Evidence grows that Libyan government had prior knowledge of raid

Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zeidan signals that relations with Washington will continue as usual.

By REUTERS
October 9, 2013 18:30
3 minute read.
Libyan  Prime Minister Ali Zeidan.

Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zeidan 370. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Public protests came from Libya on Tuesday in response to the raid on Saturday that captured Nazih al-Ragye, a senior al-Qaida figure better known by the cover name Abu Anas al-Liby, is being held aboard a US Navy ship in the Mediterranean Sea where he was questioned by an elite American interrogation team.

Libya’s Justice Minister, Salah Al-Marghani summoned US ambassador Deborah Jones on Monday seeking an explanation.

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Libyan lawmaker, Monem Alyasser, chairman of the Libyan General National Congress (GNC) told the London based daily Ahsarq Al-Awsat that the raid was “unacceptable.”

Some Libyan officials denied having prior knowledge of the raid, but a Libyan official speaking on the condition of anonymity told the paper that an agency in the Libyan government was involved in the operation.

“This is an agency that is capable of assisting the US forces in carrying out this precision operation, providing comprehensive intelligence, capturing the abductee, and moving quickly,” he said.

This confirms a report by Liby’s son that the people who took his father looked Libyan and had Libyan accents.

The official went on to state that some ministers knew about the operation and the reason behind cooperating with the Americans was to  build trust.



However, publicly the government criticized the raid, perhaps to deflect the angst of angry Islamists, according to the report.

The New York Times quoted an unidentified senior US official who seemed to confirm part of the Libyan official’s claim, who said the Libyan government had given tacit approval for the operation weeks or months ago, but was not informed of the details of the raid itself.

Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zeidan said that Libya is a base for arms smuggling in the region and that international help is required to stop it, according to an interview he gave to the BBC.

"The movement of these weapons endangers neighboring countries too, so there must be international co-operation to stop it," he said.

Libya has fallen into chaos since the Western military intervention in 2011 and the subsequent toppling of former leader Muammar Qaddafi, with competing militias, tribes, and terrorist groups fighting for control.

Zeidan said earlier on Tuesday that Libyans accused of crimes should be tried at home, but that the raid would not harm ties with Washington.

Militant groups angered over Saturday's raid, including one blamed for the 2012 attack on the US consulate in Benghazi, took to networking sites to call for revenge assaults on strategic targets including gas pipelines and ships. They also called for the kidnappings of Americans in the capital.

Three Republican US senators said on Tuesday that Liby - a suspect in the 1998 bombings of US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania that killed 224 civilians - should be brought to the US detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. But the Obama administration was not likely to transfer him there.

One US official said Liby might face prosecution in a federal court in New York, where he is under criminal indictment.

Obama said Liby had killed "a whole lot of Americans" and that the US government had strong evidence against him and he would be "brought to justice." But he offered no details on how the case would be handled.

Meanwhile, some Republican congressmen are pushing for him and other captured terrorists to be held and interrogated at the Guantanamo detention center.

"Putting him on a Navy vessel for a matter of days or weeks is not a proper way to gather intelligence in the war on terror. This system of using Navy warships in lieu of Gitmo compromises our ability to gather intelligence," said Graham, a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

The call to bring Liby to Guantanamo comes as Obama pushes to close the detention center, where hundreds of suspects have been held for years without trial.


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