September 27th, 2012
10:01 AM ET

EXCLUSIVE: Senior al Qaeda figure 'living in Libyan capital'

By Tim Lister and Paul Cruickshank

A veteran al Qaeda operative indicted in connection with the bombings of two U.S. embassies in East Africa is alive and well in Libya, according to Western intelligence sources.

Image of al-Libi from the FBI poster seeking information to help in his capture

Abu Anas al Libi, 48, has been seen in the capital, Tripoli, the sources say, and there is concern that he may have been tasked with establishing an al Qaeda network in Libya.  It's unclear whether Libya's government is aware of his presence, or whether it has been approached by Western governments seeking al Libi's arrest.

One Libyan official told CNN he didn't know whether al Libi was back in Tripoli but was aware that he had been in Afghanistan.

Counterterrorism analysts tell CNN that al Libi may not have been apprehended because of the delicate security situation in much of Libya, where former jihadists - especially those who once belonged to the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group - hold considerable sway.  He is wanted in the United States, but there is no extradition treaty between the U.S. and Libya.

Alternatively, al Libi may have dropped off the radar screen, as have several jihadist leaders in Libya - some of whom have previously been associated with al Qaeda.

Just when al Libi returned home is unclear. According to one intelligence source, he appears to have arrived in Tripoli in the spring of last year, amid Libya's civil war.   According to this source, a Western intelligence agency had placed al Libi under surveillance and had taken photographs of him. But back in December 2010, before the outbreak of unrest, Libyan authorities told the United Nations al Qaeda Sanctions Committee that al Libi had returned, even providing a Tripoli street address for him.

Whether he is still active in jihadist circles is unclear.

In August, a report prepared by the U.S. Federal Research Division for the Library of Congress said that while al Libi's whereabouts were unknown, he was "most likely involved in al Qaeda strategic planning and coordination between AQSL (al Qaeda Senior Leadership) and Libyan Islamist militants who adhere to al Qaeda's ideology."

Intel quickly saw signs of al Qaeda links in consulate attack

Whatever his current activities, al Libi's return to Libya is likely to heighten concern about the growing role of jihadist groups there after the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi. CNN has been told of no evidence linking al Libi to the attack.

In the 1990s, al Libi was regarded as one of al Qaeda's most capable operatives - an expert in surveillance and computers. His role within the organization came to light through testimony from a fellow al Qaeda operative who described al Libi's visit to the Kenyan capital of Nairobi in 1993.  He is alleged to have conducted surveillance of possible Western targets, including the U.S. Embassy.

Five years later, on August 7, 1998, al Qaeda attacked the U.S. embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam, killing more than 200 people. In 2001, al Libi was indicted in U.S. federal court for his alleged role in the attacks. U.S. authorities offered $5 million for information leading to his apprehension or conviction.  But by then, he was on the run.

Al Libi's real name is Nazih Abd al Hamid al Ruqhay. He joined al Qaeda soon after its founding, when the group was building a presence in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Much of what is publicly known about his role in al Qaeda during the 1990s comes from the testimony of L'houssaine Kherchtou, a Moroccan al Qaeda operative who knew al Libi.

Kherchtou told a federal court in 2001 that al Libi had impressed other al Qaeda operatives with his mastery of computers. And when Osama bin Laden relocated to Khartoum in Sudan in 1992, al Libi followed. It was at about this time that bin Laden began to think of attacking U.S. targets, because of the deployment of U.S. peacemakers to Somalia.

After his surveillance trip to Nairobi, al Libi left al Qaeda because the regime of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi was pressuring the Sudanese government to expel about 20 Libyans involved with the group and based in Khartoum. But he joined the jihadist Libyan Islamic Fighters Group before moving to Qatar and then Britain.

He settled in Manchester before a police raid on his home in 2000.

That raid was in response to intelligence suggesting that al Libi might have links to international terrorism, according to sources familiar with the investigation. It uncovered a document that became known as the "Manchester Manual" - hundreds of pages of guidance on carrying out a terrorist campaign. One of the things the document advocated was "attacking, blasting, and destroying" embassies.

But by the time police launched the raid, al Libi had slipped out of the country, according to intelligence sources.

After leaving Britain, al Libi is thought to have spent some time in Afghanistan, and to have reconnected with al Qaeda, before fleeing to Iran after the fall of the Taliban. Western intelligence sources say they believed he remained in Iran for almost a decade before returning to Libya.

