How was Libya’s al-Qaeda chief arrested?
Abd al-Baset Azzouz, 48, is listed as one of the 10 most dangerous global terrorists
The leader of al-Qaeda in Libya, Abd al-Baset Azzouz, who is reportedly awaiting trial for his suspected involvement in the attack on a U.S. consulate in Libya’s eastern city of Benghazi, was nabbed last month by authorities in Turkey after entering the country with a fake passport, Turkish newspaper Milliyet reported on Thursday.
After Turkish police – in a joint venture with the CIA – discovered that Azzouz had entered Turkey with a fake passport with the name of Libyan citizen Awad Abdalla S. Ahmida, he was arrested while leaving his house in the northwestern city of Yalova. Police also detained two of his laptops, the newspaper reported.
Azzouz was then deported to Jordan on Nov. 24, before being transferred to the United States on suspicion of his involvement in an attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi on Sept. 11, 2012 that killed Washington’s Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens.
The CIA declined to comment on their alleged involvement in the operation and the Department of Defense did not immediately confirm Azzouz’s continued presence in the United States, according to the International Business Times.
Azzouz, 48, was designated by the U.S. State Department as an “al-Qaeda operative and trainer skilled in bomb-making” and is listed by U.S. authorities as one of the 10 most dangerous global terrorists.
A U.S. State Department notice signed by top diplomat John Kerry in September said that Azzouz “committed, or poses a significant risk of committing, acts of terrorism” that threaten America.
A father of four, Azzouz came to the UK from Libya in 1994, where he reportedly began spreading al-Qaeda’s ideology. He was arrested in a raid on his house there in 2006. After being detained for several months, he was released on bail.
He then returned to Libya to oversee the terrorist organization’s operations there, the Sunday Telegraph reports. It is believed he overssaw hundreds of fighters at a training camp in eastern Libya, the Daily Mail reported.
A Library of Congress report on al-Qaeda in Libya stated that Azzouz been close to al-Zawahiri since the 1980s and first traveled to Afghanistan in the early 1990s to join the fight by the mujahidin against the Soviet occupation.
After Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden’s death in 2011, Azzouz was appointed by his successor, Ayman al-Zawahiri, as the head of Libya’s branch.