A Libyan separatist suspected in the deadly attack on Americans on September 11, 2012 in Benghazi was captured and will be tried in the U.S.. This is the first apprehension of an alleged perpetrator in the assault that killed U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three others.
Ahmed Abu Khattala, a senior leader of the Benghazi branch of the terror group Ansar al-Shariah in Libya, will be tried in U.S. court. Abu Khattala was captured by American forces Sunday and is being held in an undisclosed location outside Libya. President Barack Obama said Abu Khattala will “now face the full weight of the American justice system.”
Last year, the U.S. filed charges against Abu Khattala and a number of others in a sealed complaint in U.S. District Court in Washington. The complaint, unsealed Tuesday, charges Abu Khattala with providing, attempting and conspiring to provide material support to terrorists that resulted in death. It also charges Abu Khattala of discharging, brandishing, using, carrying and possessing a firearm during a crime of violence. Lastly he is charged with killing a person in the course of an attack on a federal facility while conspiring to do so.
Officials said he could face the death penalty if convicted of the latter charge. Until now, no one had been arrested in the attack in which a separatist group set fire to the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi.
As the U.S. raid took place Sunday, forces loyal to a renegade general attacked Islamic militant camps in Benghazi as part of a new assault against the groups. Airstrikes targeted the camps on behalf of Gen. Khalifa Hifter, a top military official under defected dictator Moammar Gadhafi.
It is not clear what the strikes targeted. The general later said the clashes killed five of his fighters. Hifter’s forces have targeted Ansar al-Shariah, a hard-line Islamist militia blamed for the attack on the U.S. Consulate there.
According to a U.S. official, the operation that captured Abu Khattala was planned over a long period of time and executed by U.S. special operations forces.
This report was compiled with information from The Associated Press.