Al-Liby’s Tale

What It’s Like to Be Snatched by the Delta Force

Swarmed, Tasered, and trundled into a vehicle blindfolded—and that was just the beginning for alleged al Qaeda member Abu Anas al-Liby. Now he’s complaining about his treatment.


Poor little jihadi!

Just listen to the accused al Qaeda operative Abu Anas al-Liby recount how he was treated by men who suddenly swarmed him outside his home in Tripoli as he returned from morning prayers last October.

“I was Tasered in both my legs and hands,” he says at the start of a tale told in an affidavit unsealed this week in a motion to suppress incriminating statements about his alleged complicity in the 1998 U.S. Embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania.

He rightly assumes that his captors were members of the U.S. Army Delta Force. He recalls that one of them spoke to him in English with an American accent:

“We know you can understand us, just keep quiet.”

He was then trundled into what he says was either a minivan or an SUV.

“[I] had ear muffs placed over my ears, my eyes were blindfolded, and I was placed in handcuffs,” he reports.

One of the men sat on him and stayed there as the vehicle sped to a building of some kind.

“While in the building, I was kept on a hard floor in handcuffs and in leg irons,” he says. “Neither the ear muffs nor the blindfold were ever removed from me. I was not offered any food, only water to drink. The people who kidnapped me never identified themselves, never told me how long I would be held, or where I was going to be transported.”

This from a guy who when he fled arrest in England left behind a computer containing “The Al Qaeda Manual.” The manual extols “the dialogue of bullets, the ideals of assassination, bombing and destruction,” and says a jihadi’s duties include kidnapping and murdering “enemy personnel as well as foreign tourists.”

And he seems to have made some suppositions not only about who grabbed him but also where they might be transporting him.

“I was convinced that I would end up in one of the CIA’s black site torture prisons in Pakistan or the Bagram Air Base in Kabul, Afghanistan,” he says. “I felt I never would see my family ever again. I lived in morbid fear or my imminent death where its only precursor would be torture.”

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So much for hungering for martyrdom and all those virgins waiting in paradise.

“Sometime in the evening, I was brought, still blindfolded, with ear muffs, and handcuffs, to a small boat, which I believe was a Zodiac-type vessel,” he continues in his account. “The Zodiac transported me to another vessel. During the entire ride I felt sick and nauseous as the Zodiac seemed to bounce uncontrollably.”

Seasick! A rough ride!

“I feared that I was going to be tossed overboard.”

But there was no overboarding, not even waterboarding as he passed from the Zodiac to what he would later learn was the U.S.S. San Antonio. The ship embarked on a week-long voyage to America.

“I was subjected to daily interrogation by agents of the CIA…I know this because the interrogator identified himself as an agent of the CIA…I was told, ‘This is the easiest step,’ and the next step would be harder and then another step after that would be even harder.”


“I took this to mean that the physical psychological torture would only increase if I failed to cooperate with my questioners. These threats continued the entire time I was on board the ship.”


“I was never told what would happen to me after this interrogation was finished. At no time was I ever told that I would be turned over to a civilian criminal court for prosecution in the Embassy Bombings case.”

Never told he might actually be treated like a criminal!

“As with my initial abduction, I was certain that, if lucky, I would end up at Guantanamo Bay, but more likely at a CIA torture prison.”

Meanwhile, question after question!

“While I was interrogated for hours on end, I cannot say precisely how long each session was as I did not have a watch.”

No watch!

“Furthermore, I was kept in complete isolation and had no idea when was day and when was night. I was completely disoriented and confused.”

And that’s not all!

“When interrogated, I was in a small room that had a video camera set-up, no furniture at all, and was always interrogated forced to sit or lie on the floor.”

No chair!

“The room where I was kept, while not being interrogated, also had no furniture whatsoever. There was no bed, no chair, no sink, no toilet, no window—nothing at all to alleviate the pain and confusion I had.”

Not even a mattress!

