Tripoli (AFP) – U.S. President Barack Obama said Tuesday an alleged Al-Qaeda operative snatched by U.S. commandos in Libya was involved in plots that killed hundreds of people and will be brought to justice.
Obama was speaking just hours after Libya demanded Washington “immediately” hand back Abu Anas al-Libi, claiming his capture was a flagrant violation of the country’s sovereignty.
Vowing that America will continue to hunt down regional terror groups, Obama told reporters that Libi “helped plan and execute plots that killed hundreds of people, a whole lot of Americans. We have strong evidence of that. And he will be brought to justice.”
Libya is bristling after the U.S. commandos snatched Libi, a Libyan citizen, from his car on a Tripoli street in broad daylight on Saturday.
The government summoned the U.S. ambassador and Prime Minister Ali Zeidan insisted all Libyans should be tried on home soil.
The case has embarrassed the Libyan government and put it under pressure from its critics — notably former rebel groups in the 2011 revolt that ousted dictator Moamer Kadhafi.
The General National Congress stressed “the need for the immediate surrender” of Libi, and described the U.S. operation as a “flagrant violation” of Libya’s sovereignty.
The text also called for the “need to allow the Libyan authorities and their families to get in touch with him (Libi) and guarantee them access to a lawyer.”
It was the first official statement from Libya that clearly condemned the operation.
Libi — whose real name is Nazih Abdul Hamed al-Raghie — was on the FBI’s most wanted list with a $5 million (3.7 million euro) bounty on his head for his alleged role in the 1998 twin bombings of two US embassies in East Africa.
He is reportedly being held aboard a U.S. naval ship in the Mediterranean.
The justice minister summoned U.S. ambassador Deborah Jones to answer questions about the operation.
“Salah al-Marghani summoned the ambassador of the United States on Monday morning to ask for answers to several questions relating to the case” of Libi’s capture, his ministry said.
Marghani and foreign ministry officials met members of Libi’s family, who were told of the meeting with Jones.
Zeidan said that, while he valued Tripoli’s “important” relationship with Washington, Libyans should not be tried abroad.