Nazih Abdul-Hamed al-Ruqai (known by his alias Abu Anas al-Liby) was captured yesterday in Libya. The al Qaeda operative was one of the most wanted terrorists in the World. He is alleged to have a significant role in the 1998 bombings of the U.S. Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania which killed 224 and wounded over four thousand.
The context and date of this photograph is not known, however his facial expression is one which is exceedingly common among those who perpetrate terrorism - that of Anger, Contempt and Disgust. While none of these emotions are expressed in an extreme fashion, they are clearly evident in this example.
Note how al-Ruqai's/al-Liby's jaw is protruding forward. This nonverbal signal has a high correlation with anger. His mouth opening is also foreshortened and his lips are also thinned. In addition his eyebrows are mildly to moderately lowered.
Both Al-Ruqai's/al-Liby's nostrils are also dilated. And although the camera angle makes it difficult to be certain, this nasal flaring appears to be more prominent on his right. A deepening of his right nasal-labial fold is also seen together with significant tension of the "mustache area" (beneath his nose and above his upper lip).
His eye findings are subtle but interesting. While it is possible that his upper eyelids have a "droopiness" (ptosis) which is longstanding or possibly congenital, a partial eyelid closure is seen in both lower to moderate levels of anger as well as contempt. Partially closed upper eyelids are significant contempt amplifiers. His lower eyelids are also opened wider than baseline and show significant tension - which conveys significant anger.
These nonverbal findings are highly consistent with anger, contempt and to a lesser degree disgust. This triad is exceedingly common with those who are preoccupied with hate and, if displayed chronically it is highly predictive toward similar actions (terrorism and revenge-type crimes). If we could see his hands when this photo was captured, they probably would be in fists.
When (not if) you come across this expression next, steer clear - for there is a high propensity towards violence lurking just beneath the surface.
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