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  • Apr 21, 2014
  • Updated: 12:32am
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SECURITY

Libya anger over 'kidnapping' by US of al-Qaeda suspect Abu Anas al-Liby

Washington asked to explain swoop in Tripoli that captured alleged embassy bomber, as Navy SEALs storm al-Shabab stronghold in Somalia

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 06 October, 2013, 11:46am
UPDATED : Monday, 07 October, 2013, 4:54am

Libya demanded an explanation from Washington yesterday for the "kidnap" of one of its citizens after an unauthorised commando raid on its territory that netted a top al-Qaeda suspect.

Nazih al-Ragye, better known by the cover name Abu Anas al-Liby, was seized by US forces in the Libyan capital Tripoli on Saturday, the Pentagon said.

At the same time, a Navy SEAL team raided the Somali port of Barawe, a stronghold of the al-Shabab movement behind last month's attack on a Kenyan mall, but failed to take their target.

"The Libyan government has been following the reports of the kidnap of one of the Libyan citizens wanted by the authorities in the United States," a government statement said.

"As soon as it heard the reports, the Libyan government contacted the US authorities to demand an explanation."

The government underlined its "desire to see Libyan citizens tried in their own country, whatever the accusations levelled against them".

It recalled Libya and the US were bound by a "strategic partnership" that dealt with security and defence matters. "The government hopes this strategic partnership will not be damaged by this incident," it said.

Liby, believed to be 49, was on the FBI's "most wanted" list with a US$5 million reward.

He was indicted by the US for his alleged role in the bombings of the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998, which killed 224 people.

"As the result of a US counterterrorism operation, Abu Anas al-Liby is lawfully detained by the US military in a secure location outside of Libya," said Pentagon spokesman George Little.

After the US raids in Libya and Somalia, US Secretary of State John Kerry warned al-Qaeda they "can run, but they can't hide".

He said in Indonesia ahead of the Apec summit: "We hope this makes clear that the United States of America will never stop in its effort to hold those accountable who conduct acts of terror."

Liby was arrested at dawn in Tripoli as he was heading home after morning prayers. One of his neighbours said: "I saw a group of cars coming quickly from the direction of where [Liby] lives. They kidnapped him."

The Pentagon confirmed US military personnel had been involved in an operation against what it called "a known al-Shabab terrorist" in Somalia, but gave no more details.

People living in Barawe and Somali security officials said troops came ashore from the Indian Ocean to attack a house near the shore used by al-Shabab fighters.

A US official said the al-Shabab leader targeted in the raid was neither captured nor killed.

US officials did not identify the target. They said US forces, trying to avoid civilian casualties, disengaged after inflicting some al-Shabab casualties.

They said no US personnel were wounded or killed in the operation.

A Somali intelligence official said the target of the raid at Barawe, 180 kilometres south of Mogadishu, was a Chechen commander, who was wounded and his guard killed. Police said seven people in total were killed.

The New York Times quoted an unnamed US security official as saying that the Barawe raid was planned over a week ago in response to the al-Shabab assault on a Nairobi shopping mall last month in which 67 died.

It quoted a Somali government official as saying the government "was pre-informed about the attack".

Agence France-Presse, Reuters

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