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Security At Sochi

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With the 2014 Olympic Games set to open in Sochi, Russia in two days, questions relating to security, and Russia’s ability to thwart further terrorist attacks, continue to be the main focus as thousands of spectators, media officials and sportsmen begin to descend on the Black Sea region.  Dubbed “Putin’s Games,” anticipation surrounding the upcoming Games has shared headline’s with issues of security and the region’s recent history of unrest and the potential of violence targeting spectators and athletes.

A week before the official opening of the Games, United States government officials issued a warning that more terrorist attacks in Russia were “very likely to occur” in the run-up to, or during, the Winter Olympics in Sochi, where eight-eight countries will be competing.  An official assessment of the threat has indicated that a Caucasus group, Imarat Kavakaz (IK), poses the main danger to the Games, which will occur on Russia’s Black Sea coast.  According to the threat assessment, this Caucasus group has repeatedly expressed a desire to target the Sochi Games.  On one such occurrence in July 2013, the group’s fugitive leader, Emir Doku Umarove, called on his followers to do what they could in order to disrupt the games.  Islamist militants from Dagestan, and nearby republics of Ingushetia and Chechnya, are also considered by officials in Moscow to be a major threat to the Games.

Recent Terrorist Attacks

Over the past few months, anticipation for the opening of the Games has been overshadowed by continuing questions relating to the safety and security of athletes and spectators in the wake of a number of suicide bombings and attacks.

In December 2013, thirty-four people were killed in two separate explosions that were carried out by suicide bombers in the southern Russian city of Volgograd.  The two bombings occurred just months after another suicide bombing targeted a bus in the city and just two days after a car bomb killed three people in the southern city of Pyatigorsk on 27 December.  Pyatigorsk lies 270 km (170 miles) east of Sochi.

On 29 December, a suicide bombing took place at the Volgorad-1 station in the city of Volograd, which is situated in the Volograd Oblast of Southern Russia.  The blast killed eighteen people and injured forty-four.  The attack, which occurred around 12:45 PM Moscow Time, was carried out near the metal detectors by the entrance of the station.  A day later, on the morning of 30 December at about 8:30 AM Moscow Time in the Dzerzhinsky district in Volograd, a bombing targeted the No. 1233 trolleybus of route 15A, which connects a suburb to Volograd’s downtown area.  The explosion occurred as the trolleybus passed one of the city’s main markets.  The attack killed sixteen people and injured forty-one.   The two bombings occurred just two months after a suicide bomber set off explosives on a bus.  The attack, which occurred in October, killed six people and injured another thirty.  It was also the first incident to occur outside the North Caucasus region after Chechen rebel leader Doku Umarov called for a resumption of attacks on civilians, and urged militants to target the Sochi Games.

 

In January 2014, Russian investigators announced that they believed the perpetrators of the two Volograd bombings in late December were two men who arrived in the city from the North Caucasus region.  A video posted on 19 January, by a group calling itself Vilayat Dagestan, depicted what appeared to be the bombers donning explosive belts and brandishing weapons.  During the video, the two men warned President Vladimir Putin to expect a “present” at the Olympics.

At the end of January 2014, Russia’s National Anti-Terrorist Committee (NAK) announced the identities of two suicide bombers responsible for killing two people in the Volograd.  According to the NAK, Asker Samedov and Suleyman Magomedov were members of a group based in the town of Buynaksk, officials further noted that two men suspected of helping the terrorists were arrested in Dagestan.

Despite the arrests, threats of further attacks have continued and Russian police announced in late January that they were hunting for other suspects, including a woman whom they fear may be planning to carry out a suicide bomb attack during the Games.  Police officials in Sochi put up wanted posters in hostels around the town.  The woman, 23-year-old Ruzana Ibragimova, from Dagestan in the North Caucasus region, is believed to be the widow of an Islamist militant.  Officials in Russia believe that despite tight security, she entered Sochi earlier this month.  Other police posters have indicated that at least two other potential female suicide bombers are also at large.

Several national Olympic associations have also reported receiving emails threatening athletes with attacks.  A statement by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) indicated that the email appeared to be “a random message from a member of the public,” adding that it posed no threat.  Officials at the British Olympic Association indicated that they “receive correspondence of every type and it is not uncommon to come across something like this that lacks credibility.  While the IOC and national bodies, have widely dismissed such emails, deeming them as not credible, the threat of an attack during the Games remains real.

