A Libyan who has been held and interrogated for a week aboard a US warship is now in New York awaiting trial on terrorism charges, US officials said Monday.
The al-Qaida suspect, known as Abu Anas al-Liby, has been under federal indictment in New York for more than a decade. He's due to stand trial over whether he helped plan and conduct surveillance for the bombings of US embassies in Africa in 1998.
Preet Bharara, the US attorney for the southern district of New York, confirmed that al-Liby was transferred to law enforcement custody over the weekend. Al-Liby was expected to be arraigned Tuesday, Bharara said.
Al-Libi would be the latest in a string of defendants to face civilian trials under President Barack Obama. Early in his term, he faced criticism for planning to prosecute admitted 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in New York.
Since then, however, the city has hosted the trial of Ahmed Ghailani, who received a life sentence on a terrorism charge in 2011.
Liby, whose full name is Nazih Abdul-Hamed al-Ruqai, could be in court as early as Tuesday, officials said. But there were no new public court filings in his case.
US special operations forces snatched Liby during a raid in Libya on 5 October. Liby's son, Abdullah al-Ruqai, 21, said three masked men brandishing handguns leapt from a white Mercedes van as his father, whose real name is Nazih Abdul-Hamed al-Ruqai, returned in his car from morning prayers at 6.30am on Saturday in the leafy suburb of Noufle'een.
"Just as my father was parking, these cars came from everywhere," he said. "There were three white cars which blocked the street, then came the van, all of them with tinted windows. The van pulled up and 10 men got out; three of them had masks and handguns fitted with silencers."
Since the raid, Liby has been held aboard the USS San Antonio, while the Obama administration decided whether to try him in a military tribunal or civilian court. It was a murky legal ground to which humanitarian organizations last week issued objections: “The prohibition of arbitrary deprivation of liberty and deviations from fundamental principles of fair trial, including the presumption of innocence, are non-derogable,” Amnesty International said in a statement. “Abductions of this nature, followed by interrogations during incommunicado detention, undermine the presumption of innocence.”