U.S. Commandos take 2 hostages away from Somali pirates

American commandos raced into Somalia early Wednesday and rescued two aid workers, an American woman and a Danish man, after a shootout with Somali pirates who had been holding them captive for months.

The American forces — drawn from the same Navy commando unit that killed Osama bin Laden — swooped in and killed nine pirates before spiriting away the hostages, who were not harmed…

It appeared that President Obama was fully aware of the raid as he was about to give his State of the Union speech on Tuesday night, which would have been early Wednesday in Somalia…

In a statement on Wednesday, the president said he authorized the operation on Monday, and he mentioned the American hostage, Jessica Buchanan, by name. “Thanks to the extraordinary courage and capabilities of our Special Operations forces, yesterday Jessica Buchanan was rescued and she is on her way home. As commander in chief, I could not be prouder of the troops who carried out this mission, and the dedicated professionals who supported their efforts…”

American officials said Wednesday that the assault team for the hostage-rescue mission drew from the Navy commando unit commonly referred to as Seal Team Six, the Navy’s top-tier counterterrorism organization, which carried out the deadly raid on Bin Laden inside Pakistan. But officials stressed that the rescue mission included personnel from the other armed services as well, and that the commandos themselves were not necessarily the same people who conducted the Bin Laden raid.

Somalia is considered one of the most dangerous places in the world, plagued by pirate gangs and countless militant groups, a lawless nation that has languished for 21 years without a functioning government. Several Westerners have recently been kidnapped, typically for ransom, and it seems that as Somalia’s pirates have a harder time hijacking ships on the high seas because of the beefed up naval efforts, they are increasingly turning to snatching foreigners on land…

Somalia is also considered a no-go zone for conventional American military operations, but it has been the site of several special operations raids, usually to kill wanted terrorism suspects. American forces stage the raids from a constellation of bases ringing Somalia, in Ethiopia, Djibouti and Kenya.

According to local leaders in Galkayo, dark helicopters began circling over the area late Tuesday night. Sometime around 3 a.m., the American commandos landed near a small village called Hiimo Gaabo, south of Galkayo and a firefight erupted.

The commandos freed the hostages, and the helicopters took off. By dawn, after morning prayers, the bodies of the nine pirates killed in the raid were brought back to Hiimo Gaabo…

Bravo! Pirates, gangsters, the lawless need to be treated as outside the law. Bring ’em in for trial if you can. But, around Somalia, hardly anyone cares to waste the time on trials except as miniature agitprop shows illuminating what passes for democracy in the region.

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