US Captures Libyan al-Qaeda Chief Abu Anas al-Liby in Tripoli Kidnapping Raid
United States operatives have reportedly captured a leading al-Qaeda militant in Libya and imprisoned him on a Navy vessel, prompting Tripoli to demand an explanation for the “kidnapping of a Libyan citizen.”
On Saturday, American commandos seized 49-year-old Nazih Abdul-Hamed al-Ruqai, aka Abu Anas al-Liby, believed to be one of the last survivors of the pre-9/11 generation of al-Qaeda leaders, and are holding him on the USS San Antonio, according to US officials. Al-Liby, believed to be an early follower of Osama bin Laden, was indicted in New York in 2000 for allegedly conspiring with bin Laden to attack US military forces in Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Somalia, as well as for his alleged role in the 1998 bombing attacks on the American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania which killed 224 people.
There was a $5 million bounty on al-Liby’s head.
The terror suspect is reportedly being interrogated aboard the San Antonio without a lawyer. He will likely be sent to New York to face federal prosecution for the above-mentioned charges.
The Guardian reports Libyan authorities are demanding an explanation from the US for “the kidnapping of a Libyan citizen.”
The US Defense Department released a statement Sunday insisting that al-Liby was “lawfully detained under the law of war” and that the Libyan government was aware of the operation and provided assistance. Al-Liby’s son, Abdullah al-Liby, confirmed to the Guardian that Libyan forces were involved in his father’s abduction.
It is not known whether al-Liby is being humanely treated by his US captors.
During the George W. Bush administration, Washington cooperated with the Muammar Gaddafi regime to send suspected terrorists to Libya for interrogation in a practice known as extraordinary rendition. Sometimes these terror suspects were tortured by the US forces after capture; once rendered to Libya they were often subjected to even worse torture, even execution. Some of the men who survived such ordeals now hold key leadership positions in post-Gaddafi Libya, including the head of the National Guard.
Meanwhile, US Navy SEALs raided a seaside home in Baraawe, Somalia where high-level militants from the Islamist terror group al-Shabaab were living. After encountering fiercer-than-expected resistance, members of SEAL Team Six– the same elite unit that killed al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in Pakistan in 2011– were forced to retreat back to the warship from which they launched the attack.
Following Saturday’s raids, US Defense Secretary John Kerry said “the United States of America will never stop in the effort to hold those accountable who conduct acts of terror.”