Libya’s interim government on Sunday demanded an explanation from Washington for what it called the “kidnapping” of a Libyan suspect.

TRIPOLI, Libya — A day after American commandos carried out raids in two African countries aimed at capturing fugitive terrorist suspects,TRIPOLI, Libya — A day after American commandos carried out raids in two African countries aimed at capturing fugitive terrorist suspects, Libya’s interim government on Sunday demanded an explanation from Washington for what it called the “kidnapping” of a Libyan suspect. In the capital, Tripoli, Libyan civilians and political officials reacted with surprise and confusion.
On Saturday, American troops assisted by F.B.I. and C.I.A. agents seized Nazih Abdul-Hamed al-Ruqai, known by his nom de guerre, Abu Anas al-Liby, a suspected leader of Al Qaeda, on the streets of Tripoli. At around the same time, a Navy SEAL team raided the seaside villa of a militant leader in a predawn firefight on the coast of Somalia.
Abu Anas was indicted in 2000 for his role in the 1998 bombings of the United States Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania and had a $5 million bounty on his head.
“It was a good thing,” said a businessman in Tripoli who asked to be identified only by his given name, Hassan, referring to the capture of Abu Anas. “These men are the main reason we are facing issues like this, and they should be taken out of the country. Even my friends were happy to clean the country of those terrorists.”

Abu Anas al-Liby
Libyan officials and members of Parliament said they could not comment on the raid because they did not know all the facts.
Other Libyans said they were angered that the raid had caught their government by surprise and that foreign troops were conducting military operations in their country. They also expressed concern that Islamists would retaliate, perhaps by attacking the American Embassy here, and that the Americans would strike back, leading to an escalation in violence.
In Somalia, the SEAL team emerged before sunrise from the Indian Ocean and exchanged gunfire with militants at the home of a senior leader of the Shabab, a Somali militant group. The raid was planned more than a week ago, officials said, after a massacre by the Shabab at a shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya, that killed more than 60 people two weeks ago.
The SEAL team was forced to withdraw before it could confirm that it had killed the Shabab leader, a senior American security official said. Officials declined to identify the target.
The United States Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya, on Aug. 8, 1998, after a bomb blast. Abu Anas al-Liby was indicted in the attack.
Officials said the timing of the two raids was coincidental. But occurring on the same day, they underscored the rise of northern Africa as a haven for international terrorists. Libya has collapsed into the control of a patchwork of militias since the ouster of the Qaddafi government in 2011. Somalia, the birthplace of the Shabab, has lacked an effective central government for more than two decades.
With President Obama locked in a standoff with Congressional Republicans and his leadership criticized for a policy reversal in Syria, the raids could fuel accusations among his critics that the administration was eager for a showy foreign-policy victory.
Describing Abu Anas as “one of the world’s most wanted terrorists,” Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced that he was “was captured and is now in U.S. custody.”
While the details about his capture were sketchy, an American official said on Saturday night that it appeared that he had been taken peacefully and that he was “no longer in Libya.”
His capture was the latest blow to what remains of the original Qaeda organization after a 12-year American campaign to capture or kill its leadership, including the killing two years ago of its founder, Osama bin Laden, in Pakistan.
But on Sunday, Libya’s government called for more information regarding the American operation.
“As soon as it heard the reports, the Libyan government contacted the United States authorities to demand an explanation” for “the kidnapping of a Libyan citizen,” the government said in a statement.
The demand appeared to contradict the statements of American officials on Saturday that the Libyan government had played some role in the seizure of Abu Anas.
His capture signaled a significant break with Washington’s previous reluctance to send American Special Operations forces into Libya to detain wanted terrorists or suspects in the deadly attack on the diplomatic mission in Benghazi in 2012. The United States government had refrained from such interventions for fear of setting off a backlash that could destabilize or overwhelm Libya’s fledgling transitional government, which is still struggling to muster a viable national police force or military.
But American officials have now apparently run out of patience, potentially signaling a new willingness to try to apprehend suspects in the Benghazi attack, as well.
Islamists in Benghazi, where false rumors of an imminent American raid have been frequent, said anyone who might feel threatened by such a raid had gone into hiding or prepared themselves after reports of the Tripoli operation. “Of course people are worried about it in Benghazi,” Sheik Mohamed Abu Sidra, an influential Islamist leader there, said in an interview on Sunday.
By noon, calls had begun for street protests against the raid or against the interim government for allowing it. Many Libyan Islamists already accuse their interim prime minister, Ali Zeidan, who previously lived in Geneva as part of the exiled opposition to Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, of collaborating too closely with the West.
