Kerry defends US capture of alleged Al-Qaeda operative in Libya

Mr Abdullah al-Raghie (left) and Mr Abdul Moheman al-Raghie (second left), the sons of al-Qaeda suspect Abu Anas al-Libi, point at the house next to the scene where their father was kidnapped by US special forces in a commando raid in Nofliene, 5km f
Mr Abdullah al-Raghie (left) and Mr Abdul Moheman al-Raghie (second left), the sons of al-Qaeda suspect Abu Anas al-Libi, point at the house next to the scene where their father was kidnapped by US special forces in a commando raid in Nofliene, 5km from the Libyan capital Tripoli on Sunday, Oct 6, 2013. Secretary of State John Kerry on Monday, Oct 7, 2013, insisted the capture of an alleged Al-Qaeda operative in Libya in a US raid was legal, after Tripoli demanded answers about the kidnap. -- PHOTO: AFP

NUSA DUA, Indonesia (AFP) - Secretary of State John Kerry on Monday insisted the capture of an alleged Al-Qaeda operative in Libya in a US raid was legal, after Tripoli demanded answers about the "kidnap".

Abu Anas al-Libi, who was indicted in connection with the 1998 bombings of US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania and has a US$5 million (S$6.2 million) FBI bounty on his head, was captured on Saturday.

It was one of two US raids at the weekend, with US Navy Seals also storming a Shebab stronghold in the southern Somali port of Barawe, although the success of that assault was unclear.

The operation to capture Libi drew fury from the Libyan government, which said it was unauthorised and described it as a "kidnap".

But Mr Kerry on Monday defended the operation as within the law.

"With respect to Abu Anas al-Libi, he is a key Al-Qaeda figure, and he is a legal and an appropriate target for the US military," Mr Kerry told reporters on the sidelines of an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Indonesia.

He added that Libi had committed "acts of terror" and had been "appropriately indicted by courts of law, by the legal process".

"The United States of America is going to do everything in its power that is legal and appropriate in order to enforce the law and protect our security," he said.

But when asked whether the United States had informed Libya before the raid, Mr Kerry refused to say.

"We don't get into the specifics of our communications with a foreign government on any kind of operation of this kind," he said.

His defence of the operation came after Libya on Sunday demanded an explanation from Washington for the "kidnap".

Libi, 49, had been indicted in the US federal court in New York for allegedly playing a key role in the east Africa bombings - which left more than 200 dead - and plots to attack US forces.

The Tripoli operation ended a 13-year manhunt for Libi, whose given name is Nazih Abdul Hamed al-Raghie. FBI and CIA agents assisted US troops in the raid, US media reported.

His arrest paves the way for his extradition to New York to face trial.