Global Politics

Should the US be able to pursue terrorists wherever they are found?

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Credit: FBI photo/Reuters

Senior al-Qaeda figure Abu Anas al-Libi.

Libya’s interim government wants an official explanation for this weekend's US raid in Tripoli — which ended with suspected al-Qaeda operative Abu Anas al-Liby in US custody.

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(This story is based on a radio interview. Listen to the full interview.)

The BBC’s Rana Jawad interviewed al-Liby’s family about the capture. Al-Liby’s son says Libyans were involved in the raid outside his home.

“As soon as [my father] parked, at least ten men came out of two of the cars,” he said. “Some were masked. Some were unmasked and their features were Libyan and they spoke in a Libyan dialect. They drugged him, smashed the car window, dragged him out and put him in a white Mercedes. He was kidnapped.”

Libya’s interim government maintains it was in the dark about the whole raid.

If that's true, then who were the Libyans helping the US? And if Libya was unaware of the raid, what does that say about the effectiveness of the Libyan interim government?

The first question remains unanswered. But the raid itself could imply an answer to the second: the US doesn’t think much of the Libyan interim government.

Jawad says she was surprised many Libyans didn’t even know who Abu Anas al-Liby was. Nor, she says, were they familiar with the two American embassy bombings he’s accused of orchestrating in East Africa in 1998.

But once told, Jawad said, many understood why the US government wanted to go after the man. Still, they told Jawad the US should have asked for permission from their government before conducting the military operation.

“Many Libyans feel it’s a question of sovereignty,” she said.

Secretary of State John Kerry defended the operation. Speaking in Indonesia, Kerry called al-Liby "a key al -Qaeda figure," and a "legal and legitimate target for the US military."

While Libyans don't necessarily disagree with that, they don't think it's right the US came in apparently unannounced.

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