But on social media, some Libyans, fearful of the influence Al Qaeda or other militants might have in their country, were sympathetic to the American military action, faulting their own interim authorities for failing to apprehend well-known terrorist suspects or otherwise maintain law and order.
Mr. Hagel indicated on Sunday that the United States would not hesitate to take similar action in the future. “We will continue to maintain relentless pressure on terrorist groups that threaten our people or our interests,” he said, in the statement, “and we will conduct direct action against them, if necessary, that is consistent with our laws and our values.”
Despite his presence in Libya, Abu Anas was not believed to have played any role in the attack on the diplomatic mission in Benghazi, senior officials briefed on that investigation have said, but he may have sought to build networks connecting what remains of the Qaeda organization to like-minded militants in Libya.
His brother Nabih told The Associated Press that just after dawn prayers on Saturday, three vehicles full of armed men approached Abu Anas’s home and surrounded him as he parked his car. The men smashed his window, seized his gun and sped away with him, the brother said.
Abu Anas, 49, was born in Tripoli and joined Bin Laden’s organization as early as the early 1990s, when it was based in Sudan. He later moved to Britain, where he was granted political asylum as a Libyan dissident. American prosecutors in New York charged him in a 2000 indictment with helping to conduct “visual and photographic surveillance” of the United States Embassy in Nairobi in 1993 and again in 1995. Prosecutors said in the indictment that Abu Anas had discussed with another senior Qaeda figure the idea of attacking an American target in retaliation for the United States’ peacekeeping operation in Somalia.
After the 1998 bombing, the British police raided his apartment and found an 18-chapter terrorist training manual. Written in Arabic and titled “Military Studies in the Jihad Against the Tyrants,” it included advice on car bombing, torture, sabotage and disguise.
Since the overthrow of Colonel Qaddafi, Tripoli has slid steadily into lawlessness, with no strong central government or police presence. It has become a haven for militants seeking to avoid detection elsewhere, and American government officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss confidential information, have acknowledged in recent months that Abu Anas and other wanted terrorists had been seen moving freely around the capital.
The operation to capture Abu Anas was several weeks in the making, a United States official said, and Mr. Obama was briefed regularly as the suspect was tracked in Tripoli. Mr. Obama had to approve the capture. He had often promised that there would be no “boots on the ground” in Libya when the United States intervened there in March 2011, so the decision to send in Special Operations forces was a risky one.
American officials said they would be questioning Abu Anas for several weeks. But they did not dispute that New York, where an indictment is pending against him, was most likely his ultimate destination. Mr. Obama has been loath to add to the prisoner count at the American military prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and there is precedent for delivering those suspected of terrorism to New York if they are under indictment there.
The operation will do nothing to quell the continuing questions about the events in Benghazi 13 months ago that led to the deaths of four Americans. But officials say the operation was a product of the decision after Benghazi to bolster the counterterrorism effort in Libya, especially as Tripoli became a haven for Qaeda leadership.
The capture of Abu Anas also coincided with a fierce gunfight that killed 15 Libyan soldiers at a checkpoint in a neighborhood southeast of Tripoli, near the traditional home of Abu Anas’s clan.
A spokesman for the Libyan Army general staff, Col. Ali Sheikhi, said five cars full of armed men in masks pulled up at the army checkpoint at 6:15 a.m. and opened fire at point-blank range. It was not clear if the assault at the checkpoint was related to the capture of Abu Anas or his removal from Libya.
Secretary of State John Kerry, who is representing Mr. Obama at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit meeting on the Indonesian island of Bali, thanked the American military personnel who carried out the raids.
“We hope that this makes clear that the United States of America will never stop in its effort to hold those accountable who conduct acts of terror, and those members of Al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations literally can run but they can’t hide,” he said on Sunday while visiting the port village of Benoa. “We will continue to try to bring people to justice in an appropriate way with the hopes that ultimately, these kinds of activities against everybody in the world will stop.”
The raid in Somalia was the most significant by American troops in that lawless country since commandos killed Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan, a Qaeda mastermind, near the same coastal town four years ago. The town, Baraawe, a small port south of Mogadishu, is known as a gathering place for the Shabab’s foreign fighters.
Witnesses described a firefight lasting more than an hour, with helicopters called in for air support. A senior Somali government official who spoke on the condition of anonymity said, “The attack was carried out by the American forces, and the Somali government was pre-informed.”
A spokesman for the Shabab said that one of its fighters had been killed in an exchange of gunfire but that the group had beaten back the assault. American officials initially reported that they had seized the Shabab leader, but later backed off that account.
A United States official said that no Americans had been killed or wounded and that the Americans “disengaged after inflicting some Shabab casualties.”
