A man accused of helping plan Al-Qaeda bombings in the 1990s died on Friday just days before his trial was scheduled to occur.
Abu Anas al-Libi pleaded not guilty initially, prompting the need for a trial. The criminal charges he faced were from attacks in Kenya and Tanzania against U.S. embassies in 1998. In those attacks, over 200 people died and roughly 5,000 people were injured.
Al-Libi was seized on the streets of Tripoli, Libya in 2013 when U.S. forces raided the area. He was then brought back to the U.S. in order to stand trial.
Before the plea, al-Libi was accused of sitting on an Al-Qaeda consultation council that existed to discuss and approve terrorist operations. Authorities suspected that he was a computer specialist because he studied electronic and nuclear engineering at Tripoli University before joining the group.
According to the Associated Press, al-Libi’s wife, Um Abdullah, explained that he was sick before he was arrested to be brought to trial. She explained that he had hepatitis C and that she believes he died due to the stress of being arrested and forced back to the U.S.
“I accuse the American government of kidnapping, mistreating and killing an innocent man. He did nothing,” Um Abdullah said.
U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara stated that al-Libi was taken from New York’s Metropolitan Correctional Center to a local hospital before he died.
“Despite the care provided at the hospital, his condition deteriorated rapidly and (he died),” Bharara said.
Bernard Kleinman, al-Libi’s lawyer, believed the trial would not be a fair one due to extreme emotions experienced by American citizens after the terrorist attacks on 9/11. He spoke about the issue in 2013.
“This (trial) involves issues much more tinged with emotion and trauma than other cases. The fact that Mr. al-Libi will be (on trial) in New York, barely a half mile from the World Trade Center site, and that Osama bin Laden and Al-Qaeda will be referenced numerous times in connection with his co-defendants cannot be ignored.”
Although al-Libi died before he could go on trial to be convicted or cleared, another trial is still in the works for Ahmed Abu Khattala, also in U.S. custody. Khattala is a suspected terrorist involved in the 2012 attack in Benghazi that killed four Americans. One of the Americans that died was an ambassador in the U.S. Consulate, Chris Stevens.