NEW YORK — An alleged al-Qaida member who was snatched off the streets in Libya and interrogated for a week aboard an American warship pleaded not guilty to bombing-related charges Tuesday in a case that has renewed the debate over how quickly terrorism suspects should be turned over to the U.S. courts.
Despite calls from Republicans in Congress to send him to Guantanamo Bay for indefinite interrogation, Abu Anas al-Libi, also known as Nazih Abdul-Hamed al-Ruqai, became the latest alleged terrorist to face civilian prosecution in federal court in New York, the scene of several such convictions.
The defendant, wearing a thick gray beard, looked frail and moved slowly as he was led into the heavily guarded courtroom in handcuffs. An attorney said he had come to court from a New York hospital, where he was treated for three days for hepatitis C and swollen limbs.
The 49-year-old Libyan was captured by American commandos during an Oct. 5 military raid in the North African country and questioned for a week aboard the USS San Antonio.
He was indicted more than a decade ago in the twin 1998 bombings at the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania that killed 224 people, including a dozen Americans. If convicted, he could get life behind bars.