Security

Since the December bombings, officials in Russia launched a massive security operation to provide security for the Winter Olympic Games.  Despite growing international concerns and scrutiny of Russia’s ability to thwart such attacks, officials in Russia have ensured those travelling to Sochi, that security is their upmost priority, as the country will host the largest event since the fall of the Soviet Union.

After the deadly suicide bombings in Volograd, Russia launched one of the largest security operations in Olympic history.  More than 30,000 police and interior ministry troops have been deployed, while access to Sochi and the Olympic area has been limited.  According to Emergency Situations Minister Vladimir Puchkov, “starting 7 January, all divisions responsible for ensuring the guests’ security at the Games are being put on combat alert,” adding that “every facility will be put under protection and a space-based monitoring system will be launched.”

Russian officials have established two security zones to protect the Games.  A “controlled zone,” located near the Olympic venues, will limit access to people with tickets and proof of identity, while another “forbidden zone” will be in place in large areas around Sochi.  Vehicles not registered locally, and which do not have special accreditation, will be banned from the city.  The sale of firearms, explosives and ammunition will also be prohibited.  Airport-style security is in force for commuters using local trains.  Hundreds of volunteers will also body-search all passengers at each station.  Two US warships will be on standby in the Black Sea when the Games begin on 7 February.  Washington has also offered to supply Russia with hi-tech equipment in order to help detect improvised explosives.

Despite this, security concerns remains.  On Wednesday, Australian Olympic team chef de mission Ian Chesterman announced that team members were banned from travelling into Sochi city as a security precaution.  A statement issued by Australian Olympic team officials indicated that athletes will be limited to locations within the security perimeters of the Olympic Park and sporting complexes within the mountain zone.  In response, IOC spokesman Mark Adams stated that while the recommendation to avoid Sochi city had not come from the IOC, “we believe that security is being handled very well.”

With the Winter Olympics now being a prime target for terror attacks, Moscow has had no choice but to ensure the maximum possible security in Sochi.  However the suicide bombings in Volograd have demonstrated that Russia’s security problem extends beyond the Black Sea region, and will likely continue after the conclusion of the Games on 23 February.  The recent terror attacks have demonstrated that terror groups can strike anywhere.  However while it is difficult to secure an Olympic city, it is almost impossible to secure the whole country.  And while the eyes of the world will focus on Sochi for the next few weeks, and will likely scrutinize what are set to be the most expensive Olympic Games, once the Olympic flame is extinguished, officials and authorities in Russia will have to turn their focus onto the North Caucasus region and the area’s history of instability.

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Mali Review

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Malian Fugitive Recaptured

A Malian fugitive, known as “Cheibani” has been recaptured by French forces following his escape from a Niger prison in June of this year.  The fugitive, Alhassane Ould Mohammed, who escaped from a prison in Niger where he was serving a sentence for the killing of four Saudi tourists along with his alleged participation in the assassination of a US diplomat, was arrested by French soldiers in northern Mali on Tuesday.  Mali’s Chief Prosecutor Daniel Tessogue confirmed the arrest, adding that Cheibani had been arrested along with three other people.  According to Niger’s Justice Minister Marou Mohamed, Cheibani was captured after a tip-off from Niger security officials.  He was found in a hideout situated between the towns of Gao and Kidal.

Cheibani was amongst twenty-two prisoners who escaped from the jail in June after an attack on the prison was launched by suspected Islamist militants.  Following the mass breakout, officials in the United States unsealed an indictment for his arrest.  The indictment specified that Cheibani was wanted for the murder of US diplomat William Bultemeir, who was shot in December 2000 in Niger’s capital city as he was leaving a restaurant with his colleagues.

In September, months after his escape, a US $20,000 (£12,235) reward was announced for information that would lead to his recapture.  At the time of his escape, Cheibani was serving a twenty-year prison sentence in Niger for the murder of four Saudi citizens who were travelling with a Saudi prince on a hunting trip in 2009.

 

Demonstrators Halt Prime Minister’s Visit

Meanwhile on Thursday, Tuareg demonstrators in the northeastern town of Kidal occupied an airport runway in order to prevent Mali’s Prime Minister Oumar Tatam Ly from visiting the rebel-controlled town.

Shortly after the protests ended, demonstrators indicated that Malian soldiers had shot and wounded three demonstrators, however officials from the Malian army have denied these allegations.  An African military source has indicated that although troops from the UN military supporting mission in Mali, MINUSMA, attempted to stop the demonstrators from occupying and blocking the runway, they failed to remove the protesters.

