U.S. interrogators sent to question al-Qaida suspect

WASHINGTON — A team of military, intelligence and Justice Department interrogators has been sent to the USS San Antonio in international waters to question terror suspect Abu Anas al-Libi, who was captured in Libya over the weekend, two law enforcement officials told The Associated Press on Monday.

Al-Libi was indicted in 2000 for his involvement in the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Africa. He is currently being held in military custody aboard the Navy ship under the laws of war, which means a person can be captured and held indefinitely as an enemy combatant, one of the officials said.

As of Monday, al-Libi had not been read his Miranda rights — which includes the rights to remain silent and speak with an attorney. Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to discuss the ongoing investigation.

The interrogators sent to question al-Libi are part of a group of interrogators called the High-Value Detainee Interrogation Group. The group was created by the Obama administration in 2009 to juggle the need to extract intelligence from captured suspected terrorists and preserve evidence for a criminal trial. It’s part of President Barack Obama’s strategy to prosecute terrorists in U.S. civilian courts.

In 2011, the U.S. captured Ahmed Abdulkadir Warsame, a Somali citizen suspected of helping support and train al-Qaida-linked terrorists. Warsame was questioned aboard a warship for two months before he was brought to the U.S. to face charges. He pleaded guilty earlier this year and agreed to tell the FBI what he knew about terror threats and, if necessary, testify for the government.

Under interrogation, Warsame gave up what officials called important intelligence about al-Qaida in Yemen and its relationship with al-Shabab militants in Somalia. Because those sessions were conducted before Warsame was read his Miranda rights, the intelligence could be used to underpin military strikes or CIA actions but were not admissible in court. After that interrogation was complete, the FBI stepped in and started the questioning over in a way that could be used in court. After the FBI read Warsame his rights, he opted to keep talking for days, helping the government build its case.

It was unclear Monday when al-Libi would be brought to the U.S. to face trial or whether there would be additional charges.

The Obama administration has said it can hold high value detainees on a ship for as long as it needs to. During his confirmation hearing in June 2011 to be the head of U.S. Special Operations Command, Adm. William McRaven said the U.S. could keep a detainee on a ship for as long as it takes to determine whether the U.S. could prosecute the suspect in civilian court or if the U.S. could return the suspect to another country.

The FBI and CIA had been tracking al-Libi for years, two former U.S. intelligence officials said. Both former officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to speak about the case.

One said that al-Libi had been living in Pakistan before he returned to Libya before Moammar Gadhafi’s government fell. He went back to Africa to be reunited with his family.

Once the fighting ended, the U.S. intelligence community began focusing on trying to capture al-Libi, the former official said, adding that the U.S. Army’s Delta Force worked with local Libyans to apprehend al-Libi. One of the New York FBI’s counterterrorism squads, CT-6 —mthat focuses on Africa, played a significant role in the capture.

More in Local News

These little piggies stay home

Norman, who was spotted last week in Everett, is part of a trio kept as pets by the “pig whisperer.”

Sailors await to disembark the U.S.S. Kidd on Sunday morning at Naval Station Everett. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Cheering families welcome Kidd, Shoup after 6 months at sea

“I get back Daddy back today,” said one homemade sign at Naval Station Everett.

Stanwood man, 33, killed in crash near Marysville

Speed may have been a factor, the sheriff’s department said.

Jamie Copeland is a senior at Cedar Park Christian Schools’ Mountlake Terrace campus. She is a basketball player, ASB president, cheerleader and, of course, a Lion. (Dan Bates / The Herald)
Cedar Park Christian senior stepping up to new challenges

Jamie Copeland’s academics include STEM studies, leadership, ASB activities, honor society.

Woman, 47, found dead in Marysville jail cell

She’d been in custody about four days after being arrested on warrants, police said.

County plans to sue to recoup costs from ballot drop-box law

A quarter-million dollars could be spent adding 19 ballot boxes in rural areas.

Herald photos of the week

A weekly collection of The Herald’s top images by staff photographers and… Continue reading

Mukilteo Police Chief Cheol Kang is known for his people skills

The city’s top cop’s calm demeanor and holistic approach earns him the nickname “Yoda.”

Mill Creek’s Donna Michelson ready to retire at year’s end

The city’s longest-serving council member says she has every intention of staying involved.

Most Read