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Africa

US captures most-wanted Libyan al Qaeda leader

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-10-07

The man captured by US special forces in Libya on Saturday is believed to be an al Qaeda leader, computer specialist and former anti-Gaddafi activist wanted by the United States for his role in the 1998 bombings of two US embassies in East Africa.

The al Qaeda leader captured by US special forces in Libya on Saturday has been wanted by the United States for more than 15 years for his alleged links to the twin 1998 US embassy bombings in East Africa.

FRANCE 24's Foreign Editor Robert Parsons on the arrest

Nazih Abdul-Hamed al Ruqai, alias Anas al Libi, had a $5 million bounty on his head for his alleged role in the August 7, 1998, bombings of the US embassies in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and Nairobi, Kenya, which killed more than 220 people.

He was also on the FBI’s most-wanted list, introduced shortly after the September 11 attacks of 2001.

Libi is believed to have returned to Libya during the 2011 civil war that led to the ouster and death of former leader Muammar Gaddafi.

Libya said on Sunday that it had asked the United States for "clarification'' regarding Libi's capture.

Believed to be a computer specialist with al Qaeda, Libi graduated from Tripoli University with a degree in electronics and nuclear engineering. He was also an activist opposed to Gaddafi.

He is believed to have spent time in Sudan, where Osama bin Laden was based in the early 1990s. After bin Laden was forced to leave Sudan, Libi traveled to Britain in 1995, where he was granted political asylum and lived in Manchester. Arrested by Scotland Yard in 1999, he was released due to lack of evidence and later fled Britain.

In 2007, Human Rights Watch said it believed he was among about two dozen people who may have once been held in secret CIA prisons, but it had no reports on his subsequent whereabouts.

Libi’s family is thought to have returned to Libya a year before the revolt against Gaddafi, under an initiative – established by Gaddafi’s son, Saif al Islam – intended to seek reconciliation with militants who renounced violence. Libi’s son was reportedly killed during the civil war that resulted in Gaddafi's ouster. The rest of his family lives in an affluent neighbourhood of Tripoli.

(FRANCE 24 with wires)

 

Date created : 2013-10-06

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