The Pentagon issued a news release today stating that purported al Qaeda member Abu Anas al Libi has been captured, but Libyan officials say their citizen was kidnapped by the US. Anas al Libi is the prime suspect in two US embassy bombings and today he has been detained by the US Department of Defense. The capture of this man, whose real name is Nazih Abdul-Hamed Nabih al-Ruqai’, is the result of two US military raids launched on Saturday, Oct. 5. The raids were conducted in Libya and Somalia simultaneously, and al Libi was located in Libya. The Department of Defense is not releasing any information concerning the Somalia raid as of yet, except to say that the operation was initiated to extract a “high value” al Qaeda-linked suspect from the area. According to a senior US military official, the raid in Somalia was carried out by SEAL Team Six, the same team responsible for the discovery of Osama bin Laden in 2011.
In a statement released by the Pentagon early this morning, the Department of Defense reiterated that the detainee has been wanted by the US government for more than 10 years, and has carried a $5 million reward on his head during that time. The Pentagon believes strongly that the suspect they now have in custody was a key player in the attacks on US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998. The federal indictment of Anas al Libi purports that he planned both attacks carefully and had further plans to attack other foreign buildings in Nairobi that were housing US citizens.
US Secretary of State John Kerry commented on the raids from Indonesia, where he is currently traveling:
“I want to thank and congratulate the quality and courage of those young Americans who took part in [the] operations. We hope that this makes clear that the United States of America will never stop in its effort to hold those accountable who conduct acts of terror.”
As relieved as American officials are to have Anas al Libi in custody, the Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zeidan says that the Libyan citizen was kidnapped. Family members of the detainee spoke to members of the Associated Press and explained that Abu Anas Al Libi was overpowered by several “commandos” with guns while he was outside his own home, parking his car. The suspect’s brother, Nabih, stated that the gunmen traveled in a three-car convoy and smashed Anas al Libi’s car window before taking the suspect’s gun. Nabih also said that his brother’s wife saw her husband being kidnapped from a window in their home.
The Pentagon denies it kidnapped the Libyan citizen and maintains that Anas al Libi is being held lawfully “in a secure location outside of Libya.” Prime Minister Ali Zeidan insists that the US must explain its actions and be held accountable.
Written by Mandy Gardner
US Department of Defense – News Release
Washington Post -Pentagon: US military captures an al-Qaida leader in Libya linked to 1998 US Embassy bombings