Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zeidan.
(Photo: Abdeljalil Bounhar, AP)
TRIPOLI, Libya (USA TODAY) -- Libya's Prime Minister Ali Zeidan has been freed after being kidnapped by armed gunmen early Thursday morning in what opposition rebels say was an arrest over "corruption and security issues" following a U.S. raid Saturday that captured a suspected al-Qaeda terrorist.
Government spokesman Mohammed Kaabar told local news agency, LANA, that Zeidan was on his way back to the office after being "set free."
The Associated Press reported there were indications that Libyan forces intervened and that the prime minister was not freed voluntarily.
Zeidan was snatched from the Corinthia Hotel - where he was staying in Libya's capital Tripoli - at around 4 a.m. local time, with witnesses saying around 150 gunmen drove up to the hotel with some remaining in the lobby while others went up to the 21stt floor where Zeidan's residence is located.
"The Libyan revolutionaries joint unit made the arrest after Nuri Ali Abu Sahmain (president of Libya's General National Congress) issued an order to arrest anyone who could put the national security in danger," said Jamma Zubian, of the High Committee of Revolutionaries, based in Tripoli.
"The revolutionaries have collected a lot of documents against Mr. Zidan about corruption and security issues. He knew about the American raid against Abu Anas el Libi and he did nothing to prevent that."
Parties in the General National Congress condemned the "abduction."
"The abduction is unacceptable," said Mohamed Elhezi, political advisor for the Party of Justice and Construction. "There is no warrant against him. We strongly condemn this action."
The abduction comes following two U.S. raids, which took place in Libya and Somalia on Saturday.
Nazih Abdul-Hamed al-Ruqai, 49, who is known by his alias Abu Anas al-Libi, was captured by U.S. forces and now faces charges of terrorism in the U.S. for involvement in the attacks at the Kenyan and Tanzanian U.S. embassies in 1998, which killed more than 200 people.
Terrorism has continued to thrive in Libya since the fall of the Moammar Gadhafi regime in 2011, which saw the country divided and militia taking control in various areas of the country. The resulting lawlessness has allowed terrorists to take advantage and enabled them to move easily across borders to move weapons and fighters.
"In the eyes of many Libyans and the international community, Libya is now controlled by thugs and militias," said Fawaz Gerges, director of the Middle East Center at the London School of Economics. "No major army, no potent security forces. Anyone can do anything, including the American Special Operations Forces coming to the heart of Tripoli."
Gerges said that operations, such as the U.S. raid on Saturday, weakened the central government with most believing the Libyan authorities had collaborated with U.S. officials.
"It's not just about the American operation," he said. "However, the American operation you might say aggravated the power struggle between the government and various militias. But Libya's problems are much deeper and much more dangerous than just one operation by the Americans."
Mathieu Galtier and Jesse Singal, Special for USA TODAY