Isamel Toure, an official in the regional governor’s office confirmed these reports, stating that as the airport was preparing to receive the prime minister’s plane, “several hundred youths and women backed by the MNLA went to Kidal aerodrome, determined to stop the planed from landing.”  Aides of the Prime Minister confirmed the incident, stating that “for the moment,” the prime minister had cancelled his trop.  According to his aides, prior to arriving in Kidal, the prime minister had been visiting Gao, which is located 300 kilometers (185 miles) south of Kidal.

Despite a signed ceasefire between the Malian government and Tuareg rebels, which was reached in June of this year, tensions between the two groups continue to be an issue and a threat to Mali’s stabilization process and lasting peace.

 

Mali’s Elections Off to Second Round

Officials on Wednesday announced that Mali’s parliamentary elections will enter a second round of voting on December 15, after no party secured an absolute majority in the first round of voting that took place on November 24.

While some 6.5 million Malians were eligible to vote for a new national assembly, with more than 1,000 candidates running for the 147 seats, turnout reached only 38.4 percent.  According to Moussa Sinko Coulibaly, the Minister of Territorial Administration, the turnout was “far short of our expectations.”

The goal of Mali’s new president, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, is to give his RPM party, and its allies, a comfortable majority in the new assembly.

The November 24 polls mark Mali’s second major step towards recovery after the country plunged into chaos in the wake of last year’s military coup.  They also mark a finalization of Mali’s transition to democracy after the process was started with the August presidential elections.  The latest elections in Mali have been viewed as generally being peaceful by foreign and national monitors however observers nonetheless regretted the low turnout.

 

Coup Leader Charged With Murder

Amadou Sanogo, the leader of the 2012 coup which effectively plunged Mali into months of chaos, was on Wednesday charged with murder and complicity to murder.  According to a judicial source, he has been placed in detention pending further investigations.  A source close to the case has indicated that Sanogo has also been charged with kidnapping, with the source noting that “other people” close to the coup leader will be questioned.

His arrest was ordered by investigating judge Yaya Karembe, who at a hearing in Bamako, charged the lieutenant-general with murder.  The hearing in the capital city came just hours after several dozen Malian soldiers forcibly entered Sanogo’s residence, which is located in the city centre, in order to arrest him.

Although Sanogo had been ordered in October to appear in front of a panel to answer questions pertaining to a number of deaths that occurred during a mutiny against him at his former headquarters in the central town of Kati, which is located near Bamako, the summons had been ignored by Sanogo, which sparked indignation amongst Malian politicians and activists.

Despite launching a coup in March of last year, in May 2012, Sanogo, along with his former junta, were granted a general amnesty, with Sanogo receiving the status of former head of state, which included all the accompanying benefits.  Although that status was later withdrawn, Mr. Sanogo was controversially promoted from captain to lieutenant-general in August of his year, a promotion that prompted a number of fellow ex-junta members, who were also seeking promotions, to mutiny at his Kati barracks.  This forced the Malian army to intervene in order to prevent another coup, and further destabilization of security, from occurring.  Shortly after the Malian military intervened, the bodies of three missing soldiers were discovered in and around the barracks.  Around twenty officers, including Sanogo’s former deputy, were subsequently arrested.  Human Rights Watch (HRW), along with other politicians and activists, have called his promotion a “shameful act,” and have argued that the former captain should have been investigated for his alleged involvement in torture.

French Priest Kidnapped in Northern Cameroon; Another French Hostage Flees His Captors

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On Thursday, the French Foreign Ministry confirmed that a French priest had been kidnapped in northern Cameroon, close to the border with Nigeria, nine months after Nigerian Islamists kidnapped a family in the same border region.  Reports now indicate that Father Georges Vandenbeusch had time to alert the French embassy prior to being kidnapped by militants overnight on Thursday.

Father Georges Vandenbeusch, 42, was seized near Koza, about 30 kilometers (19 miles) from the border with Nigeria, during the early morning hours on Thursday.  According to Paris-based bishop Monseigneur Gerard Daucourt, who is in charge of the priest, fifteen gunmen burst into the compound in Nguetchewe, where the priest had been working, demanding money.  According to the bishop, Mr. Vandenbeusch had time to alert the French embassy by phone before the gunmen stormed his private room.  His abductors then marched him barefoot across the village before felling on their motorcycles.  Monseigneur Daucourt has also indicated that the priest’s suitcase was found a road that leads into Nigeria with only a checkbook in it.  According to a nun who worked with Mr. Vandenbeusch at the compound, the gunmen were speaking in English and had arrived on foot.

