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Saturday, June 22, 2024 | Back issues
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Abu Anas al-Libi Dies Ahead of Terror Trial

MANHATTAN (CN) - An accused terrorist succumbed to terminal liver cancer, just weeks ahead of a trial over his alleged role in the bombing of two U.S. Embassies, family confirmed to wire services over the weekend.

Nazih Abdul Hamed al Ruqai, better known by his nom de guerre Abu Anas al-Libi, was suspected of having scouted the targets for two U.S. embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania that killed 224 people and wounded thousands in 1998.

After U.S. Delta Force operatives finally snatched al-Libi from a car outside his home in Tripoli, Libya, on Oct. 5, 2013, he faced interrogation aboard a Navy warship on the way to New York for prosecution.

In November, U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan refused to rethink the plan to try al-Libi alongside alleged co-conspirator Khalid al-Fawwaz on Jan. 12, 2015, because of al-Libi's medical issues.

Al-Libi appeared at one hearing via a video feed from a medical center in North Carolina, and he was rushed out of court another time after clutching his arm and wincing in pain.

If al-Libi's condition is "both incurable and terminal," a further delay "may deprive entirely the public of a trial of al Liby on these charges, the magnitude and seriousness of which cannot be overstated," Kaplan wrote.

Late last month, federal prosecutors submitted a blockbuster brief about letters that ostensibly linked al-Libi and bin Laden, undermining the Libyan's central defense that he had no knowledge that al-Qaida was targeting the United States during his self-described brief association with the group.

CNN reported that the Justice Department wrote Judge Kaplan a letter that that said al-Libi "was taken from the Metropolitan Correctional Center to a New York hospital due to sudden complications arising out of his long-standing medical problems."

A filing with the court on Saturday said al-Libi died the evening prior after his poor health suddenly worsened.

"We understand that, in addition to his counsel, an Imam was with [al Libi] at the hospital and that appropriate arrangements are being made with his family," the letter said, according to CNN.

Al-Libi's son, Abdel Mouin, told CNN that in addition to liver cancer, his father suffered from advanced hepatitis C and had been in a hospital in a coma.

The family holds the U.S. government "fully responsible" for what happened to the man they call al-Ruqaii, Mouin said, according to CNN.

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