U.S. officials say American forces have captured an al-Qaida leader facing federal charges for the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.
Officials say the suspect, known as Abu Anas el-Liby
, was captured alive Saturday near Tripoli in a joint operation by a U.S. military force and intelligence operatives.
The accounts of U.S. involvement came a short while after relatives of Abu Anas said the 49-year-old suspect had been kidnapped in the Libyan capital.
The Associated Press quoted the suspect's brother as saying Abu Anas was abducted while parking his car outside his house early Saturday after dawn prayers. He said three cars encircled the suspect, smashed his car window and disarmed him before fleeing with him.
The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation had offered a $5 million bounty for information leading to Abu Anas' capture, after a federal court in New York indicted him in 2000 for planning the embassy attacks.
More than 250 people were killed and thousands wounded in the Nairobi and Dar es Salaam blasts on August 7, 1998.
A United States Navy SEAL team has targeted a senior leader of the al-Qaida-linked militant group al- Shabab in a daring predawn raid in Barawe, Somalia.
U.S. Defense Department officials say the commandos conducted an operation "aimed at capturing a high value al-Shabab terrorist leader," but they failed to capture him.
Sources told VOA a top al-Qaida militant working with al-Shabab was the target of the attack, but did not name him.
Several al-Shabab militants were killed in the firefight but it was not clear if the targeted militant was among them. U.S. officials said no American troops were hurt.
The raid was in response to an attack on a shopping mall two weeks ago in neighboring Kenya. Al-Shabab, a militant Islamist group, has claimed responsibility for the action, which killed at least 67 people.
The mission, first reported by The New York Times
, marks the boldest strike on Somali soil since U.S. commandos killed Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan, an al-Qaida mastermind, near the same town four years ago.
Witnesses in the al-Shabab controlled town of Barawe told VOA Somali foreign forces attacked the militant safe house around 2:30 a.m. Saturday.
They report some of the soldiers descended from helicopters while others may have arrived on boats.
Al-Shabab spokesman Abdulaziz Abu Musab confirmed the incident in a recorded statement.
“Last night a group of fighters docked at Barawe sea port and stormed at one of the safe house occupied by some of our fighters,” he said. “Our fighters saw these troops, fighting broke out and we repelled them.”
Musab said one militant was killed in the attack, and compared the raid to a failed attempt by French special forces to free a hostage in the town of Bula Marer in January. At least one French soldier was killed in that operation.
Under pressure from regional military forces, al-Shabab has been driven out of major cities in Somalia, but it still controls towns and territory, mostly in the south central regions.
The Islamist group has claimed responsibility for a four-day attack on the Westgate shopping mall in Kenya’s capital Nairobi last month that killed more than 60 people.
Kenya's military spokesman on Saturday named four men — including a Sudanese, a Kenyan Arab and a Somali — took part in the attack, giving their names as Abu Baara al-Sudani, Omar Nabhan, Khattab al-Kene and Umayr.
Al-Shabab’s leaders said the attack was retaliation for Kenya’s ongoing military operations targeting the group in southern Somalia.
Al-Shabab has vowed to carry out other acts of violence against Kenya, unless Kenya withdraws its forces from Somalia.
Kenyan forces entered Somalia two years ago to help battle the militant group, which has been fighting to turn Somalia into a strict Islamic state.
VOA correspondent Gabe Joselow contributed to this report from Nairobi. Some information for this report was provided by Reuters.