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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.