Al-Qaeda suspect dies days before U.S. trial

Abu Anas al-Libi was accused over the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania

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A suspected al-Qaeda militant accused over the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania died on Friday, only a few days before he was due to stand in tri in New York, according to his lawyer.

Nazih Abdul-Hamed al-Ruqai, 50, also known as Abu Anas al-Libi, suffered from advanced liver cancer. Lawyer Bernard Kleinman told The Washington Post that his client’s health deteriorated significantly in the last month and confirmed his death in a hospital in the New York area on Friday.

Kleinman declined to say more about his client’s final hours and said he did not know the exact cause of death, according to The Washington Post.

Um Abdullah, the wife of Ruqai, told The Associated Press on Saturday she learned of her husband's death from the Libyan Embassy in Washington. She accused the American government of "kidnapping, mistreating and killing an innocent man."

Ruqai was on the FBI’s most-wanted list with a $5 million price on his head for allegedly organizing and conducting surveillance for the operation when he was captured by U.S. commandos on Oct. 5, 2013 outside his house in the Libyan capital Tripoli.

Ruqai, a computer expert, pleaded not guilty and argued in court that he was illegally kidnapped and interrogated on board a U.S. warship for seven days before being handed over to FBI agents on Oct. 12.

Ruqai, who also suffered from hepatitis C, also said that he had been on hunger strike when questioned by FBI agents -- during which he made an incriminating statement.

Looking pale and thin, and speaking very quietly through a translator, Ruqai told the court that he told “anyone who asked” that he was on a hunger strike.

He and Khalid al-Fawwaz, another suspect who similarily pleaded not guilty, were due to stand trial on Jan.12 over the attacks which killed 244 people, including 12 Americans, and wounded more than 5,000 people.

However, a third suspect, Egyptian Adel Abdel Bary, pleaded guilty to playing a role in the 1998 attacks last year.

The 1998 attacks introduced al-Qaeda and Osama Ben Laden to the American public for the first time.

[With AFP and AP]

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