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Alleged Top Al-Qaida Operative Pleads Not Guilty

The man the U.S. alleges is the top al-Qaida operative who orchestrated the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania pleaded not guilty to the charges on Tuesday at a Federal Court in Manhattan.

The Wall Street Journal reports:

"Nazih Abdul-Hamed al-Ruqai, also known as Abu Anas al-Libi, made his first court appearance in the U.S. Tuesday afternoon after being charged by federal prosecutors more than a decade ago.

"Mr. Ruqai, 49, whose long, reddish-gray beard dipped over his black shirt, sat silently through the arraignment, which lasted less than an hour. The proceedings were translated into Arabic by a court translator for Mr. Ruqai, who doesn't speak English. U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan said he would appoint a lawyer for Mr. Ruqai because the suspect couldn't afford to hire his own counsel.

"Mr. Ruqai was indicted along with Osama bin Laden and more than a dozen other suspects accused of running a global terrorist conspiracy under the name of al Qaeda."

As we reported, al-Libi was captured during a U.S. commando raid in Libya earlier this month. He was, according to eyewitnesses, "taken peacefully" in Tripoli.

As ABC News reports, after al-Libi was captured he was interrogated aboard a Navy ship in the mediterranean. After that, he was brought into the United States to face trial.

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Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.
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