Al-Libi's sons and wife say they believed they were under surveillance over the past two years in Libya and expected anything -- even a drone strike. But Saturday's raid still came as a surprise.
"There was no longer any talk about him in the media, so we felt somewhat reassured. He even stopped taking his weapon or his sons with him or hiring private security -- he was living his life normally," Rahman said.
Counterterrorism analysts told CNN in fall 2012 that al Libi may not have been apprehended at the time because of the delicate security situation in much of Libya, where ex-jihadists -- especially those who once belonged to the Libyan Islamic Fighters Group -- held considerable sway after the campaign against and ultimate ouster of longtime leader Gadhafi.
It was not clear for how long, and how much, Libya's government knew about al Libi's presence, or whether other governments had approached them to arrest al Libi. The fact that there's no extradition treaty between Libya and the United States further complicates matters.
The fact that al Libi is in U.S. hands, of course, changes everything.
In addition to standing trial, al Libi will be questioned about what he knows about al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations.
And if he talks, he could offer valuable information on men he worked with inside Libya, as well as al Qaeda generally.
"All his recent years of activation is going to come under very, very close and important scrutiny," said CNN's Robertson.