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US military captures suspected al Qaeda leader

US military special forces on Saturday captured Abu Anas al Libi, a suspected high-ranking operative of al Qaeda [JURIST news archive], during a raid conducted in Tripoli, Libya. US authorities allege [press release] that al Libi played a significant role in planning and executing the 1998 bombings of US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, which left more than 200 dead and 1000 injured. Al Libi is also suspected of working with al Qaeda to plot attacks on US forces stationed in Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Somalia, as well as US embassies in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and Nairobi. Reports indicate that US military forces took al Libi to the US today, where a federal grand jury has already returned an indictment [CNN report] against him in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York [official website]. US officials reportedly claim Libyan authorities authorized the raid, but the Libyan government has requested more information about the operation.

Many cases involving al Qaeda operatives are making their way through the US judicial system. In March Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, the son-in-law of Osama Bin Laden, was captured [JURIST report] and thereafter indicted in federal court for plotting to kill Americans. In January the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit vacated the conspiracy conviction [JURIST report] of Ali Hamza Ahmad Suliman Al Bahlul, Osama bin Laden's media secretary. In October 2012 Egyptian-born Muslim cleric Abu Hamza Al Masri pleaded not guilty [JURIST report] to 11 criminal charges. His charges included taking hostages, providing material support to terrorist groups, including al Qaeda, and conspiring to do such acts. He made his first appearance in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York after being extradited from the UK. Osama Bin Laden was killed [JURIST report] by US military personnel in 2011.

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