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

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Audio Transcript:

Marco Werman: I'm Marco Werman. This is "The World". The government of Libya is asking Washington for an official explanation of this weekend's raid in Tripoli, a raid that ended with suspected al-Qaeda operative Abu Anas al-Liby in US custody. Some in Libya have called it a kidnapping. Today, 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". Al-Liby is accused by the US of planning the 1998 bombings of the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. More than two hundred and twenty people were killed. Earlier, I spoke with the BBC's Rana Jawad in Tripoli and I asked her how the Libyan public is reacting to Saturday's raid.

Rana Jawad: It depends on where you're trying to find that reaction. It does vary. Online you find a range of different views, some saying good riddance and highly supportive of it. Once you go out on the streets and you talk to people, random people, different backgrounds, I found it interesting that it's very difficult to find anyone who is supportive of it. Your average voice will tell you that this is an infringement on Libya's sovereignty. They're quite angry about it.

Werman: So we'll get into some of those details in a moment, but first, as for the abduction itself, do you feel like you are kinda beginning to marshal the details of this story? Do you kind of feel like you know what happened?

Jawad: Yes, we have been talking to the family of Abu Anas al-Liby here in central Tripoli. We visited their home. So it was a bit of a surreal meeting I suppose. They then took us to the corner of the house where he was taken from and his son described what happened there at the time. Here's more for some details.

[Clip plays]

Abdullah al-Ruqai: [speaking Arabic]

Interpreter: There were four cars waiting for him near the house. As soon as he parked, at least ten men came out of two of the cars. Some were masked, some were unmasked and their features were Libyan. 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.

[Clip ends]

Werman: Abu Anas al-Liby's son speaking there. So, Rana Jawad in Tripoli, can you tell us whether the US government consulted with the Libyan transitional government on this raid?

Jawad: I can't, to put it simply, because from what we've heard from Libyan authorities, it would appear that they simply had no idea.

Werman: And if we do believe the kind of thesis that the United States did not consult with the Libyan government, what do you think that says about that government which is, again, a transitional government? No confidence in them?

Jawad: It's interesting you should say that because that's exactly what one Libyan said to us when we asked him how he felt. He said to him it looked like the US government simply had no regard for the government and that they didn't recognize it.

Werman: I mean John Kerry said that Abu Anas al-Liby was a legal and appropriate target under US laws and those words kind of underscore the debate lots have been having about the US and its role as a global police force. What do Libyans make

Jawad: Well, Libyans are not looking at it from that perspective and I think it's worth mentioning at this stage that Abu Anas al-Liby was not known to Libyans before the news broke about him. We literally had to like tell them and give them background and they're like, "We've never heard about him." So it's still a new phenomenon for them and they do understand the politics behind it. A lot of the people we spoke to said, "We understand that this is a wanted man and the United States has every right to pursue him, but it shouldn't have been done that way because it just makes us look bad and makes our government look bad." So I think that's where the problem lies. The way the Libyans see it is it's a question of sovereignty, it's a question of "What were your other options? Were they explored? And why wasn't our government informed? And what does that say about your relationship with our government?"

Werman: The BBC's Rana Jawad in Tripoli. Thanks so much, Rana.

Jawad: You're welcome.