extremists in the village.

While referring questions about details of the strike to the Pentagon, White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe stressed that "the United States is going to go after al Qaeda and al Qaeda-affiliated operatives wherever we find them."

"They are plotting and planning all over the world to destabilize the world, to inflict terror, and where we find them, we are going to go after them," he said.

The United States conducted similar strikes in southern Somalia in January 2007 against al Qaeda targets. Officials later confirmed that they did not believe that they achieved their goal.

The 2007 targets also included members of the Islamic Courts Union, who had recently been driven out of power in Somalia by Ethiopian-backed Somali troops.

Washington accuses the Islamic movement of harboring fugitives from al Qaeda, including the suspect in the 1998 embassy bombings. E-mail to a friend

CNN's Kevin Bohn and journalist Mohamed Amiin Adow contributed to this report.

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