BREAKING: Terror Suspect Abu Anas Al-Libi Who Plotted U.S. Embassy Attacks Dies in New York
1/3/2014 BY JONATHAN DIENST AND ROBERT WINDREM
From Oct. 6, 2013: Al Qaeda official seized in dramatic Libya raid
NEW YORK — A one-time associate of Osama Bin Laden died in New York on Friday while awaiting trial for allegedly plotting the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.
Abu Anas al-Libi, 50, was captured in Libya by U.S. commandos in Oct. 2013 and brought to New York where he was due to stand trial. He had been wanted for more than a decade and there was a $5 million reward for his arrest. Al-Libi had pleaded not guilty.
The al Qaeda terror suspect has been in poor health and suffered liver disease as a result of hepatitis C, according to published reports.
In a court filing, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said that al-Libi was taken from the Metropolitan Correctional Center to a New York hospital on Wednesday "due to sudden complications arising out of his long-standing medical problems."
Bharara added that al-Libi's condition "deteriorated rapidly" and he died on Friday.
"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," Bharara wrote.
A spokesman for Bharara declined comment. An FBI spokesman did not immediately return a request for comment.
Al-Libi's attorney Bernard Kleinman had recently said his client's health was deteriorating. Kleinman did not immediately return a call for comment early Saturday.
Al-Libi's wife, Um Abdullah, told The Associated Press that being his experience only worsened his ailments, including hepatitis C, leading to his death. "I accuse the American government of kidnapping, mistreating, and killing an innocent man. He did nothing," Abdullah said.
Abdullah said her husband underwent liver surgery three weeks ago, went into a coma and was moved prematurely back to prison where he suffered complications.
His wife said that she spoke to al-Libi last time from prison on Thursday. "His voice was weak and he was in a bad condition," she added.
The near-simultaneous bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa on Aug. 7, 1998 introduced al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden to most Americans for the first time. The attacks killed 224 people, including 12 Americans.
Al-Libi — who was also known as Nazih Abdul Hamed al-Ruqai — was charged with having played a major role in organizing and conducting surveillance for the operation.
In a sweeping joint indictment (PDF) of al-Libi and a dozen other top al Qaeda officials — including bin Laden — prosecutors alleged that as early as 1994, al-Libi plotted attacks against the U.S. Agency for International Development office and other international targets in Nairobi, Kenya. Six al Qaeda operatives have already been convicted in New York.
Al-Libi had studied electronic and nuclear engineering and graduated from Tripoli University. He opposed Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi's rule.
He is believed to have spent time in Sudan, where bin Laden was based in the early 1990s. After bin Laden was forced to leave Sudan, al-Libi turned up in Britain in 1995 where he was granted political asylum under unclear circumstances and lived in Manchester. He was arrested by Scotland Yard in 1999, but released because of lack of evidence and later fled Britain. After his indictment, U.S. officials said they believed he was hiding in Afghanistan.
NBC News' Jason Cumming and The Associated Press contributed to this report.