Libya's interim government is seeking answers after U.S. special forces over the weekend captured al Qaeda operative Abu Anas al-Libi in Tripoli, calling the operation a "kidnapping of a Libyan citizen."
The U.S. calls al-Libi as "one of the world's most wanted terrorists," and officials defended the U.S.' authority for Saturday's raid by Army Delta Forces into Tripoli.
A Pentagon said Sunday it was "acting under military authorities" to apprehend al-Libi, who is being "lawfully detained under the law of war.
"Abu Anas al-Libi was designated as a global terrorist by executive order, was a subject of the U.S. Rewards for Justice Program, and is on the U.N. al Qaeda sanctions list. He was also indicted for his alleged role in the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in Africa, and other plots to conduct attacks against U.S. interests," the Pentagon said.
From Indonesia where he is attending a regional summit, Secretary of State John F. Kerry said al-Libi is a "legal and an appropriate target for the U.S. military under the Authorization of the Use of Military Force" enacted in September 2001.
Libyan authorities called the raid "news," indicating they did not know about the raid before it happened. The U.S. and Libya have no status of forces agreement that would allow U.S. military operations on Libyan soil.
"Since the news came about, the Libyan government has established communications with American authorities, requesting clarification about this matter," Prime Minister Ali Zeidan said, adding that he hopes the U.S.-Libya "strategic partnership" would not be endangered by the incident.
Al-Libi is being held on a Navy ship in the Mediterranean and could be transported to southern New York, where he has been indicted in connection with his alleged role in the 1998 attacks on the U.S. Embassies in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and Nairobi, Kenya, as well as for al Qaeda plots to attack U.S. forces stationed in Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Somalia.
"He will now have an opportunity to defend himself and to be appropriately brought to justice in a court of law. And I think it's important for people in the world not to sympathize with alleged terrorists but to underscore the importance of rule of law," Mr. Kerry said.
However, Mr. Zeidan said that Libyan nationals should be tried in Libya "whatever their charges were." Libyan ministries are following up with U.S. authorities regarding al-Libi's treatment and rights, he said.
The Pentagon said the operation was approved by President Obama, and was made possible by "superb work and coordination across our national security agencies and the intelligence community." It did not mention cooperation by Libyan forces.
"The Government reminds that Libya has strategic relationship with United States of America in field such as security, defense, building capacity of the Libyan forces and providing training to Libyan national army," the Libyan statement said.
"Those programs were part of a framework of support provided by all of our bilateral, regional and international partners. They were also continuation to the support presented by the U.S. to Libya during its February 17th Revolution, subsequent to the U.N.'s Security Council Resolutions to protect Libya and build its institutions."
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