An alleged al Qaeda leader accused of bombing US embassies in Africa in 1998 died late Friday night in New York — just 10 days before he was scheduled to stand trial.
Abu Anas al-Libi, a Libyan national charged with plotting the 1998 truck bombings of Kenya's and Tanzania's embassies — which killed 224 people, including 12 Americans — died of complications after a liver surgery three weeks ago, the Associated Press reported. He was set to stand trial on January 12 in New York, where he had been indicted by a grand jury in 2000.
Al-Libi's capture during a US raid in Tripoli in October 2013 was one of the United States' "top finds," according to former US intelligence officer Malcolm Vance. After his capture the 50-year-old, who once had a $5 million bounty on his head, was handed to the FBI following interrogation on board the USS San Antonio. Officials said that his health soon began to deteriorate after he stopped eating and drinking.
Al-Libi, who was believed to be a computer specialist for al Qaeda, allegedly did photographic surveillance of the embassy in Kenya before the attack. He also allegedly ventured to Afghanistan and Pakistan to organize al Qaeda members.
"It was very significant that he came back to Libya to what… appears was a very large broad-scale interlinking of all the al Qaeda organizations in north Africa," Vance told BBC.
But al-Libi's wife insists that he was innocent, and said his arrest had exacerbated his liver condition.
"I accuse the American government of kidnapping, mistreating, and killing an innocent man. He did nothing," his wife, Um Abdullah told the AP. She said that her husband was prematurely sent back to prison after a December surgery, and that on Friday he'd been taken to a hospital and put on a ventilator.
Other Arab leaders and civilians also insisted that his trial would have revealed al-Libi's innocence.
Al-Libi was suffering severely from hepatitis C and liver cancer, his wife and lawyer had told media outlets. His lawyer filed court documents in October that pled for immediate medical attention.
"[He] had been scheduled to have a surgical procedure done designed to hopefully retard the spread of his liver cancer. This procedure was scheduled for Duke Cancer Center the beginning of August," the lawyer wrote. "To date it has not been done. It is now two and one-half months later and he is still waiting — with no explanation whatsoever. This, with all due respect, is inexcusable."
Khalid Al Fawwaz, who was also accused in the attacks, was due to stand trial alongside al-Libi. He pleaded not guilty to conspiracy charges. Egyptian national Adel Abdul Bary admitted in September to helping to plan the attacks, and now faces 25 years in prison.
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