Why capture of al-Libi is "a big deal" for the U.S.

(CBS News) Intelligence officials are interrogating a suspected al Qaeda leader Nazih Abdul-Hamed al-Ruqai -- known by his alias, Abu Anas al-Libi. After 15 years on the run, the suspect in the bombings of two American embassies in Africa was captured by American special forces.

The operation was one of two raids carried out over the weekend, in Libya and Somalia.

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The capture is "a big deal", according to CBS News senior correspondent John Miller, a former FBI assistant director, because of the intelligence he may have about the current inner workings of al Qaeda, as well as what he represents to the U.S. in their search for terror suspects. Miller said, "He may have very good intelligence about what is going on inside al Qaeda's command in control now. He also may have intelligence that relates to what's going on in al Qaeda's affiliates in Libya. Why is that so important? If you look at (the Islamist militant group) Ansar al-Sharia in Benghazi -- or groups like that that are extensions of al Qaeda, they're the people behind the Benghazi consulate attack that killed the U.S. ambassador, so that's a potential place to mine. "

Miller added, "But the important part is -- push the intelligence aside. He's wanted for the murder of 225 people in the destruction with truck bombs of two U.S. embassies on August 7, 1998, and that is something they have vowed to track down everyone involved with, no matter where they are in the world."

Al-Libi has been on the FBI's Most Wanted list for nearly two decades.

His interrogation, Miller explained, will be done by a group of specialists in the CIA, the Department of Defense, and the FBI, perhaps among others. "(They are) trained specifically as subject matter experts in what they're looking into, but also in the arts of interrogation."

Watch David Martin's full report on the missions below.

As for the second mission on Saturday in Somalia, Miller said the effort was perhaps affected by flawed intelligence, an unexpected number of assailants or an early give-away of their location.

"The suggestion is either the intelligence was flawed, meaning there were are a lot more bad guys that they ended up confronting than they expected or part of what we're hearing ... is that they ran into somebody who spotted them early on. They had to shoot that person and that attracted attention before they expected to get attention. Their thing is speed, surprise, violence of action. That's the mantra of the Navy SEALs, and once you lose either or both of those first two things, you've damaged the third thing and that means to go to Plan B or Plan C."

The Navy SEALS were caught in a firefight in an attempt to apprehend a senior leader of al-Shabab, the terrorist group responsible for the recent massacre at a shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya. The SEALs were forced to withdraw before capturing him. It is unclear if he was killed or wounded in the attack.

Miller said it appears the SEALs were faced "with an overwhelming force." He added, "At that point the idea was well, let's get in, let's get out, because we can come back and do this another day, a different way."

For more analysis with Miller, watch his full interview above.

  • Amanda Cochran

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