The wife of an alleged al-Qaida leader, who was captured by the US in Libya, said that her husband used to work as a security guard for Osama Bin Laden but had long left his terrorist organisation.

Nazih Abdul-Hamed al-Ruqai, known by his alias Anas al-Libi, was snatched by a commando unit in Tripoli in an operation that has strained diplomatic relations between the US and Libya.

Al-Libi is believed to be the mastermind of the 1998 bombings at American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.

However, his wife Umm Abdul Rahman told the CNN he had left Bin Laden's cell two years earlier.

"I am sure of what I am saying - he did not take part in any bombing anywhere in the world," Rahman said.

"He participated in the jihad in Afghanistan. He was a member of al-Qaida and he was personal security for Bin Laden - that's true - but he did not take part in any operation."

Rahman said al-Libi was abducted by a commando team made up of at least 10 men in four vehicles, as he was returning home early in the morning.

She repeated claims made by al-Libi's son Abdullah al-Raghie, who said the terrorist suspect had been seized by masked gunmen some of whom were Libyans.

"What I saw were Libyans. Maybe they had Americans with them, but I didn't see them because there was more than one car. They say there were 10 people involved, but I believe there were more than 10," Rahman said.

"I couldn't count them because there were many of them. I can't confirm if they were Americans or not, but what I saw were Libyans. "

However the Libyan government has distanced itself from the operation and has asked for clarifications from Washington.

The government led by Prime Minister Ali Zeidan said it "contacted the American authorities and asked it to present clarifications" regarding the al-Libi abduction as it believes Libyan nationals should be tried in their own country.

US Secretary of State John Kerry defenced the legitimacy of the US Army's Delta Force snatch operation saying al-Libi was a "legal and appropriate target".

"I hope the perception is in the world that people who commit acts of terror and who have been appropriately indicted by courts of law, by the legal process, will know that United States of America is going to do anything in its power that is legal and appropriate in order to enforce the law and to protect our security," Kerry said.

"We hope that this makes clear that the United States of America will never stop in the effort to hold those accountable who conduct acts of terror.

"Members of al-Qaida and other terrorist organizations literally can run but they can't hide," he added.

Al-Libi, 49, was on the FBI's most-wanted list with a $5 million bounty on his head for the bombings in Dar es Salaam and Nairobi that killed more than 220 people in 1998.

"[al-Lib] is currently lawfully detained by the US military in a secure location outside of Libya," said Pentagon's chief spokesman George Little.

As al-Libi was captured, a simultaneous US operation to apprehend Abdulkadir Mohamed Abdulkadir, a leader of Somalia's terrorist group al-Shabaab, was aborted.