“We are not in a position to identify those casualties,” the official said. Though Mr. Hagel acknowledged the Somalia operation in a statement on Sunday, he did not describe its outcome.
Asked about the raid, Somalia’s prime minister said on Sunday that his government was working with international partners and neighboring states to combat the Shabab, Reuters reported. “We have collaboration with the world and with neighboring countries in the battle against Al Shabab,” Prime Minister Abdi Farah Shirdon Saaid said.
The F.B.I. sent dozens of agents to Nairobi, the Kenyan capital, after the siege of the Westgate shopping mall two weeks ago to help the Kenyan authorities with the investigation. United States officials fear that the Shabab could attempt a similar attack on American soil, perhaps employing Somali-Americans.
A witness in Baraawe said the house was known as a place where senior foreign commanders stayed. He could not say whether they were there when the attack began, but he added that 12 well-trained Shabab fighters scheduled for a mission abroad were staying there at the time of the assault.
It was not clear what role, if any, the target of the American assault had played in the attack on the Nairobi mall. One United States official said it was still unclear whether any Americans had been involved in the Westgate siege, though several Kenyan officials said they now believed that there had been as few as four attackers — far fewer than the 10 to 15 the government previously reported.
A spokesman for the Kenyan military said on Saturday that it had identified four of the attackers from surveillance footage as Abu Baara al-Sudani, Omar Nabhan, Khattab al-Kene and a man known only as Umayr.
The spokesman, Maj. Emmanuel Chirchir, said none of the militants had escaped the mall. “They’re all dead,” he said.
The footage, broadcast on Kenyan television Friday night, showed four attackers moving about the mall with cool nonchalance.
At least one of the four men, Mr. Nabhan, was Kenyan, officials said, and believed to be a younger relative of Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan, the Qaeda operative killed four years ago near Baraawe, the site of Saturday’s raid.
The elder Mr. Nabhan was a suspect in the bombing of an Israeli hotel on the Kenyan coast in 2002 and the attacks on the American Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998.
Matt Bryden, a former head of the United Nations Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea, said the tactics used in the Westgate attack were similar to those used by the Shabab in a number of operations in Somalia this year. But he also said that local help had been needed to pull off an attack on that scale, and that several of the men identified as taking part in the assault had been connected to the group’s Kenyan affiliate, known as Al Hijra.
“We should certainly expect Al Hijra and Al Shabab to try again,” Mr. Bryden said. “And we should expect them to have the capacity to do so.” Libya’s interim government on Sunday demanded an explanation from Washington for what it called the “kidnapping” of a Libyan suspect. In the capital, Tripoli, Libyan civilians and political officials reacted with surprise and confusion.
On Saturday, American troops assisted by F.B.I. and C.I.A. agents seized Nazih Abdul-Hamed al-Ruqai, known by his nom de guerre, Abu Anas al-Liby, a suspected leader of Al Qaeda, on the streets of Tripoli. At around the same time, a Navy SEAL team raided the seaside villa of a militant leader in a predawn firefight on the coast of Somalia.
Abu Anas was indicted in 2000 for his role in the 1998 bombings of the United States Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania and had a $5 million bounty on his head.
“It was a good thing,” said a businessman in Tripoli who asked to be identified only by his given name, Hassan, referring to the capture of Abu Anas. “These men are the main reason we are facing issues like this, and they should be taken out of the country. Even my friends were happy to clean the country of those terrorists.”

Abu Anas al-Liby
Libyan officials and members of Parliament said they could not comment on the raid because they did not know all the facts.
Other Libyans said they were angered that the raid had caught their government by surprise and that foreign troops were conducting military operations in their country. They also expressed concern that Islamists would retaliate, perhaps by attacking the American Embassy here, and that the Americans would strike back, leading to an escalation in violence.
In Somalia, the SEAL team emerged before sunrise from the Indian Ocean and exchanged gunfire with militants at the home of a senior leader of the Shabab, a Somali militant group. The raid was planned more than a week ago, officials said, after a massacre by the Shabab at a shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya, that killed more than 60 people two weeks ago.
The SEAL team was forced to withdraw before it could confirm that it had killed the Shabab leader, a senior American security official said. Officials declined to identify the target.
The United States Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya, on Aug. 8, 1998, after a bomb blast. Abu Anas al-Liby was indicted in the attack.
Dave Caulkin / Associated Press
Officials said the timing of the two raids was coincidental. But occurring on the same day, they underscored the rise of northern Africa as a haven for international terrorists. Libya has collapsed into the control of a patchwork of militias since the ouster of the Qaddafi government in 2011. Somalia, the birthplace of the Shabab, has lacked an effective central government for more than two decades.
