By TOM HAYS Associated Press
NEW YORK (AP) -- A Libyan charged in the deadly 1998 al-Qaida bombings of U.S. embassies in Africa pleaded not guilty Tuesday to terrorism charges.
Abu Anas al-Libi entered the plea in federal court in Manhattan 10 days after he was captured during an Oct. 5 military raid in Libya. The 49-year-old al-Libi was interrogated aboard a U.S. Navy warship for a week before being brought to New York on Saturday.
Al-Libi, who has a thick gray beard, kept his hands folded on his lap as the judge read the charges Tuesday. He entered his plea through his attorney. He was handcuffed and led out of court after the judge ordered him detained as a flight risk.
Al-Libi, whose full name is Nazih Abdul-Hamed al-Ruqai, is charged in a Manhattan indictment in bombings that killed 224 people, including a dozen Americans. He is accused of helping plan and conduct surveillance for the bombings of U.S. embassies in Nairobi, Kenya and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
A prosecutor said Tuesday it's not a death penalty-eligible case.
Al-Libi's family and former associates have denied he was ever a member of al-Qaida and said he has lived an ordinary life since coming home in 2011.
His prosecution in the United States continues a policy of bringing suspected al-Qaida sympathizers and operatives to civilian courts rather than military tribunals. The civilian court prosecutions have continued before and after President Barack Obama's administration was forced to reverse its plans to prosecute admitted 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and several others in federal court in Manhattan and instead bring them before military tribunals.
Al-Libi has been on the FBI's most wanted terrorists list since it was introduced shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. A reward of $5 million was offered for his capture.
Associated Press writer Larry Neumeister in New York and Eileen Sullivan in Washington contributed to this report.
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