Terrorist's UK past in spotlight

Terror suspect Abu Anas al-Libi is reported to be in military custody aboard the USS San Antonio.
Terror suspect Abu Anas al-Libi is reported to be in military custody aboard the USS San Antonio.

British MPs are to question the Home Secretary, Theresa May, over why one of the world's most wanted al-Qaeda terror suspects, captured by US special forces on Sunday, was previously given political asylum and allowed to live in Britain.

Abu Anas al-Libi, a trusted lieutenant of Osama bin Laden and once al-Qaeda's chief computer expert, was snatched in a US Delta Force operation in the Libyan capital, Tripoli.

The New York Times reported al-Libi was being interrogated while in military custody on board the USS San Antonio in the Mediterranean Sea. He is expected to eventually be sent to New York for prosecution.

Terror suspect Abu Anas al-Libi is reported to be in military custody aboard the USS San Antonio.
Terror suspect Abu Anas al-Libi is reported to be in military custody aboard the USS San Antonio.

Al-Libi, whose real name is Nazih Abdul-Hamed al-Ruqai, was given asylum in Britain in 1995. It is alleged he helped plan attacks on the US Embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, in 1998 in which 224 people were killed.

According to a former FBI official he was taken in for questioning by police in Manchester after the bombings but was released and fled the country.

When his house in the city was finally raided by police, they discovered a 180-page al-Qaeda manual on methods of carrying out terror attacks and assassinations.

Yesterday it was revealed al-Libi had been hiding "in plain sight" in Tripoli despite a US$5million ($6million) bounty on his head. He is thought to have returned to Libya as the uprising against Colonel Muammar Gaddafi began in 2011.

His son, Abdullah al-Ruqai, described the Delta Force snatch, saying it included men speaking Libyan dialect Arabic among the squad - suggesting a degree of co-operation with local authorities which they later denied. "Four vehicles stopped by his car, in front of the house, and 10 masked and unmasked men came out, broke the car window on the steering wheel side, drugged him, and took him," he said.

"He was kidnapped in front of the house, not inside. If he had been kidnapped inside the house we would not have let them take him without a fight."

Questions will now be asked as to how he came to be given political asylum in Britain, despite his known involvement in a Libyan terrorist organisation and a long previous association with bin Laden, and how he was able to flee the country. Keith Vaz, chairman of the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee, said al-Libi's case would be raised with the Home Secretary when she appeared before MPs tomorrow. "We will want to examine very carefully whether the proper checks were made."

Libya said it has asked the US for "clarifications" regarding the capture. Tripoli said that al-Libi should be tried in Libya.

Meanwhile, US special forces failed during a mission in Somalia to capture what Washington called a "high value target" suspected of links to Kenya's Westgate terrorist attack. But two senior foreign fighters - a Swedish Somali and a Sudanese national - were reportedly killed and a third man, also from Sudan, was injured, sources in Somalia said.

It was unclear yesterday whether one of the dead may have been the intended target. But the Sudanese man killed, Awab al-Uqba or Sheikh Abdirahim, was said to be a trainer for al-Shabaab's intelligence arm, Amniyat, which United Nations investigators call its "secret service" unit.

- AP

- Daily Telegraph UK

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