Secretary of State John Kerry defended the capture of alleged al Qaeda militant, Abu Anas al-Libi, in Libya in a raid by U.S. forces on Saturday, after Libya demanded an explanation from Washington for the “kidnap” of a Libyan citizen in an unauthorized assault inside its sovereign territory.
Nazih Abdul-Hamed al-Ruqai, 49, better known by his alias Abu Anas al-Libi, was indicted in a U.S. federal court in New York in 2000, over the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya that killed more than 220 people. The FBI, which included him in its list of wanted terrorists published soon after the terror attacks in the U.S. on Sept.11, 2001, had offered a $5 million reward for his capture.
“With respect to Abu Anas al-Libi, he is a key al Qaeda figure, and he is a legal and an appropriate target for the U.S. military,” Kerry told reporters on Monday on the sidelines of an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Indonesia, according to Agence France-Presse.
He said al-Libi had been “appropriately indicted by courts of law, by the legal process,” for committing “acts of terror,” adding: “The United States of America is going to do everything in its power that is legal and appropriate in order to enforce the law and protect our security.”
However, when asked whether the government in Tripoli had been informed about the U.S. raid, Kerry said: “We don't get into the specifics of our communications with a foreign government on any kind of operation of this kind.”
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Al-Libi was captured in a quick assault orchestrated by a U.S. Delta Force unit on the streets of Tripoli, a few hours after U.S. Navy SEALs staged an overnight assault on a key base of Somali militant group al-Shabab, in the coastal town of Barawe, about 210 kilometers (130 miles) south of Somali capital Mogadishu.
The Navy SEAL team, however, failed to nab its target, a key figure in al Qaeda-linked al-Shabab who was responsible for the deadly attack on the Westgate shopping mall in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, on Sept. 21.
Al-Libi’s son, Abdullah al-Raghie, said, citing surveillance camera footage, that Libyans were among the masked gunmen who captured his father, AFP reported.