Al Libi is not the only al Qaeda operative back in Libya, nor even the only the one who lived in Manchester in the late 1990s.

As CNN has previously reported, in the spring of 2011, onetime Manchester resident Abdulbasit Azuz was dispatched from the Afghanistan-Pakistan region by al Qaeda leader Ayman al Zawahiri to establish a foothold for al Qaeda in Libya. Azuz based himself in Derna in eastern Libya, where he began to recruit fighters, according to counterterrorism sources.  In June, a senior Libyan official told CNN that Azuz was one of five radical Islamist militant commanders who were operating in the Derna area, with 200 to 300 men under their command in camps in the area.

Dead, captured and wanted

Some of those camps have since been abandoned, in part because of growing resentment among local people and in part out of fear that they might be targeted by the United States.  CNN reported in June that U.S. surveillance drones had been flying over the region, citing Libyan sources.
The Obama administration has thus far downplayed suggestions that al Qaeda "central" had any role in planning or ordering the Benghazi attack. But U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton suggested Wednesday that al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb was using its greater freedom of movement in Mali to extend its influence throughout North Africa.

Speaking at the United Nations, she said that "with a larger safe haven and increased freedom to maneuver, terrorists are seeking to extend their reach and their networks in multiple directions."

"And they are working with other violent extremists to undermine the democratic transitions under way in North Africa, as we tragically saw in Benghazi," she added.

Some analysts say it is too early to discount the possibility that the al Qaeda leadership had some advance knowledge of the attack, pointing to a video released the day before the attack in which al Qaeda leader al Zawahiri called on Libyans to attack Americans.

The possible significance of al Zawahiri's message was highlighted in a letter Wednesday from four Republican U.S. senators to Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.  Criticizing her assertion that the attack was spontaneous rather than planned, Republican Sens. John McCain of Arizona, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin said there was "a significant network of al Qaeda affiliated groups and other terrorists in eastern Libya."

soundoff (268 Responses)
  1. Lasik Phoenix

    I was extremely pleased to find this page. I need to to thank you for ones time for this particularly fantastic read!! I definitely liked every part of it and I have you bookmarked to see new information on your web site.

    https://www.export.org.au/Redirect.aspx?destination=https://arizonasvision.com/

    May 15, 2021 at 1:02 am | Reply
  2. rv parts close to me

    http://digital.fijitimes.com/api/gateway.aspx?f=https://ocrvcenter.org/

    May 15, 2021 at 1:00 am | Reply
  3. telugu movies in california

    This blog was... how do I say it? Relevant!! Finally I have found something that helped me. Cheers!

    http://manoeksportas.vz.lt/invitePage.do?id=309782144&url=https://ocrvshop.com

    May 14, 2021 at 5:16 pm | Reply
  4. property for sale near me

    The next time I read a blog, Hopefully it won't fail me as much as this one. I mean, I know it was my choice to read through, however I really believed you would probably have something interesting to say. All I hear is a bunch of moaning about something that you can fix if you weren't too busy looking for attention.

    https://cdn.embedded.com/common/jumplink.php?target=http://meganleary.com/

    May 14, 2021 at 5:04 pm | Reply
  5. realtor spirit lake id

    http://valdaveto.net/redirect.php?link=meganleary.com/

    May 14, 2021 at 4:07 pm | Reply
  6. houses for sale bayview idaho

    https://partner.pccomponentes.com/servlet/effi.redir?id_compteur=13404640&url=https://meganleary.com/

    May 14, 2021 at 3:36 pm | Reply
  7. house for sale hayden lake

    http://newsletter.traveldocs.com/t.aspx?S=28&ID=0&NL=274&N=1895&SI=0&URL=https://meganleary.com

    May 14, 2021 at 3:12 pm | Reply
  8. houses for sale near me now

    Way cool! Some very valid points! I appreciate you penning this post and the rest of the website is very good.

    http://www.filmmakers.de/misc/redirect?url=http://meganleary.com

    May 14, 2021 at 3:09 pm | Reply
  9. Sprinter Van Rooftop A/C Leak Repair

    I need to to thank you for this very good read!! I absolutely loved every bit of it. I have you saved as a favorite to check out new things you post…

    http://services.nfpa.org/Authentication/GetSSOSession.aspx?return=https://commercialvanrepairshop.com/sprinter-van-maintenance-shop-near-me

