A top al Qaeda leader whom U.S. forces dramatically snatched from his car in Libya last year can face trial in New York, a federal judge says.
In a 15-page ruling filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, Judge Lewis A. Kaplan late Thursday rejected Abu Anas al-Libi's argument that he was illegally kidnapped and interrogated for seven days aboard a Navy ship after members of an Army Delta Force swooped into his property in Tripoli and pulled him from his car in October.
Al-Libi — who is believed to be 50 and who court records show insists that his real name is Nazih Abdul Hamed al-Ruqai — is accused of planning the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, in which 224 people were killed. He had been wanted for more than a decade and had a $25 million reward on his head.
Lawyers for al-Libi, who has pleaded not guilty, asked Kaplan to dismiss the charges because of his "forcible abduction" and the "inhumane treatment" they said he suffered under questioning by U.S. interrogators who specialize in so-called high-value targets.
But Kaplan disagreed that al-Libi's interrogation violated U.N. and other international human rights treaties.
While the U.S. ratified the U.N. Charter, "nothing suggests that it was intended to be enforceable in federal courts," Kaplan wrote.
In a sweeping joint indictment (PDF) of al-Libi and a dozen other top al Qaeda officials — including Osama bin Laden — prosecutors also allege that as early as 1994, al-Libi plotted attacks against the U.S. Agency for International Development office and other international targets in Nairobi, Kenya.
In 2002, there were reports that he had been killed in Afghanistan or arrested by the Sudanese government, but U.S. officials denied those reports.
First published May 23 2014, 8:28 PM
M. Alex Johnson
M. Alex Johnson is a senior writer for NBC News covering general news, with an emphasis on explanatory journalism and data analysis. Johnson joined NBCNews.com in January 2000 from The Washington Post, where he was news editor of washingtonpost.com and night city editor of the print edition. He has also worked at the Knight-Ridder Washington bureau, Congressional Quarterly and The Charlotte Observer, where he was part of a team that won the 1987 Pulitzer Gold Medal for Public Service. He is a member of the National Press Club, Investigative Reporters and Editors and the Online News Association.
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