Abu Anas al-Libi Q&A: will al-Qaeda suspect survive trial?
Chances of terror suspect making it through trial are 'very thin' without a liver transplant warns doctor
CONCERNS have been raised about the health of al-Qaeda suspect Abu Anas al-Libi, who was seized in Libya by US special forces earlier this month. He is being held in the US, where he is on hunger strike and suffering from complications caused by hepatitis C, an infection of the liver. One doctor has even suggested that he may have just weeks or months to live if he is not given a liver transplant.
So, what do we know about Libi?
The US believes Libi, whose real name is Nazih Abdulhamad al-Ruqaie, was involved in the bombing of two US embassies in Nairobi and Dar es-Salaam in 1998, which killed 224 people. He was born in Libya in 1964. While little is known about his early life, he is believed to have gone to Afghanistan in the 1980s to fight the Soviet occupation. According to the Washington Post, he used his advanced computer skills to rise to the top of al-Qaeda in the 1990s. In 1993 he allegedly carried out the reconnaissance mission – gathering information and taking photographs – for the first big attack in the terrorist network's history: the twin bombings of the US embassies in east Africa, which took place five years later in 1998.
What did he do next?
Before the attacks took place Libi won political asylum in the UK and moved to Manchester in 1995. He was arrested in 1999 on suspicion of terrorism but was released, and fled the UK. Agents searching his apartment later found a 180-page guide issued to al-Qaeda fighters – a blueprint of the terrorist cell's philosophy which also included tactical guidance. Libi was placed on the FBI's Most Wanted list, with a $5m bounty on his head. He apparently went from the UK to Afghanistan and then on to Iran following the 9/11 attacks. He was imprisoned in Iran for a number of years before returning in 2011 to Libya, where the Washington Post claims he was tasked with establishing an al-Qaeda network.
How was he arrested?
After 14 years on the run, Libi was seized in a dawn raid outside his family home in Tripoli on 5 October. He was returning home from morning prayers when special operations Delta Force marines spirited him away. According to the New York Times, he was interrogated by specialists from US agencies including the FBI and CIA on a US Navy ship on the Mediterranean Sea. Due to his poor health and refusal to eat or drink, he was brought to New York earlier than planned and has twice appeared in a federal court, pleading not guilty to terrorism charges.
What is the political impact of his arrest?
Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zidan claims he was not informed that the US planned to detain one of his citizens but his Islamist opponents are trying to use the capture to oust him. They are pressing the Libyan government to find out whether anyone gave the Obama administration the nod to seize Libi.
What are Libi's family saying?
Libi's family told the Daily Telegraph he was innocent and had been working in a pizza restaurant while in Britain, not masterminding international terror attacks. His son, Abdullah al-Ruqaie, claims Libi was forced to leave Britain because of "police harassment". The family went with him to Afghanistan but al-Ruqaie insists his father went to "help the oppressed", not to carry out work for al-Qaeda. The family admit that Libi was close to Osama bin Laden, but insist he was in his security detail, not a "terror planner", and that he cut his ties with al-Qaeda years before the embassy bombings.
How ill is he?
According to his family, Libi contracted hepatitis C while imprisoned in Iran. The virus is said to be far advanced, causing complications including cirrhosis of the liver, an enlarged spleen, blackouts and a highly fragile immune system. With terror trials tending to be prolonged, the cost of his medical treatment to the US taxpayers is likely to be high, says the Daily Beast. Dr James Le Fanu, a British physician and medical author, told the news site that it sounded as if Libi had only weeks or months to live without a liver transplant and that his chances of making it to the end of the trial without the operation are "very thin". ·