October 8, 2013 3:46:56 am
An accused operative for al-Qaeda seized by United States commandos in Libya over the weekend is being interrogated while in military custody on a Navy ship in the Mediterranean Sea,officials said on Sunday. He is expected eventually to be sent to New York for criminal prosecution.
The fugitive,known as Abu Anas al-Liby,is seen as a potential intelligence goldmine,possessing perhaps two decades of information about al-Qaeda,from its early days under Osama bin Laden in Sudan to its more scattered elements today.
The decision to hold Abu Anas and question him for intelligence purposes without a lawyer present follows a pattern used successfully by the Obama administration with other terrorist suspects,most prominently in the case of Ahmed Abdulkadir Warsame,a former military commander with the Somali terrorist group Shabaab.
Warsame was captured in 2011 by the American military in the Gulf of Aden and interrogated aboard a Navy ship for about two months without being advised of his rights or provided a lawyer.
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After a break of several days,Warsame was advised of his rights,waived them,was questioned for about a week by law enforcement agents and was then sent to Manhattan for prosecution.
Warsame is the model for this guy, one American security official said.
Warsame later pleaded guilty and has been co-operating with the government,providing intelligence information about his co-conspirators,who included high-level international terrorist operatives,federal prosecutors have said in court papers.
Abu Anas is being held aboard the USS San Antonio,a vessel brought in specifically for this mission,officials said.
Abu Anas,49,born Nazih Abdul-Hamed al-Ruqai,was indicted in Manhattan in 2000 on charges of conspiring with bin Laden in plots to attack US forces in Saudi Arabia,Yemen and Somalia,as well as in the 1998 bombings of the US embassies in Nairobi,Kenya,and Dar es Salaam,Tanzania,which killed 224 people.
He has been described as a Qaeda computer expert and helped conduct surveillance of Nairobi embassy,according to evidence in trials from the bombings. In investigating the attacks,the authorities recovered a Qaeda terrorism manual in Abu Anass residence in Manchester,England.
The Defence Department,in a statement Sunday,said Abu Anas was currently lawfully detained under the law of war in a secure location outside of Libya.
Wherever possible, the statement said,our first priority is and always has been to apprehend terrorist suspects,and preserve the opportunity to elicit valuable intelligence that can help us protect the American people.
BENJAMIN WEISER & ERIC SCHMITT
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