Skip to main content

Former Libyan spy chief arrested in Mauritania

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 4:19 PM EDT, Sat March 17, 2012
Head of Libyan intelligence, Abdullah al-Senussi, 62, pictured in Tripoli on June 22, 2011
Head of Libyan intelligence, Abdullah al-Senussi, 62, pictured in Tripoli on June 22, 2011
  • NEW: U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi is in Libya to lead a congressional delegation
  • Al-Senussi was arrested at an airport in Mauritania on Friday, Libyan authorities said
  • He was the intelligence chief for Libya's Moammar Gadhafi
  • He is wanted by the International Criminal Court

(CNN) -- Libya said Saturday it will seek extradition of its former spy chief who was arrested in Mauritania and is wanted for war crimes by the International Criminal Court.

Mauritanian security authorities arrested Abdullah al-Senussi, Libya's former chief of intelligence and one of the Gadhafi regime's most wanted men.

Al-Senussi, the late Moammar Gadhafi's brother-in-law, was arrested Friday evening at Nouakchott airport, a Libyan transitional government spokesman said.

He was carrying a fake passport from Mali at the time of his arrest.

France is also in the process of requesting al-Senussi's extradition from Mauritania, President Nicolas Sarkozy's office said.

Al-Senussi is the subject of an international arrest warrant following his sentencing in absentia to life imprisonment for the September 19, 1989, terror attack on UTA flight 772, killing 170 people, including 54 French nationals, when the French airliner exploded over Niger.

His arrest Friday was the result of joint efforts by the French and Mauritanian authorities, Sarkozy's office said. The Libyan authorities were kept informed, the statement added.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said that if "Senussi is indeed apprehended, of course that would be good news all around."

"We have a particular interest because of his role in the Lockerbie bombing situation, but it's really good news for the people of Libya."

In 1988, Pan Am Flight 103 exploded over Lockerbie, Scotland, killing all 259 passengers and crew aboard in an attack that was later linked to Libya.

Pelosi, who is leading a congressional delegation that traveled to Libya on Saturday, said al-Senussi's detainment could bring some form of "closure," which she described as "very important."

Interpol had issued a Red Notice for al-Senussi's arrest for alleged crimes against humanity. He is wanted by the International Criminal Court in the Netherlands to stand trial on those charges.

Al-Senussi was detained at the airport along with a younger man believed to be his son, said Libyan interim government spokesman Nasser al-Manee.

CNN's Jomana Karadsheh and Alex Felton contributed to this report.

Part of complete coverage on
updated 7:36 PM EST, Tue March 5, 2013
Shortly after the attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi last September, a phone call was placed from the area.
updated 9:07 PM EST, Thu February 7, 2013
A testy exchange erupted between Sen. John McCain and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey during the latter's testimony about September's deadly attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya.
updated 9:16 AM EST, Thu January 24, 2013
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton took on Republican congressional critics of her department's handling of the deadly September terrorist attack in Libya.
updated 8:22 PM EST, Wed January 23, 2013
The Pentagon released an hour-by-hour timeline of the September 11 assault on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
updated 11:13 AM EST, Tue January 29, 2013
Bilal Bettamer wants to save Benghazi from those he calls "extremely dangerous people." But his campaign against the criminal and extremist groups that plague the city has put his life at risk.
updated 8:16 AM EDT, Sun September 23, 2012
Two former Navy SEALs who died last week in an attack on a U.S. consulate in Libya died after rushing to help their colleagues.
updated 10:24 PM EDT, Tue September 18, 2012
The former Pakistani Ambassador to the UK, Akbar Ahmed, explains why an anti-Islam film has triggered massive protests.
updated 11:01 AM EDT, Fri September 14, 2012
The fall of dictatorships does not guarantee the creation of free societies, says Ed Husain, author of "The Islamist."
updated 11:32 AM EDT, Tue September 25, 2012
Protests have swept the world following the online release of a film that depicts the Prophet Mohammed as a womanizer, child molester and killer.
updated 6:56 PM EDT, Wed September 19, 2012
A satirical magazine pours further oil on the fiery debate between freedom of expression and offensive provocation.
Was the attack on the Libyan U.S. Consulate the result of a mob gone awry, a planned terror attack or a combination of the two?
The images of the American embassy burning in Benghazi might have conjured up memories of Tehran in 1979 but the analogy is false.
updated 10:57 AM EDT, Mon September 17, 2012
Libyan authorities have made more arrests in connection with the attack on the U.S. consulate that left four Americans dead.
updated 7:59 PM EDT, Mon September 17, 2012
Three days before the deadly attack in Benghazi, a local security official says he warned U.S. diplomats about deteriorating security.
For the latest news on developments in the Middle East and North Africa in Arabic.