The Tripoli government said that al-Libi, as a Libyan national, should be tried in his own country. He is on the FBI’s most-wanted list of terrorists with a $5 million bounty on his head. He was indicted by the U.S. in November 1998.
Secretary of State John Kerry said Monday that the operation complied with U.S. law and called Libyan complaints unfounded.
Kerry said al-Libi was a “legal and appropriate target” for the U.S. military and will face justice in a court of law. “I think it’s important for people in the world not to sympathize with alleged terrorists but to underscore the importance of the rule of law,” he added.
“The United States of America is going to do anything in its power that is legal and appropriate in order to enforce the law and to protect our security,” Kerry told reporters after meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on the sidelines of an Asia-Pacific economic conference.
In a statement, Libya also said it hoped the incident would not affect its strategic relationship with the U.S., which is evolving in the aftermath of the 2011 ouster of longtime ruler Moammar Gadhafi. Ties were complicated by the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on U.S. diplomatic facilities in Benghazi, in eastern Libya.
Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., a vocal advocate of placing captured high-value terrorist suspects in the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, said Sunday that al-Libi should be treated as an enemy combatant, detained in military custody “and interrogated to gather information that will prevent future attacks and help locate other al-Qaida terrorists.”
Al-Libi was indicted by a federal court in New York for his alleged role in the bombings of the U.S. Embassies in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and Nairobi, Kenya, on Aug. 7, 1998, that killed more than 220 people.
It was not immediately clear whether al-Libi had been involved with al-Qaida since or had been connected to militant activities in Libya, where al-Qaida has a growing presence since Gadhafi was unseated.
The family of al-Libi denied he was ever a member of al-Qaida and said he was not involved in militant activity since his return.
In a 157-page indictment filed in the Southern District of New York in November 1998, the U.S. government accused al-Libi and others of conspiring to kill American civilians and military members at the embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.
Specifically, prosecutors said al-Libi helped bin Laden and al-Qaida plan the attacks on the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi by scouting and photographing the site in 1993. The indictment also alleges al-Libi discussed other attacks on the U.S. Agency for International Development as well as British, French and Israeli targets in Kenya.
The court filing does not charge al-Libi in the bombing and deaths of those at the embassies, but rather says he conspired to achieve that result.