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Suspected Al-Qaeda leader dies in US just days ahead of trial

He was accused of being involved in the bombings of US embassies in Africa in 1998.

A courtroom sketch of Abu Anas al-Libi in October 2013.
A courtroom sketch of Abu Anas al-Libi in October 2013.
Image: AP/Press Association Images

A LIBYAN ACCUSED over the 1998 Al-Qaeda bombings of US embassies in Africa died on Friday, days before he was to stand trial in New York, his lawyer and family have confirmed.

Abu Anas al-Libi (50) was on the FBI’s most-wanted list with a $5 million price on his head when he was captured by US troops in the Libyan capital Tripoli in October 2013.

He and Saudi businessman Khalid al-Fawwaz were due to stand trial next Monday, 12 January, over the attacks on the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania that killed 224 people and wounded around 5,000.

Libi, a computer expert, died at a hospital in the New York area on Friday, his lawyer Bernard Kleinman told The Washington Post, saying the health of his client — who had advanced liver cancer — had deteriorated significantly in the last month.

Libi and Fawwaz both previously pleaded not guilty to conspiracy charges.

A third suspect, Egyptian Adel Abdel Bary, last year pleaded guilty to playing a role in the 1998 attacks.

Libi’s son Abdel Mouin told CNN by telephone from Tripoli early on Saturday that his father had been in a coma before his death and that the family holds the US government “fully responsible” for his demise.

Libi, who also suffered from Hepatitis C, was detained by US commandos on 5 October, 2013, and interrogated on board a US warship before being handed over to FBI agents a week later and flown to New York.

Hunger strike

He was questioned by the agents on board the flight, initially waiving his right to a lawyer, during which he made an incriminating statement.

But Libi had sought to supress the statement in court, saying he was on hunger strike at the time, raising questions about the extent to which he was cognizant when he waived his rights.

Investigators told the court Libi had informed them of the hunger strike during the flight, but that he had been hooked up to an IV and under medical supervision.

He was responsive, understood his rights, knowingly waived them and spoke willingly, and at no point appeared confused, investigator George Corey said.

In an indictment, prosecutors accused Libi of discussing in 1993 possible attacks against the US embassy in Nairobi, and of carrying out surveillance of the diplomatic mission.

In or around 1994, the indictment said, he received files concerning possible attacks against the embassy, the US Agency for International Development, and British, French and Israeli targets in Nairobi.

However, defense lawyer Kleinman says Libi was innocent and had cut his ties with Al-Qaeda before the 1998 attacks.

The United States faced criticism after the raid in which Libi was captured as he was parking his car in Tripoli, with Libya denouncing it as a kidnapping and rights groups accusing Washingon of violating his fundamental human rights.

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