With President Obama locked in a standoff with Congressional Republicans and his leadership criticized for a policy reversal in Syria, the raids could fuel accusations among his critics that the administration was eager for a showy foreign-policy victory.
Describing Abu Anas as “one of the world’s most wanted terrorists,” Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced that he was “was captured and is now in U.S. custody.”
While the details about his capture were sketchy, an American official said on Saturday night that it appeared that he had been taken peacefully and that he was “no longer in Libya.”
The New York Times
His capture was the latest blow to what remains of the original Qaeda organization after a 12-year American campaign to capture or kill its leadership, including the killing two years ago of its founder, Osama bin Laden, in Pakistan.
But on Sunday, Libya’s government called for more information regarding the American operation.
“As soon as it heard the reports, the Libyan government contacted the United States authorities to demand an explanation” for “the kidnapping of a Libyan citizen,” the government said in a statement.
The demand appeared to contradict the statements of American officials on Saturday that the Libyan government had played some role in the seizure of Abu Anas.
His capture signaled a significant break with Washington’s previous reluctance to send American Special Operations forces into Libya to detain wanted terrorists or suspects in the deadly attack on the diplomatic mission in Benghazi in 2012. The United States government had refrained from such interventions for fear of setting off a backlash that could destabilize or overwhelm Libya’s fledgling transitional government, which is still struggling to muster a viable national police force or military.
But American officials have now apparently run out of patience, potentially signaling a new willingness to try to apprehend suspects in the Benghazi attack, as well.
Islamists in Benghazi, where false rumors of an imminent American raid have been frequent, said anyone who might feel threatened by such a raid had gone into hiding or prepared themselves after reports of the Tripoli operation. “Of course people are worried about it in Benghazi,” Sheik Mohamed Abu Sidra, an influential Islamist leader there, said in an interview on Sunday.
By noon, calls had begun for street protests against the raid or against the interim government for allowing it. Many Libyan Islamists already accuse their interim prime minister, Ali Zeidan, who previously lived in Geneva as part of the exiled opposition to Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, of collaborating too closely with the West.
But on social media, some Libyans, fearful of the influence Al Qaeda or other militants might have in their country, were sympathetic to the American military action, faulting their own interim authorities for failing to apprehend well-known terrorist suspects or otherwise maintain law and order.
Mr. Hagel indicated on Sunday that the United States would not hesitate to take similar action in the future. “We will continue to maintain relentless pressure on terrorist groups that threaten our people or our interests,” he said, in the statement, “and we will conduct direct action against them, if necessary, that is consistent with our laws and our values.”
Despite his presence in Libya, Abu Anas was not believed to have played any role in the attack on the diplomatic mission in Benghazi, senior officials briefed on that investigation have said, but he may have sought to build networks connecting what remains of the Qaeda organization to like-minded militants in Libya.
His brother Nabih told The Associated Press that just after dawn prayers on Saturday, three vehicles full of armed men approached Abu Anas’s home and surrounded him as he parked his car. The men smashed his window, seized his gun and sped away with him, the brother said.
Abu Anas, 49, was born in Tripoli and joined Bin Laden’s organization as early as the early 1990s, when it was based in Sudan. He later moved to Britain, where he was granted political asylum as a Libyan dissident. American prosecutors in New York charged him in a 2000 indictment with helping to conduct “visual and photographic surveillance” of the United States Embassy in Nairobi in 1993 and again in 1995. Prosecutors said in the indictment that Abu Anas had discussed with another senior Qaeda figure the idea of attacking an American target in retaliation for the United States’ peacekeeping operation in Somalia.
After the 1998 bombing, the British police raided his apartment and found an 18-chapter terrorist training manual. Written in Arabic and titled “Military Studies in the Jihad Against the Tyrants,” it included advice on car bombing, torture, sabotage and disguise.
Since the overthrow of Colonel Qaddafi, Tripoli has slid steadily into lawlessness, with no strong central government or police presence. It has become a haven for militants seeking to avoid detection elsewhere, and American government officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss confidential information, have acknowledged in recent months that Abu Anas and other wanted terrorists had been seen moving freely around the capital.
The operation to capture Abu Anas was several weeks in the making, a United States official said, and Mr. Obama was briefed regularly as the suspect was tracked in Tripoli. Mr. Obama had to approve the capture. He had often promised that there would be no “boots on the ground” in Libya when the United States intervened there in March 2011, so the decision to send in Special Operations forces was a risky one.
