A suspected al Qaeda operative who was captured in Libya and held aboard an American warship for interrogation has been taken to New York to face charges that he played a role in the bombings of two African embassies in 1998, federal authorities said Monday.
The suspected operative, Abu Anas al-Libi, was whisked off the streets of Tripoli by American commandos earlier this month.
He is one of 21 men indicted in the bombings of the American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. He is among nine in custody. Eight have been killed, including Osama bin Laden; one died awaiting trial, and three are at large.
In a letter to the federal judge handling the embassy bombing cases, the top federal prosecutor in Manhattan, Preet Bharara, said that al-Libi had arrived in New York and was placed under arrest Saturday. The government expects that he will go before a judicial officer Tuesday, Bharara said.
None of what American interrogators might have gleaned from him during their questioning, aboard the USS San Antonio, would be admissible in court. Further questioning by the FBI, after a Miranda warning, would be admissible.
Since the embassy bombings, which killed 223 people, the United States has systematically hunted the men it says are responsible. Al-Libi, 49, was among the top remaining leaders of al Qaeda, and his name was among the first placed on the FBI’s list of most wanted terrorists after the Sept. 11 attacks.
Libya objected to the seizure, but U.S. officials, including Secretary of State John Kerry, said that it complied with American law and that al-Libi was an “appropriate target” for the military.
A federal indictment in New York accuses al-Libi of helping plan the attacks and of conducting surveillance of the embassy and other diplomatic facilities in Nairobi, Kenya. According to testimony at an earlier embassy bombing trial, it was al-Libi, who was in London at the time of the attacks, who first proposed the bombing of foreign embassies in 1993.
Robert Windrem of NBC News contributed to this report.