Agustine Fonka Awa, governor of the Far North region, has since travelled to Nguetchewe along with security forces in order to investigate the kidnapping however he has stated that the priest has likely already been taken across the border into Nigeria.  According to officials in Nigeria, the Far North region of Cameroon has been used by Boko Haram militants in order to transport weapons and to hide from the six-month ongoing military offensive against them.  Officials in Aubja last week appealed to Cameroon to tighten security along the border as the porous region has enabled Boko Haram militants to easily launch attacks and to go into hiding.

Mr. Vandenbeusch is likely to have been targeted by militants as he was known to help Nigerians flee attacks carried out by Boko Haram.  An official at the Paris prosecutor’s office has confirmed that an investigation has been opened into the “kidnapping and illegal confinement by a group linked to a terrorist organization.”  France’s Foreign Ministry has also indicated that so far no group has claimed responsibility for the kidnapping however it is believed that members of either Boko Haram or Ansaru, militant groups known to operate in the region, are likely behind the abduction.  France’s Foreign Ministry are currently in the process of establishing the identity of the kidnappers.

The kidnapping of the Roman Catholic priest occurred near the area where another French family had been abducted earlier this year.  Seven members, four of them children under the age of twelve, of the Moulin-Fournier family were kidnapped by Islamist militants near Cameroon’s northern Waza National Park, which likes just a few kilometers from the Nigerian border, in February of this year.  They were taken over the border into neighboring Nigeria and held hostage for two months.  Despite officials from France and Cameroon denying that a ransom payment was made, a confidential report from the Nigerian government indicated that Boko Haram, who was responsible for the kidnapping, had received a ransom payment of US $3.15 million (£2 million) before releasing the family.  Similarly last month, the French media reported that a €20 million ransom payment had been paid in order to secure the release of four French hostages who were abducted in Niger in 2010.  This allegation has strongly been denied by the French government.

Mr. Vandenbeusch’s abduction is the latest in a series of attacks on French targets in West Africa ever since the country launched a military intervention in January to remove al-Qaeda-linked militants from the northern region of Mali.  The latest kidnapping of a French national also comes at a time when France has over the pat month both celebrated the release of four hostages and mourned the killing of two journalists.  On 29 October, President Francois Hollande confirmed the release of four French hostages who were kidnapped in Niger in 2010.  The hostages had been held in northern Mali by Islamist militants.  While their return to France was seen as a victory, their release was marred when just days later on 2 November two French journalists working for Radio France Internationale (RFI) were killed in Mali by militants claiming to represent al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).  According to the militants, the killings were in retaliation for France’s ongoing operation in Mali however security experts have since stated that the killings were the result of a failed kidnapping attempt when the militants‘ vehicle broke down, forcing them to kill the hostages amidst fears that they would be tracked down by French forces.  The recent incidents have also sparked an urgent call French President Francois Hollande, asking all French citizens not to put themselves in harm’s way.  While France’s Foreign Ministry had previously categorized the northern region of Cameroon as a high risk for kidnapping, warning any citizens in the area to leave immediately, reports have now indicated that Mr. Vandenbeusch had repeatedly ignored those warnings.  According to French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, “he had been told several times that the area is dangerous….We had expressly advised him not to stay on but he though he should remain there.”  Mr. Vandenbeusch arrived in Cameroon in 2011, having previously been a priest in the Paris suburb of Sceaux.

 

French Hostage Escapes After Nearly One Year in Captivity

Meanwhile another French hostage, Francis Collomp, who was held by Islamist militants in northern Nigeria for nearly a year, is free after reportedly escaping during a shoot-out.

Reports have indicated that Mr. Collomp had managed to escape from his cell during an army operation that was carried out against the militants.  A source close to the case has indicated that Mr. Collomp fled after his cell door was left open.  He then hailed a taxi which took him to the police, from where he was brought to Kaduna.  According to Femi Adenaike Adeleye, the police commissioner in the regional capital of Kaduna, Mr. Collomp escaped in the northern city of Zaria on Saturday while his captors were praying,” adding that “he watched his captors’ prayer time.  They always prayed for 15 minutes.  And yesterday they did not lock the door to his cell.”  The commissioner further added that Mr. Collomp had been held in the city of Kano after his abduction and that he had been brought to Zaria about two months ago.