American officials said they would be questioning Abu Anas for several weeks. But they did not dispute that New York, where an indictment is pending against him, was most likely his ultimate destination. Mr. Obama has been loath to add to the prisoner count at the American military prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and there is precedent for delivering those suspected of terrorism to New York if they are under indictment there.
The operation will do nothing to quell the continuing questions about the events in Benghazi 13 months ago that led to the deaths of four Americans. But officials say the operation was a product of the decision after Benghazi to bolster the counterterrorism effort in Libya, especially as Tripoli became a haven for Qaeda leadership.
The capture of Abu Anas also coincided with a fierce gunfight that killed 15 Libyan soldiers at a checkpoint in a neighborhood southeast of Tripoli, near the traditional home of Abu Anas’s clan.
A spokesman for the Libyan Army general staff, Col. Ali Sheikhi, said five cars full of armed men in masks pulled up at the army checkpoint at 6:15 a.m. and opened fire at point-blank range. It was not clear if the assault at the checkpoint was related to the capture of Abu Anas or his removal from Libya.
Secretary of State John Kerry, who is representing Mr. Obama at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit meeting on the Indonesian island of Bali, thanked the American military personnel who carried out the raids.
“We hope that this makes clear that the United States of America will never stop in its effort to hold those accountable who conduct acts of terror, and those members of Al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations literally can run but they can’t hide,” he said on Sunday while visiting the port village of Benoa. “We will continue to try to bring people to justice in an appropriate way with the hopes that ultimately, these kinds of activities against everybody in the world will stop.”
The raid in Somalia was the most significant by American troops in that lawless country since commandos killed Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan, a Qaeda mastermind, near the same coastal town four years ago. The town, Baraawe, a small port south of Mogadishu, is known as a gathering place for the Shabab’s foreign fighters.
Witnesses described a firefight lasting more than an hour, with helicopters called in for air support. A senior Somali government official who spoke on the condition of anonymity said, “The attack was carried out by the American forces, and the Somali government was pre-informed.”
A spokesman for the Shabab said that one of its fighters had been killed in an exchange of gunfire but that the group had beaten back the assault. American officials initially reported that they had seized the Shabab leader, but later backed off that account.
A United States official said that no Americans had been killed or wounded and that the Americans “disengaged after inflicting some Shabab casualties.”
“We are not in a position to identify those casualties,” the official said. Though Mr. Hagel acknowledged the Somalia operation in a statement on Sunday, he did not describe its outcome.
Asked about the raid, Somalia’s prime minister said on Sunday that his government was working with international partners and neighboring states to combat the Shabab, Reuters reported. “We have collaboration with the world and with neighboring countries in the battle against Al Shabab,” Prime Minister Abdi Farah Shirdon Saaid said.
The F.B.I. sent dozens of agents to Nairobi, the Kenyan capital, after the siege of the Westgate shopping mall two weeks ago to help the Kenyan authorities with the investigation. United States officials fear that the Shabab could attempt a similar attack on American soil, perhaps employing Somali-Americans.
A witness in Baraawe said the house was known as a place where senior foreign commanders stayed. He could not say whether they were there when the attack began, but he added that 12 well-trained Shabab fighters scheduled for a mission abroad were staying there at the time of the assault.
It was not clear what role, if any, the target of the American assault had played in the attack on the Nairobi mall. One United States official said it was still unclear whether any Americans had been involved in the Westgate siege, though several Kenyan officials said they now believed that there had been as few as four attackers — far fewer than the 10 to 15 the government previously reported.
A spokesman for the Kenyan military said on Saturday that it had identified four of the attackers from surveillance footage as Abu Baara al-Sudani, Omar Nabhan, Khattab al-Kene and a man known only as Umayr.
The spokesman, Maj. Emmanuel Chirchir, said none of the militants had escaped the mall. “They’re all dead,” he said.
The footage, broadcast on Kenyan television Friday night, showed four attackers moving about the mall with cool nonchalance.
At least one of the four men, Mr. Nabhan, was Kenyan, officials said, and believed to be a younger relative of Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan, the Qaeda operative killed four years ago near Baraawe, the site of Saturday’s raid.
The elder Mr. Nabhan was a suspect in the bombing of an Israeli hotel on the Kenyan coast in 2002 and the attacks on the American Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998.
Matt Bryden, a former head of the United Nations Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea, said the tactics used in the Westgate attack were similar to those used by the Shabab in a number of operations in Somalia this year. But he also said that local help had been needed to pull off an attack on that scale, and that several of the men identified as taking part in the assault had been connected to the group’s Kenyan affiliate, known as Al Hijra.
“We should certainly expect Al Hijra and Al Shabab to try again,” Mr. Bryden said. “And we should expect them to have the capacity to do so.”