TRIPOLI, Libya >> Gunmen in a three-car convoy seized an al-Qaeda leader connected to the 1998 embassy bombings in eastern Africa and wanted by the U.S. for more than a decade outside his house today in the Libyan capital, his relatives said.
His capture, if confirmed, would be the latest blow to al-Qaida, which has seen its leadership consistently targeted since the death of Osama bin Laden.
Nazih Abdul-Hamed al-Ruqai, known by his alias Anas al-Libi, is believed to have returned to Libya during the 2011 civil war that led to the ouster and killing of dictator Moammar Gadhafi.
His brother, Nabih, said the 49-year-old was parking outside his house early today after dawn prayers, when three vehicles encircled him, smashed the car’s window and seized his gun before grabbing him and fleeing. The brother said el-Libi’s wife saw the kidnapping from her window and described the abductors as foreign-looking armed “commandos.”
Al-Libi is on the FBI’s most-wanted list with a $ 5 million bounty on his head. He was indicted in the Southern District of New York, for his alleged involvement in the bombings of the U.S. Embassies in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and Nairobi, Kenya, on Aug. 7, 1998.
Libyan officials didn’t return calls seeking comment on al-Libi’s abduction and the U.S. issued no immediate statements. His brother said he failed to contact authorities over the matter.
Al-Libi, who was granted political asylum in Britain, was believed to be a computer specialist with al-Qaida. He studied electronic and nuclear engineering, graduating from Tripoli University.
His family returned to Libya a year before the revolt against Gadhafi, under an initiative by Gadhafi’s son Seif al-Islam who sought to reconcile with militants who renounce violence, a close friend said, refusing to identify himself because of security concerns.
The friend said al-Libi’s son was killed during the civil war as rebels marched on the capital, ousting Gadhafi. His son’s name is scribbled as a graffiti on the walls of the street where his family resides, in an affluent neighborhood in Tripoli.