Page 4 of 5   <       >

From CIA Jails, Inmates Fade Into Obscurity

Libi reported that the CIA had taken him from Egypt to several other covert sites, including in Jordan, Morocco and Afghanistan, according to a Libyan security source.

He also claimed that he had been kept someplace very cold and that his CIA captors had told him he was in Alaska, the source said. Human rights groups have suggested that Libi was part of a small group of senior al-Qaeda figures held in a CIA prison in northern Poland.

In Tripoli, Libi joined several other Libyans who had spent time in the CIA's penal system. All were members of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, a network that had plotted for years from exile to overthrow Moammar Gaddafi.

After the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, members of the Libyan network who had been staying there dispersed. The CIA helped Libya's spy agencies track down some of the leaders.

One of them, Abdallah al-Sadeq, was apprehended in a covert CIA operation in Thailand in the spring of 2004, according to Noman Benotman, a former member of the Libyan militant network.

Another, Abu Munder al-Saadi, the group's spiritual leader, was caught in the Hong Kong airport. In both cases, Benotman said, the Libyans were held briefly by the CIA before U.S. agents flew them to Tripoli.

"They realized very quickly that these guys had nothing to do with al-Qaeda," Benotman said in an interview in London. "They kept them for a few weeks, and that's it."

Benotman said he confirmed details of the CIA operations when he was allowed to see the men during a visit to a Tripoli prison this year. The trip was arranged by the Libyan government as part of an effort to persuade the Libyan prisoners to reconcile with the Gaddafi regime.

The CIA has transferred at least two other Libyans to Tripoli, Benotman said. Khaled al-Sharif and another Libyan known only as Rabai were captured in Peshawar, Pakistan, in 2003 and spent time in a CIA prison in Afghanistan, he said.

The Libyan Embassy in Washington did not respond to a faxed letter seeking comment.

A Missing 'Gold Mine'

In Spain, prosecutors have been searching for Nasar, the redheaded al-Qaeda ideologue, for four years.

In 2003, he was indicted by an investigative magistrate in Madrid, accused of helping to build sleeper cells in Spain. A prolific writer and theoretician in the jihadi movement, Nasar had lived in several European countries as well as Afghanistan.

<             4        >

© 2007 The Washington Post Company