2011, 8 weeks around May-June: SBS conducted covert surveillance around Somali coastline and at a number of ports subject to piracy. (Sun)
February: UK Attorney General Dominic Grieve declared that a proposed plan to launch commando raids and Apache gunship attack missions from HMS Ocean against pirates and al-Shabab forces in Somalia would be legal under international law (2,3). This plan was apparently put on the back burner. (Sun)
March: Up to 60 SAS soldiers were working with Kenyan forces to target al-Qaeda forces in Somalia and to secure Kenya’s border. The British unit included two four- strong teams of Forward Air Controllers (FAC). They work by gathering intelligence on al-Shabeb targets inside Somalian territory. Once a target is pinpointed, its position is fed back to fixed-wing aircraft, helicopters or drones. A missile can then be fired on the target using a laser as a guide.
Chairman of the Commons counter terrorism sub-committee Patrick Mercer claimed that ‘there have been a series of incursions into Somalia by British troops’, further adding that “Our Special Forces wield a considerable amount of power in the region. There is no doubt we are involved in the war against al-Shabaab.” (Star)
October: Al-Shabaab militants claimed that British and Turkish special forces had carried out a raid on a coastal town which killed a rebel fighter, but that a British officer had also been killed and others wounded. An MOD spokesman claimed, ‘we are not aware of any British involvement in this at all’. (Reuters, Telegraph)
April: It was reported that the SAS had a 10-strong team in Somalia which was involved in “regular skirmishes” with al-Shabaab and was also training Somali soldiers. ‘The Who Dares Wins unit is based in a remote camp north of the capital Mogadishu. It has been working with US Delta Force directing air strikes against the insurgents by American jets based in Djibouti’. (Star)
May: The British government said that it had 27 military personnel in Somalia who were involved in training mission to counter al-Shabaab. (Question for MOD)
February: A report on US special operations in Kenya’s Boni National Reserve, right on the border with Somalia claimed that UKSF had provided intelligence for the operations. (Daily Beast)