US grilling Osama’s IT guy after Delta Force raidKaren Greenberg in New York Post, October 07, 2013
He was Osama’s one-man Geek Squad.
A terror-loving computer nerd who served as one of Osama bin Laden’s key henchmen — and is one of the few surviving original members of al Qaeda — is being questioned by elite American interrogators who want to find out what he’s being doing since he disappeared more than a decade ago.
Abu Anas al-Libi, 49, was one of the FBI’s “most wanted” terrorists until he was snatched off a street in Libya on Saturday during a raid by the US Army Delta Force and whisked aboard USS San Antonio.
“This is a big deal, but it is a bigger deal if he has information on current plots or cells,” a federal source said. “The big question is what has he been doing since 1998 [after the deadly bombings of two American embassies in Africa]? He might have been active or been in hiding. He basically dropped off the map.”
Terrorism expert Karen Greenberg, director of Fordham Law School’s Center on National Security, said it’s “notable that US authorities chose to capture rather than kill him.”
“As a wanted al Qaeda member now in custody, al-Libi can potentially provide the US with the opportunity to get up-to-date information about current-day al Qaeda and about the evolution of al Qaeda from the pre-9/11 days until now,” she said. Bronwyn Bruton, an expert on Africa who serves as deputy director of the Atlantic Council think tank, said it’s “not a stretch” to think Libi, with his computer expertise, has been involved in forging terrorist alliances online.
“The suspicion is that, as an old al Qaeda hand, he’s been helping to make linkages between the new generation of al Qaeda affiliates,” she said. “There are not that many people who know all the players involved.”
She also noted that al Shabaab, the al Qaeda offshoot behind the recent shopping-mall massacre in Kenya, has a “very focused Internet presence” that includes recruiting videos and social media.
“They were the first to do a live Twitter feed during a terrorist attack,” she said, referring to last month’s bloodbath at the Westgate mall in Nairobi.
Although the feds haven’t revealed their plans for Libi, he’s under indictment in Manhattan federal court for allegedly conspiring in the 1998 embassy bombings, which killed 224 people, including 12 Americans.
During the 2001 trial of several co-defendants, al Qaeda rat Jamal Ahmed al-Fadl testified that cyberwork was Libi’s “specialty within al Qaeda” and named him as a “computer engineer” who had “run our computers.”
Another terrorist turncoat, L’Houssaine Kherchtou, testified at the trial that Libi had showed up at his Nairobi apartment in 1993 with two laptops, then spent several days with two cronies snapping photos around the city.
Kherchtou said that he saw Libi carrying a camera near the American Embassy, and that the trio developed their pictures in a makeshift darkroom in his sitting room.
In a guilty plea that was part of his cooperation deal, Fadl told a judge, “Bin Laden looked at the picture of the American Embassy and pointed to where a truck could go as a suicide bomber.”
When truck bombs later exploded outside the embassies in Nairobi and Tanzania, Libi was living in England after being granted political asylum there in 1995. British pols plan to question Home Secretary Theresa May about how Libi got asylum when she appears before Parliament on Tuesday, the Telegraph reported.
In 1999, Libi was arrested by British police but released due to a lack of evidence, and he had already flown the coop by the time he was indicted the following year in the embassy bombings. Cops who went to his Manchester apartment seized a laptop that held a file that offers tips and techniques for al Qaeda operatives.
The guide is “believed to have been written by very well-educated individuals who used information gathered from various sources, including the US Army field-training manual and those of other foreign governments,” said the US Joint Task Force Guantanamo. The task force’s Web site quotes a source who calls it “an overarching basic guide.”
“It covers how to conduct general combat operations, how to escape and evade capture and how to behave in captivity,” the source said. “There is even a chapter on how to poison yourself using your own feces.”