“They gave me a blanket to sleep on, and a blanket as a pillow and a blanket to cover me. That was all. I was cold all the time.”


“The light was kept on all of the time, every day, for 24 hours with no let up. This made it all but impossible to sleep and rest.”

No shut-eye!

“I was forced to take my meals in this room.”

Not even a dining nook!

“There was a solid door so I could not see or hear any other people.”

No company!

“Whenever I had to use the toilet I had to knock on the door and ask permission.”

Not even an en suite cell!

“What the room did have was a camera so I was under surveillance.”

Not even privacy!

“I did not have any books, including a Quran. I did not know which direction was east, nor the times of day, so I could not pray as I should have.”

There he may have a legitimate complaint, though the al Qaeda manual makes no mention of providing captives with a Bible.

“Whenever I left the room I had ear muffs, handcuffs and a blindfold placed upon me.”

But there were no beatings, no waterboarding, no rough stuff at all.

“My interrogators never informed me that I had the right to remain silent, the right to an attorney, or any human rights one would expect from America.”

Not granted the rights and freedoms of the Great Satan!

Or at least until he arrived at America’s shore.

“After how many days I did not know I was transported again and eventually placed on a plane. There were six persons on the plane, including FBI agents and an interpreter.”

The agents say in a document attached to the affidavit that they explained to al-Liby he was going to face criminal charges in a civilian court in New York and that whatever he told the CIA interrogators would not be used in the case. The agents also say they gave him the standard Miranda warnings, which al-Liby implicitly acknowledges in the affidavit by reporting they presented him with a standard form in Arabic waiving his right to remain silent. Al-Liby informed the agents that he had been so outraged by his treatment that he had gone on hunger strike.

“Although I told the FBI that had gone on hunger strike and had not eaten for at least three days, and had not slept for two days, I was handed a ‘waiver form’ and told to sign it. After repeated verbal pressure to sign it, I did so,” he reports in his affidavit.

What he does not say is that the agents offered him an opportunity to rest and get a checkup from the medical personnel aboard the plane. The agent says they asked him an hour later if he felt up to speaking to them, and he allowed that he still felt tired but would be able to answer questions.

By al-Liby’s account, “Being confused and disoriented, with no understanding where I was, or what would happen to me, I gave the statement the FBI has. I felt the only way to be treated fairly and humanely was if I did what I was told—after all, I had been subject to interrogation for more than a week and I felt there was little, if any, difference between the actions of the FBI and those of the CIA. After more than a week of interrogation by the CIA, any sense of asserting my own rights, or having the ability to independently determine if I wished to voluntarily speak, was long since gone.”

The agents report that when they sought to question him further the following day, al-Liby announced that he wanted to speak to an attorney.

“At that point, all questioning immediately ceased,” the agents say.

On Wednesday, Manhattan federal Judge Lewis Kaplan considered a pre-trial defense motion to suppress the statements that al-Liby had already made to the FBI. The judge seemed less than moved by al-Liby’s affidavit, a translation from Arabic into English that happened to have been certified as accurate on September 11, 2014.

“He would have preferred to have been given a bed rather than a blanket on the floor,” the judge said.

This sworn document dated on the 13th anniversary of the attack on the World Trade Center could be taken as proof that although the mass murder of thousands of innocents in downtown Manhattan so enraged us that we for a time betrayed our own principles, we are now back from the torture and the secret prisons.

We are again ourselves.

“He does not claim that anyone laid a hand on him from the time he got on the San Antonio until you appeared in this courtroom,” the judge remarked to al-Liby’s attorney.

The judge nonetheless agreed to hold a hearing on whether to admit the statements. It is slated for October 15.

What is already clear is that al-Liby’s voyage did not compromise his ability to bullshit.

“After America had acted so forthrightly in helping to overthrow Col. Qaddafi, I expected much more from this country. I now know better,” he says at the end of the affidavit.

Poor little jihadi!