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Question of the Day
According to the federal indictment of al-Libi in a New York court, American prosecutors say he helped the African embassy bombings by scouting and photographing the embassy in Nairobi in 1993. Al-Libi was a computer expert who studied electronic and nuclear engineering at Tripoli University.
Al-Libi’s son Abdullah al-Ruqai told The Associated Press his father was a member of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, an Islamic militant group that waged a campaign of violence against Gadhafi’s regime in the 1990s. Many of the group’s members — including al-Libi — were forced to flee the country at the time. A faction of the group allied with al Qaeda, though others in the group refused to.
Al-Libi is believed to have spent time in Sudan in the 1990s, when bin Laden was based there. In 1995, al-Libi later turned up in Britain, where he was granted political asylum under unclear circumstances and lived in Manchester. He was arrested by Scotland Yard in 1999 but was released because of lack of evidence and later fled Britain.
Abdullah al-Ruqai said the family then went to Afghanistan, where they spent a year and a half until they fled to Iran, where they were held in custody for seven years. Abdullah al-Ruqai did not elaborate, but Iran jailed a number of al-Qaeda-linked figures who fled Afghanistan after the 2001 U.S.-led invasion of that country.
The family returned to Tripoli in 2010 under a rehabilitation program for Islamic militants run by Gadhafi’s son, and al-Libi himself returned in August 2011, amid the uprising that toppled Gadhafi. Since then, al-Libi was not involved with any groups.
“He would go from the house to the mosque, and from the mosque to the house,” Abdullah al-Ruaqi said. He said his father had hired a lawyer and was trying to clear his name in connection to the 1998 embassy attacks.
In the earlier raid Saturday in Somalia, the Navy SEAL team targeted a figure from the al-Qaeda-linked terrorist group al-Shabab. After landing onshore, the team assaulted a beachside house in the town of Barawe and assaulted a house. The team ran into fiercer resistance than expected, and after a 15- to 20-minute firefight in which they inflicted some casualties on the fighters, the unit’s leader decided to abort the mission and the Americans swam away, a U.S officials said. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the raid publicly.
Mr. Little confirmed that U.S. military personnel were involved in a counterterrorism operation against a known al-Shabab terrorist in Somalia, but he did not provide details.
The leader of al-Shabab, Mukhtar Abu Zubeyr, also known as Ahmed Godane, claimed responsibility for the mall attack in Nairobi, Kenya, a four-day terrorist siege that began Sept. 21 and killed at least 67 people. A Somali intelligence official said the al-Shabab leader was the U.S. target.
The raid in Somalia came 20 years after the “Black Hawk Down” battle in Mogadishu, when a mission to capture Somali warlords in the capital went awry after militiamen shot down two U.S. helicopters. Eighteen U.S. soldiers died in the battle, which marked the beginning of the end of that U.S. military mission to try to bring stability to the nation.
Since then, U.S. military intervention has been limited to missile attacks and lightning operations by special forces.
• Tony G. Gabriel reported from Cairo and Esam Mohamed from Tripoli. Associated Press writers Matthew Lee in Bali, Indonesia; Kimberly Dozier in Charlotte, N.C.; Robert Burns in Washington; and Lee Keath in Cairo contributed to this report.
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