On Sunday, French President Francois Hollande has thanked Nigeria’s authorities for helping secure the release of Francis Collomp, 63, in the northern city of Zaria.  Mr. Collomp left Abuja on a flight to Paris late on Sunday.  He was accompanied by French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius.  Didier Le Bret, the head of the French foreign ministry’s crisis centre, indicated that Mr. Collomp was “weakened” but in good enough health to travel.”  He is expected to arrive in Paris around 6:00AM (0500 GMT) on Monday, where he will be met by French Prime Minsiter Jean-Marc Ayrault.

Mr. Collomp was kidnapped on 19 December 2012 by about thirty armed men who attacked the residence of his employer, French wind turbine manufacturer Vergnet, in the northern Nigerian state of Katsina. The kidnapping, which left two bodyguards and a bystander dead, was claimed by Ansaru, a militant group linked to Boko Haram.

 

At Least Seven Remain

With the release of Mr. Collomp, and four other French hostages earlier this month, at least seven French hostages are still being held captive abroad.

Mali

  • On 24 November 2011, Frenchmen Serge Lazarevic and Philippe Verdon are kidnapped from their hotel in Hombori, northeastern Mali, while on a business trip.  Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) claimed responsibility on December 9.  Mr. Verdon was killed earlier this year.  His death was confirmed by French officials.
  • On 20 November 2012 – Gilberto Rodriguez Leal, a Portuguese-born French citizen, is abducted by at least six armed men in Diema, western Mali, while travelling by car from Mauritania.  On 22 November, al-Qaeda-linked Islamist rebel group the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO) claimed responsibility for the kidnapping.

Cameroon/Nigeria

  • 14 November 2013 Roman Catholic priest Georges Vandenbeusch abducted from his home near the town of Koza in northern Cameroon, about 30 kilometers (20 miles) from the border with Nigeria.

Syria

  • 6 June 2013 two French journalists, Didier Francois from Europe 1 Radio and Edouard Elias, an independent photographer working for the same station, are reported missing in Syria.  The office of French President Francois Hollande indicated that the pair were intercepted by unknown kidnappers at a checkpoint while travelling towards Aleppo.
  • 9 October 2013 – The capture of reporter Nicolas Henin and Photographer Pierre Torres is announced by their families and the French Foreign Ministry.  The two men were kidnapped on June 22 while working in the northern city of Raqqa.  None of the armed groups fighting for control of the town have claimed responsibility, nor have any demands been made.
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Tuareg Rebel Movements in Mali Announce Merger

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Three Tuareg and Arab rebel movements announce their merger.  Meanwhile insecurity continues to destabilize the country with a new attack occurring in northern Mali.

On Monday 4 November 2013, three Tuareg and Arab rebel movements in northern Mali announced their merger to form a united front in peace talks with authorities in the Malian capital city Bamako.  According to reports, after several days of talks in Burkina Faso, which is the regional mediator for the conflict, representatives of the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) along with the Arab Movement of Azawad (MAA) and the High Council for the Unity of Azawad (HCUA) adopted a “political platform,” a “negotiating committee,” and a joint “decision-making body.”  The three rebel movements further indicated that the decision to merge was “guided by a common political will to prioritize the best interests of the people” of the vast northern desert region they call Azawad, adding that a political solution was the only option in securing peace.  According to the groups, the merger will go ahead “within 45 days” after the membership of each of the groups had approved the move, adding that no name has yet been chosen for the new movement.

Meanwhile in the latest insecurity to hit the country, on Monday four people were killed in northern Mali after their truck ran over a land mine.  According to a local government official in Menaka, four passengers were killed when a pick-up, which was transporting thirty-eight people between the desert towns of Ansongo and Menaka in the region of Gao, drove over the explosive device.  Ibrahim Ag Moha further indicated that ‘four people died on the spot and eight others were injured, and are currently being taken to hospital in Menaka.”  Two of the injured are reported to be in critical condition.  The truck was a public transport vehicle.  It currently remains unknown who is responsible for laying the mine however a report released by the United Nations earlier this year indicated that unexploded ordnance and land mines littering the West African nation remained a “significant threat.”

