HARRISONBURG — U.S. Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Roanoke, wants to know why the suspected al Qaeda operative captured in Libya earlier this month is now sitting in a jail cell in New York City.
Specifically, Goodlatte expressed skepticism that Abu Anas al-Libi could have been thoroughly interrogated in just eight days — the time it took the USS San Antonio, where al-Libi was held following his Oct. 5 capture by U.S. Delta Forces, to sail from the Mediterranean Sea to New York. The San Antonio arrived in Manhattan on Saturday. Authorities say al-Libi, a former confidante of Osama bin Laden, according to U.S. officials, is accused of masterminding the 1998 bombings of two American embassies in Africa. The bombings claimed 224 lives.
“In just over one week, one of the world’s most wanted terror suspects was questioned and then brought to New York where he is being afforded the rights guaranteed to U.S. citizens, including the right to remain silent,” Goodlatte, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said in a statement late Monday. “I find it hard to believe that 15 years of intelligence was gathered in just a few days of interrogation.
Goodlatte, whose 6th district includes the central Valley, also questioned the Obama administration’s decision to send al-Liby directly to New York to stand trial in a U.S. federal court. Al-Liby is just the latest defendant to face civilian trial during President Barack Obama’s five years in office. In the most notable of those cases, Obama was criticized early in his first term for planning to prosecute 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in New York.
Goodlatte alluded to the administration’s policy as he expressed concern over the administration’s handling of the al-Liby case.
“It certainly begs the question whether rushing foreign terrorists into U.S. courts is a strategy that is in the best interests of the United States,” the congressman said.