Early one morning last October, Nazih Abdul-Hamed al-Ruqai headed home after morning prayers in Tripoli, Libya, and was snatched by U.S. forces for his alleged role in the 1998 embassy bombings in Africa. Thanks to a nearby security camera, we now know what such a kidnapping looks like.
The video, obtained by the Washington Post's Adam Goldman and embedded below, shows how two white vehicles cornered Ruqai's sedan on a street curb, then "at least three men, with guns drawn, jumped out of the van as another car blocked Ruqai's escape while a third idled down the street."
Less than two minutes after the Libyan was first cornered, American Special Operations forces sped away with the suspect and his vehicle. Ruqai was taken to a Libyan military base and then to the USS San Antonio, an American warship, waiting off the coast in the Mediterranean Sea.
Ruqai's arrest, carried out in a joint operation by the CIA, the FBI and the U.S. Army's elite Delta Force, ended a 13-year hunt for a man once thought to be close to Osama bin Laden. Ruqai is accused of participating in the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in East Africa, which resulted in more than 200 deaths.
Ruqai, also known as "Anas al-Libi," insists that he broke with Osama bin Laden's group four years before the attacks, and that he most recently worked for a goal the Americans shared: the overthrow of Libyan dictator Muammar Gadhafi.
The Ruqai operation was unusual in that military troops rarely work on the ground with CIA officers on these sorts of detention missions. Former FBI agent Ali Soufan—who worked on the embassy bombings, and who is no fan of the United States' most controversial methods of intelligence-gathering and prisoner treatment—told the Post that Ruqai's capture was proper.
"He was part of a small group that did the casing for the Nairobi embassy," Soufan said. "I think he is part of the conspiracy to blow up the embassy. You don't do a casing of an embassy because you want to do landscaping. You do it because you want to blow it up."