America's two most elite commando teams have carried a pair of dramatic raids against terrorist targets in two African nations, killing members of the Somali group al-Shabab and capturing a mastermind of the 1998 embassy bombing in Nairobi, Kenya, who has avoided justice for 15 years.
Nazih Abdul-Hamed al-Ruqai, known by his alias Anas al-Liby, was parked outside his house in Tripoli early Saturday following dawn prayers, when personnel in three vehicles encircled him, smashed his car's window and seized his gun before grabbing him and fleeing, al-Liby’s brother Nabih told the Associated Press. The AP identified those involved in the action as members of the U.S. Army's Delta Force unit.
The U.S. government later confirmed the arrest.
"As the result of a U.S. counterterrorism operation, Abu Anas al-Liby is currently lawfully detained by the U.S. military in a secure location outside of Libya," Department of Defense Press Secretary George Little said in a statement. The Pentagon declined to provide further specific information regarding the operation.
The capture ends a 15-year manhunt for the 49-year-old, who was listed on the FBI’s most wanted list. It also opens the way for criminal proceedings against him to take place in the U.S.
Al-Liby was indicted by the Federal Court for the Southern District of New York in 2000 for his alleged role in planning the bombings of the U.S. embassies in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and Nairobi, Kenya on Aug. 7, 1998. The attacks killed 224 civilians and injured 5,000 others.
The U.S. Department of State was offering a $5 million reward for information leading to his arrest.
The Libyan government has asked for "clarifications" from the U.S. on the raid, adding that Libyan nationals should be tried in their own country. It also said it hoped the incident would not affect its strategic relationship with the United States.
SOURCES: Al Jazeera and wire services