October 7, 2013


Why the capture of al Qaeda's Abu Anas al-Libi is a big deal (Peter Weber, 10/07/13, The Week)

On Saturday morning in Tripoli, four vans with tinted windows surrounded the car of suspected al Qaeda leader Nazih Abdul-Hamed al-Ruqai, (better known as Abu Anas al-Libi), smashed his car window, grabbed him, and sped away with one of America's most-wanted terrorist suspects. Al-Libi is now reportedly onboard the USS San Antonio in the Mediterranean, undergoing what's probably going to be a prolonged interrogation.

The failure to capture or (probably) kill Ikrimah is a mixed bag. Al Shabab -- which says it was tipped off about the raid -- gets some bragging rights for fending off the mighty SEAL Team Six, but they also lost as many as seven militants and inflicted zero casualties. It might also be rattling to have the U.S. bring the fight to al Shabab's shrinking territory. But the capture of al-Libi by Army Delta Force commandos is a big deal, for several reasons.

The first reason is that al-Libi "is seen as a potential intelligence gold mine, possessing perhaps two decades of information about al Qaeda, from its early days under Osama bin Laden in Sudan to its more scattered elements today," say Benjamin Weiser and Eric Schmitt in The New York Times. He was indicted in U.S. federal court in 2000 for his suspected role in the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. Al-Libi has a $5 million bounty on his head.

The model the Obama administration hopes to emulate is Ahmed Abdulkadir Warsame, an al Shabab military commander the U.S. captured in the Gulf of Aden in 2011. Warsame was interrogated on a Navy ship for about two months, then read his legal rights; he waived them and started cooperating with the U.S. government. After his interrogation, al-Libi will similarly be handed to a new FBI team, then prosecuted in U.S. federal court, probably in New York.

Posted by at October 7, 2013 6:01 PM

blog comments powered by Disqus