“Fox & Friends” host Brian Kilmeade suggested that Navy SEAL Team 6 should not have aborted a mission in Somalia last weekend simply because there were children present.
In an exclusive with NBC News, military officials said Navy SEAL Team 6 arrived on Somali shores Saturday morning to perform an extraction of Al-Shabaab commander Mohamed Abdikadir Mohamed, also known as Ikrima.
Made up of nearly 6,000 militants, Al-Shabaab is the Somalia-based cell of al-Qaeda.
SEALs could see Ikrima through the windows of a Barawe compound. While they attempted to get closer to the target, they spotted children through their scopes. That’s when they withdrew from the mission.
“I think a lot of people thought that was — and it is — an incredible act of just honor for life, especially the little ones,” said Fox co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck on Tuesday.
But Kilmeade argued that Ikrima himself is no stranger to killing children.
“This is something to keep in mind,” Kilmeade countered. “Nobody wants children hurt. However, this is the guy that put a group together to take down a Kenyan shopping mall in an upper class neighborhood where those kids were tortured before they were killed. So if this guy’s next operation kills children of ours or kills innocent children in a neighboring country that happen to not be Islamic extremists, did we make the right decision?”
“Well, the Navy SEALs made the determination,” co-host Steve Doocy pointed out. “They looked in the scope, they saw the guy, but they saw the kids. And apparently the firefight was so hot, they just said, you know, we’re going to have to leave.”
Children weren’t the only factor making the Somalia mission dangerous. The SEAL team of less than two dozen men were potentially up against hundreds of Somalis. Ikrima was heavily guarded, and it is certain that children would have been at the center of danger if they had opened fire.
Once they returned to the beach, command decided the prize was not worth risking casualties to civilians or SEALs and would not allow the team to go back in.
“After the past few years and the bin Laden raid, everyone thinks these operations are easy — they’re not,” one senior military official familiar with the operation told NBC. “The area doesn’t have the same support network for us as Afghanistan and Iraq.”
One official said the SEALs were “amazed” no one was killed or injured during the operation.