The latest unrest comes as the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon arrived in Mali late on Monday to begin a regional tour that will highlight the battle against poverty.  The Secretary General, along with World Bank President Jim Yong Kim and top officials from the African Union, African Development Bank and European Union are scheduled to meet in Mali on Tuesday before travelling to Niger later that day and Burkina Faso and Chad on Wednesday.  They are scheduled to meet the presidents of each country.    Ahead of his visit to Mali, Mr. Ban stated that eleven million of the 80 million people living in the Sahel countries lack sufficient food.‘  According to a statement released by World Bank chief Jim Yong Kim, “the people of the Sahel region desperately need more secure living standards, and our hope is this funding helps build a new path for economic growth in the region.”  The European Union and the World Bank have pledged more than US $8 billion in fresh aid for the Sahel region countries which have been affected by conflict.

The Secretary General’s official visit to Mali comes at a time when French and Malian troops are searching for the killers of Ghislaine Dupont and Claude Verlon, who were kidnapped and shot dead by suspected terrorists on Saturday in the northeastern town of Kidal.  The deaths of the two French journalists have further highlighted the ongoing security threat just three weeks ahead of parliamentary elections which are meant to mark the completion of Mali’s transition back to democracy following a military coup in March last year.

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Libyan Man Accused of Links to al-Qaeda Appears in Public for First Time Since Being Captured Ten Days Ago

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Ten days after being seized during a US raid in Tripoli, Abu Anas al-Libi, the alleged architect of al-Qaeda’s bombing of two US embassies in 1998, plead not guilty in a New York courtroom. If convicted, he faces a sentence of up to life in prison.

Appearing in public for the first time since being captured by US forces in Libya earlier this month, Abu Anas al-Libi, whose real name is Nazih Abdul-Hamed al-Ruqai, appeared in a federal court in Manhattan on Tuesday. After spending a week aboard a US Navy ship in the Mediterranean, Mr. Al-Libi, 49, appeared exhausted and frail. Speaking Arabic through a translator, he asked to be addressed by his real name and confirmed that he understood that he had been accused of planning the August 1998 attacks. After denying a series of terrorism charges, that date back twenty years, Mr. Al-Libi entered a not guilty plea through his lawyer. Presiding Judge Lewis Kaplan has adjourned the hearing until 22 October, noting that the suspect must be kept in detention as a flight risk.

In the weeks since the 5 October mission, which simultaneously saw US Commandos attempt to track down a top al-Shabaab commander in Somalia, anger has been rising in Libya over the raid, with many viewing it as a breach of Libyan sovereignty. Although US Secretary of State John Kerry has defended the capture of Mr. Al-Libi, calling him a “legal and appropriate target,” the Libyan government has demanded a full explanation of the raid from the officials in the US. This resulted in Libya’s justice minister summoning the US ambassador to the country for questioning last week. In turn, Libya’s Prime Minister Ali Zeidan has also voiced his concerns, noting that his country was “keen on prosecuting any Libyan citizen inside Libya.” Shortly after being captured, Mr. Al-Libi was taken to a US navy vessel in the Mediterranean. According to reports, Mr. Al-Libi was interrogated by intelligence officials on board the USS San Antonio for a period of a week after his capture. Court details have also indicated that Mr. Al-Libi was not formally arrested until a week after being seized. This has prompted critics in the US to accuse President Barack Obama of continuing controversial detention policies that had been introduced by former President George W. Bush.

Mr. Al-Libi was wanted in connection to the 7 August 1998 bombing of a US embassy in Nairobi and of America’s diplomatic mission in Dar es Salaam. The attacks were carried out when trucks laden with explosives detonated almost simultaneously. More than 200 people died in the Kenyan capital, with at least 11 dead in Dar es Salaam. Thousands others were injured in the bombings. The majority of the victims were civilians.

For the past decade, Mr. al-Libi has been on the FBI’s most wanted list, with a US $5 million (£3.1 million) bounty on his head. He was formally charged with conspiracy to murder, kidnap and maim Americans, to damage and destroy US buildings and property, and to attack US national defence facilities. The charges against him also include discussing a possible al-Qaeda attack against the US embassy in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, in retaliation for the American military intervention in Somalia. In a 157-page indictment, prosecutors allege that from 1993, he carried out surveillance on the US embassy in Nairobi, Kenya, where he took photographs that were later inspected by Osama bin Laden. The former computer programmer is also alleged to have “reviewed files” concerning possible attacks on Western interests in East Africa.

The second US command raid on 5 October was carried out in southern Somalia however that mission failed to capture its target – Abdukadir Mohamed Abudkadir, a Kenyan al-Shabaab commander who is also known as Ikrima. That raid came in the wake of the attack on the Westgate shopping centre in Nairobi, which left at least 67 people dead, and which was claimed by al-Shabaab militants.

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