The man targeted by US special forces in Somalia had plotted to attack Kenya's parliament and the United Nations headquarters in Nairobi, according to an intelligence report.
The pre-dawn, coastal SEAL raid on Saturday targeted Abdulkadir Mohamed Abdulkadir, who is also known as Ikrima, a US official told the Associated Press news agency. He is believed to have escaped unharmed.
An internal report by Kenya's National Intelligence Service listed Abdulkadir as the planner of a plot sanctioned by al-Qaida's core leadership in Pakistan to carry out multiple attacks in Kenya in late 2011 and early 2012 with the Islamic extremists al-Shabab group.
The report lists Samantha Lewthwaite - known as the "White Widow" - as one of several "key actors" in the plot to attack parliament buildings, the UN Office, Kenyan Defence Forces camps and other targets. The plotters also intended to assassinate top Kenyan political and security officials.
Police disrupted that plot. Lewthwaite, who was married to one of the suicide bombers in the 2005 London bombings, escaped capture when she produced a fraudulently obtained South African passport in another person's name.
The National Intelligence Service report, in an entry dated exactly one year before the September 21 attack on the Nairobi Westgate shopping mall, said al-Shabab operatives were in Nairobi "and are planning to mount suicide attacks on undisclosed date, targeting Westgate Mall and Holy Family Basilica." Two suspects were believed in possession of suicide vests, grenades and AK-47 assault rifles.
The internal document shows that Kenyan intelligence officers have detailed information about plots and individuals tasked with carrying them out, and that the spy handlers face a continuous threat. Other targeted sites included the Hilton Hotel, the Yaya shopping mall, the office of the prime minister, and possibly the embassies of the United States - which was blown up by al-Qaida in 1998 - and of Britain and Israel.
The SEAL raid in Somalia was only one of two anti-terror missions by US forces in Africa over the weekend. In Libya on Saturday, the army's Delta Force captured Nazih Abdul-Hamed al-Ruqai, known by his alias Anas al-Libi, an al-Qaida leader linked to the 1998 American Embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania.
That raid prompted a warning from a group of Libyan Islamic extremists who vowed to avenge al-Libi's capture. "The Revolutionaries of Benghazi, al-Bayda and Darna" denounced the kidnapping, saying "this shameful act will cost the Libyan government a lot."
The cities of Benghazi, Bayda and Darna are strongholds of Islamic extremists who are carrying out political assassinations targeting political activists, judges and members of security agencies.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry defended the capture of al-Libi, saying complaints about the operation from Libya and others were unfounded. He said the suspect was a "legal and appropriate target" and will face justice in a court of law.