Tripoli - US special forces on Saturday carried out a raid in the Libyan capital to capture an al-Qaeda leader linked to the 1998 American Embassy bombings in East Africa and wanted by the United States for more than a decade, a US official said.
A US official identified the al-Qaeda leader as Nazih Abdul-Hamed al-Ruqai, known by his alias Anas al-Libi. His capture would represent a significant blow to what remains of the core al-Qaeda organisation once led by Osama bin Laden.
Pentagon spokesperson George Little said al-Libi "is currently lawfully detained by the US military in a secure location outside of Libya." He did not disclose further details.
A senior US military official said the raid was carried out by the US Army's Delta Force, which has responsibility for counterterrorism operations in North Africa. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorised to speak publicly.
Family members said gunmen in a three-car convoy seized al-Libi outside his home in the Libyan capital, Tripoli. Al-Libi is believed to have returned to Libya during the 2011 civil war that led to the ouster and killing of dictator Muammer Gaddafi.
His brother, Nabih, said the 49-year-old was parking outside his house early on Saturday after dawn prayers, when three vehicles encircled his vehicle. The gunmen smashed his car's window and seized his gun before grabbing al-Libi and fleeing. The brother said al-Libi's wife saw the kidnapping from her window and described the abductors as foreign-looking armed "commandos."
The US official said there were no US casualties in the operation. The official was not authorised to speak publicly and requested anonymity.
Al-Libi is on the FBI's most-wanted list with a $5 million bounty on his head. He was indicted by a federal court in the Southern District of New York, for his alleged role in the bombings of the US Embassies in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and Nairobi, Kenya, on 7 August 1998, that killed more than 220 people.
Libyan officials did not return calls seeking comment on al-Libi's abduction and the US issued no immediate statements. His brother said he did not contact authorities over the matter.
Al-Libi was believed to be a computer specialist with al-Qaeda. He studied electronic and nuclear engineering, graduating from Tripoli University, and was an anti-Gaddafi activist.