Skip to main content

Taken in 30 seconds: Video shows U.S. capture of terror suspect Anas al-Libi

By Ralph Ellis, CNN
February 11, 2014 -- Updated 1308 GMT (2108 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Video shows U.S. commandos pulling suspect from his car
  • Anas al-Libi is put into a white van and driven away
  • He's accused in the deadly bombing of two U.S. embassies in Africa
  • Al-Libi is now being held in New York on conspiracy, murder charges

(CNN) -- A dark car parks in front of a residence in Tripoli, Libya. Immediately, a white van stops next to it.

Men leap from the van and point guns at the car. They yank open the car doors, pull a man out and shove him into the van. The van speeds away.

In less than 30 seconds, the United States had taken suspected al Qaeda member Anas al-Libi into custody.

Dramatic security camera video published Monday in the Washington Post shows U.S. commandos capturing al-Libi last October.

Al-Libi is a top terror suspect. He's accused of playing a key role in the August 7, 1998, bombings of American embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, which killed more than 200 people and wounded about 5,000.

The video was shot from a vantage point above al-Libi's family home in Tripoli. The family tells CNN's Jomana Karadsheh the video is genuine and was recorded on the family's home security system.

The capture was executed with lightning speed. Digital time on the video shows only half a minute passing between when al-Libi's car stops and the departure of the white van. As the commandos leave, al-Libi's car rolls forward and out of frame, apparently because he didn't have time to put it in park.

Later images show members of the family reacting, running downstairs to the street.

The video was provided only to al-Libi's U.S. lawyers, the family said. Karadsheh and CNN's Nic Robertson, who both visited the location, said the video is consistent with the street outside the family home.

Al-Libi, 49, is now being held in New York. He was indicted in 2001 by the federal court in the Southern District of New York on charges of conspiracy to kill U.S. nationals, murder, destruction of American buildings and government property and destruction of national defense utilities of the United States.

His wife said he was no longer a member of al Qaeda, had been living a normal life and was seeking a job with the Libyan oil ministry.

On October 5, the day of the capture, a team of U.S. Navy SEALs in southern Somalia targeted the top leader of Al-Shabaab, which was behind the mall attack in Kenya in September. The SEALs came under fire and had to withdraw before they could confirm whether they killed their target, a senior U.S. official said.

Al Libi trial, Libya and al Qaeda: What you won't hear in court

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
April 18, 2014 -- Updated 1439 GMT (2239 HKT)
Tethered to an IV drip, 71-year-old Shin Young Ja lies under a thin fleece blanket, nursing a broken back and wracked with survivor's guilt.
April 18, 2014 -- Updated 1123 GMT (1923 HKT)
Family members of the missing passengers are pinning slim hopes on floundering air pockets.
April 17, 2014 -- Updated 1614 GMT (0014 HKT)
An Iranian mother slaps and then forgives her 17-year old son's murderer in dramatic scenes at the gallows.
April 16, 2014 -- Updated 1135 GMT (1935 HKT)
An "extraordinary" video shows what looks like the largest and most dangerous gathering of al Qaeda in years.
April 14, 2014 -- Updated 1230 GMT (2030 HKT)
Explore each side's case, reconstructed from Pistorius' court affidavit and the prosecution's case during last year's bail hearing.
April 16, 2014 -- Updated 1237 GMT (2037 HKT)
Mentions of the 1989 Tiananmen Square student protests or political reform are still censored in China.
April 18, 2014 -- Updated 0934 GMT (1734 HKT)
The Hadza are one of the last communities of hunter-gatherers in the world -- but losing their land.
April 19, 2014 -- Updated 0122 GMT (0922 HKT)
In choosing to change a traditional practice, Francis is being as radical as Jesus was in his own time.
April 18, 2014 -- Updated 1113 GMT (1913 HKT)
Too weak. Can't handle pressure. Unattractive to sponsors. Susie Wolff has heard it all.
April 20, 2014 -- Updated 0249 GMT (1049 HKT)
Browse through images you don't always see on news reports from CNN teams around the world.
April 18, 2014 -- Updated 1230 GMT (2030 HKT)
It's like finding a needle in a universe-wide haystack. Researchers have located a planet roughly the size of Earth that could be habitable.
April 18, 2014 -- Updated 0940 GMT (1740 HKT)
Dubai, long champion of all things biggest, longest and most expensive, will soon have some competition from a neighboring country.
ADVERTISEMENT