Libya said it had demanded an explanation from Washington yesterday for the “kidnap” of a citizen in an unauthorized commando raid on its territory that netted a top al-Qaeda suspect.
“The Libyan government has been following the reports of the kidnap of one of the Libyan citizens wanted by the authorities in the United States,” a government statement said.
“As soon as it heard the reports, the Libyan government contacted the US authorities to demand an explanation,” it added.
The government underlined its “desire to see Libyan citizens tried in their own country, whatever the accusations leveled against them.”
It said that Libya and the US were bound by a “strategic partnership” that dealt with security and defense matters in particular.
“The government hopes that this strategic partnership will not be damaged by this incident,” it said.
US special forces seized Abu Anas al-Libi in a commando raid in broad daylight on Saturday, sealing a 15-year manhunt for the top al-Qaeda suspect.
A source close to Libi said he was snatched by armed men in Tripoli.
Libi, who was on the FBI’s most wanted list with a US$5 million reward, was indicted in US federal court in New York for allegedly playing a key role in 1998 bombings of US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.
“As the result of a US counterterrorism operation, Abu Anas al-Libi is currently lawfully detained by the US military in a secure location outside of Libya,” Pentagon spokesman George Little said in a statement.
A separate raid in the southern Somalian port of Barawe failed to capture a senior al-Shabaab militant and it was unclear whether he had been killed, but a US official said several al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabaab members had been slain.
The raid was reportedly “prompted” by the deadly militant siege on a Nairobi shopping mall last month.
“We hope that this makes clear that the United States of America will never stop in its effort to hold those accountable who conduct acts of terror,” US Secretary of State John Kerry said yesterday, speaking from the Indonesian island of Bali.
The action should also make clear that “those members of al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations literally can run, but they can’t hide,” Kerry said.
A US official said the operation in Somalia sought to capture a “high-value” al-Shabaab leader and that no US personnel were injured or killed.
The operation marked the most significant US assault in Somalia since commandos killed key al-Qaeda operative Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan in the same area four years ago.
“US personnel took all necessary precautions to avoid civilian casualties in this operation and disengaged after inflicting some al-Shabaab casualties,” the official said.
Al-Shabaab spokesman Abdulaziz Abu Musab said that commandos had stormed the beach by boat, but blamed Britain and Turkey.
“The bungled operation was carried out by white people, who came with two small boats from a larger ship out at sea ... one al-Shabaab guard was killed, but reinforcements soon came and the foreigners fled,” he said.