    May 14, 2021 at 1:36 pm | Reply
  10. rv entertainment system upgrade

    &t=Thank+you+for+your+submission

    May 14, 2021 at 1:16 pm | Reply
  11. RV Shades California

    http://www.gabrielaroldan.com.ar/wp/libro/go.php?url=http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCCWA5o3d2u11KvEjA3wLVUA/videos

    May 14, 2021 at 11:41 am | Reply
  12. RV Remodel Los Angeles

    Hi there! I simply want to give you a huge thumbs up for the great information you have right here on this post. I'll be returning to your website for more soon.

    http://www.schoolhouseteachers.com/dap/a/?p=http://g.page/ocrvcenter

    May 14, 2021 at 3:37 am | Reply
  13. travel trailer inspection near me

    http://citidex.sfgov.org/cgi-bin/sunindex/getData.cgi?docColor=deptsonly&dispRec=yes&contact=TedYamasaki&phone=(415)557-4815&url=www.youtube.com/watch?v=B22mt-byN0M

    May 14, 2021 at 12:46 am | Reply
  14. Sprinter Diesel Repair

    Oh my goodness! Awesome article dude! Thank you, However I am experiencing troubles with your RSS. I don’t understand the reason why I cannot subscribe to it. Is there anyone else getting similar RSS problems? Anyone who knows the answer will you kindly respond? Thanks!!

    https://moad.dipujaen.es/index.html?redireccion=https://commercialvanrepairshop.com/box-truck-upgrades-shop-near-me

    May 13, 2021 at 10:25 pm | Reply
  15. rv roof repair near me

    Everything is very open with a really clear explanation of the challenges. It was definitely informative. Your site is very helpful. Many thanks for sharing!

    http://my.migrationpolicy.org/salsa/track.jsp?url=https://ocrv.rocks/rv-repair-shop-buena-park-california

    May 13, 2021 at 6:39 pm | Reply
  16. leather repair orange county

    After exploring a number of the blog posts on your website, I seriously like your technique of writing a blog. I saved as a favorite it to my bookmark website list and will be checking back soon. Take a look at my web site as well and tell me how you feel.

    https://eao.rtrs.ru/go/?q=https://ocrvcenter.info/rv-repair-shop-ontario-california

    May 13, 2021 at 5:37 pm | Reply
  17. RV Dashboard Los Angeles

    I wanted to thank you for this fantastic read!! I certainly enjoyed every little bit of it. I have got you bookmarked to look at new things you post…

    https://www.networksolutions-sucks.info/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=www.yelp.com/biz/ocrv-center-anaheim-2

    May 13, 2021 at 2:24 pm | Reply
  18. RV Restoration Orange County

    This blog was... how do I say it? Relevant!! Finally I've found something that helped me. Appreciate it!

    https://skinmatrix.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=www.youtube.com/channel/UCGb9aC76nAmfzNsCru2KBHA/videos

    May 13, 2021 at 2:16 pm | Reply
  19. motorhome service near me

    I’m impressed, I have to admit. Seldom do I come across a blog that’s both equally educative and amusing, and let me tell you, you have hit the nail on the head. The problem is something which too few folks are speaking intelligently about. I'm very happy that I stumbled across this during my search for something concerning this.

    http://azlan.techdata.com/InTouch/GUIBnrT3/BnrTrackerPublic.aspx?CountryCode=18&BannerLangCulture=nl-nl&URL=https://ocrv.rocks/rv-windshield-repair-near-me

    May 13, 2021 at 1:03 pm | Reply
  20. semi truck ac repair near me

    It’s hard to come by well-informed people about this topic, but you seem like you know what you’re talking about! Thanks

    http://balder.messe.de/werbung/www/delivery/ck.php?ct=1&oaparams=2__bannerid=1512__zoneid=697__cb=18dc65fbad__oadest=https://ocrv.me/rv-repair-shop-sylmar-california

    May 13, 2021 at 12:23 pm | Reply
  21. RV Remodel Near Me

    http://www.pohoroni.info/redirect.php?url=http://www.instagram.com/ocrvcenter

    May 13, 2021 at 9:12 am | Reply
1 2 3

Leave a Reply to Native USA


 

CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.