Al Qaeda Suspect Arraigned in Manhattan Courtroom

Abu Anas al-Libi pleads not guilty to embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania.
3:00 | 10/15/13

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Transcript for Al Qaeda Suspect Arraigned in Manhattan Courtroom
This is a special room. I'm -- -- -- with an ABC news digital special report one of the world's most wanted terrorist suspects was in New York courtroom today arraigned on terror charges. Navy seal team six captured Abu announce a -- on October 5 outside his home in Libya. The al-Qaeda operatives is accused of played a role in the bombing two US embassies in 1998. BC's -- interest he was in that courtroom for today's proceeding. -- in -- out to Aaron with the latest errant. Him. Just study Dan because Ottawa -- -- Libby was snatched off the dusty streets of Tripoli. Just what -- week and a half -- ten days ago or so and now he appears in a wood paneled gilded courtroom. Here in lower Manhattan where he's been wanted for the lasted ten years under a federal indictment charging him with a -- terror offenses. For those 1998 attacks against the American embassies in Kenya and and -- and intensity up. Those attacks been killed more than 200 people and Al Libya's one of a number of people charged. A but he is one of the of the remaining few al-Qaeda leaders thought to be left and here he was. Looking nothing like he is wanted poster the FBI has put out there for the last fifteen years. But a much older more -- man hollowed -- somebody with a graying beard that was kind of scraggly. And and nothing like that the fearsome terrorist that he is portrayed to be and he spent the last week. Aboard a navy ship being interrogated by -- high value detainee interrogation group. FBI CIA military trying to glean any kind of information they can out of him. Now as he appears here in federal court behind me. They'll be assigned an attorney and it's not going to be from the federal defender's office here in New York because they represent other defendants in the case of -- -- -- -- It's what he will get another point of court appointed attorney. A little bit later on this month when he's due back in court sometime around the October 22. On the -- was speaking in a gravelly voice to to the judge answering only a few simple questions about the status of all things. Of his finances and he confirmed to the judge simply by saying the Arabic word mound -- yes. That that he could not afford an attorney that one would indeed have to be appointed for him. And he was sent back case in handcuffs. Shackled at the -- is gray sweatpants and his black top. Back into the custody of the US marshals he's going to be held out here in lower Manhattan for the duration. No longer. Somebody who the US can interrogate but if he cooperates he can't be questioned. -- for any information that he knows. And what he knows it may be critical not only the planning. Then federal prosecutors say winning in another room reunion -- Tanzania attacks but. His highest -- two core al-Qaeda and he goes back to -- early days of the organization to Osama bin Laden. Fox who have worked on his path to -- those American embassies in Africa and so it's thought he may know something about Al qaeda's current state. Its current operatives its current operations. If in fact they could get any of that -- of -- on board that ship. Then back to you. All right ABC's -- deter ski in lower Manhattan Aaron thank you for that I want to bring in our chief investigative correspondent Brian Ross has been very closely following this case and Brian INS and Justice Department so that they wouldn't let a -- have a lawyer -- he appear in federal court he has done that now what is the process going forwards. The process going forward for him now is the standard process for any criminal defendant they'll be a further arraignment. His loyal get a chance to see the evidence brought against them and the prepare for -- trial. But there is some concern -- by a federal officials that we have talked to whether he'll live long enough to face trial. He is apparently suffering from hepatitis C. And the reason he was brought to New York so quickly after his capture. Was the fact that the interrogators onboard the US navy ship the USS San Antonio were concerned he might not make it because of the deteriorating health. And so he was rushed here over the weekend. Given care at a hospital in the New York area. And he's now getting a lawyer -- pretty good medical care and did the US know that before they captured him. It's not clear anyone they knew that he was always described as a -- in person and the fact it was. The delta force that have been conducting surveillance on him for several months in Tripoli Libya. He is family after his captured did tell reporters in Tripoli that he was seriously ill. And of course there have been some critics very vocal. About trying -- a -- in new York and San that in fact it could lead to another terror attack on US soil as a matter fact this forced. I have threatened to retaliate what is the security then is being taken. Take it seriously. Well there's serious security but it is so far I think it demonstrates that those concerns -- enough. Well founded the US marshals and the FBI. Certainly have the manpower and -- know all of the wherewithal. To protect him and to protect the courthouse as well. So I don't think those concerns at this point are of any great interest to either local or federal law enforcement officials. They are taking care to make sure he -- that happens but it is not an overriding concern. He is considered a high valued target one of Osama bin Laden's senior aides. Spending several years in Iran and he was -- that navy ship for about a week is that long enough. Four -- for investigators to gather significant information. It may not have -- they in fact had planned on weeks we were told and as I said they moved about because of concerns about his health and at this point. Those interrogations without telling him he had the right to a lawyer and the rights remain silent you have pretty much ended. As -- pointed out he could agree to cooperate if he's persuaded he might get a better deal. It's not clear what will happen next and that count. But this goes along with the Obama administration's planned to shut down Guantanamo they don't want to -- anybody have more to Guantanamo as they try to shut -- down. A pledge that president made during his first campaign. And so this goes hand in hand with that -- two step process by which. Terror suspects well when they are captured our first interrogated before being turned over to the FBI and put through the criminal justice system. Friday it would if you can't maybe dive into a little bit of that because I know that there are some differences when questioning a suspect in international waters. As opposed to on domestic soil. -- the all the rules that apply. For a police and FBI agents would not apply. But there was a time when the CIA might have tried to use what they called the enhanced interrogation techniques which included waterboarding. And other methods that were. Widely considered to be torture those and -- the CIA has stopped that. And now what they say a million it was a lot of time to -- his confidence they had a couple of different approaches. A 10 we know what all approach that they knew so much about him that it was futile for him not to continue to talk. The other approach was because his family actually saw his capture. In Tripoli outside his home -- ten days ago. That they would persuade him that it would be in the best interest of his family for him to cooperate with the US so it's not clear how far they got in either one of those approaches. They did not have the weeks they thought they would and speaking of his family his wife has been talking is that correct. She has spoken with reporters in Tripoli to say that he's ill. That he was no longer part of al-Qaeda they actually denied it. But the record there is pretty clear that he was one of the core al-Qaeda founding fathers in fact. Did and I think others will testify and he gets to trial. That he did conduct surveillance on the two embassies. -- -- Kenya and Tanzania prior to the attack and was very close to Osama bin Laden. The other key thing I think -- that we were told by federal officials. Is that he was also considered one of Al -- computer experts. And his knowledge there about how -- members of al-Qaeda leaders communicated that they have special codes. Passwords. That might have been very important. ABC's Brian Ross on this very high profile case with obviously international attention and that -- possibility of international implications. Brian thank you for that are of course we have a complete report on On today's arraignment on Dan Cutler or -- -- -- -- special report.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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