News / Middle East

    Benghazi Suspect Arrest Could Provide Valuable Information

    Victor Beattie
    The capture of Libyan terror suspect Ahmed Abu Khatallah could provide valuable information about the September 11, 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya that killed four Americans, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens.  While viewed as a political victory for President Barack Obama, the volatile issue of how his administration handled the attack appears unlikely to go away anytime soon.

    The president said Tuesday that the Khatallah's capture near Libya’s second-largest city on Sunday sends a message around the world.

    "When Americans are attacked, no matter how long it takes, we will find those responsible and we will bring them to justice, and that’s the message I sent the day after it happened and, regardless of how long it takes, we will find you, and I want to make sure that everybody around the world hears that message very clearly," the president said, adding that Khattalah will now face the "full weight" of the American justice system.
    According to Colin Clarke, a counter-insurgency analyst with the RAND Corporation,  this first arrest, two years after the Benghazi attack is symbolically important.

    "Just because of the magnitude of the Benghazi attacks, all the political follow on that’s occurred in the United States," he said. "But, if this individual, as alleged, was a key member of this attack, then certainly was some operational expertise, some terrorist tradecraft he was capable of striking again.  So, I think both operational and symbolically important."
     
    Ahmed Abu Khatallah
     
    • Thought to be 43
    • State Department says he is a leader of Ansar al-Sharia
    • Formed an Islamist militia
    • Jailed for several years by Moammar Gadhafi
    • Denies involvement in 2012 attack on U.S. consulate in Benghazi
    • The U.S. had named him a 'specially designated global terrorist'

    A Reuters news agency report said that U.S. ambassador at the U.N., Samantha Power, told the Security Council that Katallah had been planning to attack more Americans and that justified his capture.  

    The White House said Khatallah, identified as a senior leader of the terrorist group Ansar al-Sharia in Libya, will not be sent to the U.S. military detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Instead, he will face murder charges in a civilian court, where other terror suspects have been tried.

    Clarke hopes that pre-trial interrogation of the suspect will yield valuable intelligence on his accomplices.

    "What intel can be gleaned from the suspect is to be determined, but this is probably one of the best chances the United States has, once they get to interrogate this individual, to learn some more information and put together a more detailed sketch of what this [terror] network looked like," Clarke noted.

    Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell told reporters that “the most valuable thing we can get from this terrorist is information about who else was involved” in the attack.  He said “we’ll be watching closely to see how much information they glean from him and how they’re handling it.”

    Congress has been holding numerous investigations into the handling of the Benghazi attack by the Obama Administration, which originally said it was the result of the release of an anti-Muslim video.  Later, it acknowledged it was a terrorist attack.

    Hillary Clinton, then the Secretary of State, has been accused of providing inadequate security at the consulate.  Clinton, seen as a potential 2016 presidential candidate, said Tuesday she is pleased with the capture of Khatallah.  She said he has been very much on the mind of U.S. officials since the attack and should help piece together what happened.

    Pat Smith, mother of one of the slain Americans, Sean Smith, said, when told of the arrest, she still has not received a telephone call from the government about why her son died.  He said she deserves to know and hopes such a tragedy doesn’t happen to anyone else.

    University of Virginia political scientist Larry Sabato says Katallah’s capture is good news for the White House and Clinton.

    "Benghazi isn’t going to go away.  Grabbing somebody now, a couple of years after the fact, is not enough for those who believe the whole Benghazi episode was mishandled and those American lives didn’t have to be lost," Sabato said. "Having said that, it’s certainly good news that one of the principals involved in this will be brought to justice.  Now, others are criticizing the fact that we’re going to try him apparently in civilian courts.  I don’t think that’s finalized yet, but many Republicans want him to go to Guantanamo.  Well, Guantanamo is highly controversial abroad and President Obama pledged to close Guantanamo.  By the way, it is a pledge that he has utterly for at least five and one-half years."

    Sabato says the United States is in the midst of a campaign season leading to congressional elections in November that could see opposition Republicans take control of the Senate, along with the House of Representatives, thus rendering Obama less influential in his final two years in office.

    Sabato says he does not expect the arrest to have any major impact on ongoing congressional hearings into Benghazi, except to give Democrats some debating points.

    You May Like

    Top US General: Turkish Media Report ‘Absurd'

    General Dunford rejects ‘irresponsible' claims of coup involvement by former four-star Army General Campbell, who led NATO forces in Afghanistan before retiring earlier this year

    Video Saving Ethiopian Children Thought to Be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at efforts of one African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children

    Protests Over Western Troops Threaten Libyan 'Unity' Government

    Fears mount that Islamist foes of ‘unity' government plan to declare a revolutionaries' council in Tripoli

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Mark from: Virginia
    June 18, 2014 3:08 PM
    As usual, this capture, future trial and expected punishment has turned from a matter of justice to one of political debate and possible political gain in forthcoming Congressional elections. Instead of saying "Justice will be served and questions will be answered," it is "hmm, what can I do to exploit this for political gain so I can keep my pitiful seat in Congress and keep getting paid an obscene amount of money for doing very little in the way of help for the American people."

    The solution is simple; treat him as the animal that he is, and execute him for the animal that he is after ripping apart his brain to find the answers we seek. But no, the humanitarian lobbies will keep him alive, forbid any 'cruel and unusual' treatment to get information and keep him alive at Gitmo for years at taxpayer's expense to he can be someday traded over in a prisoner swap because a careless soldier gets himself captured.
    Of course, if we do execute this terrorist, we would HAVE to do so as humanely as possible, and make it as comfortable as possible so no one's conscience is disturbed that an animal was put down. Forbid that we make his last moments drawing breath as one of fear and terrible, fleeting pain....

    by: meanbill from: USA
    June 18, 2014 10:54 AM
    Is there one person in this whole-world, that could believe that this guy is smart enough, to plan and lead the 09-11-2012 attack on the US compound in Benghazi Libya, (and kill ambassador Stevens and Smith by smoke asphyxiation, and Doherty and Woods, who were helping in the Stevens Libyan investigations, by mortar rounds), when it would have been a lot simpler to just kill them by bullets, since everybody had guns? Everybody had a gun that night in Benghazi, and everybody was shooting them, (but), not one building was shot-up, and not one single person was shot, killed or wounded?-- Somehow, with everybody shooting guns, two Americans were asphyxiated, and two others killed by mortar rounds? -- and nobody got shot, killed or wounded?

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunitiesi
    X
    VOA News
    July 25, 2016 5:09 PM
    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Four Brother Goats Arrive in Brooklyn on a Mission

    While it's unusual to see farm animals in cities, it's become familiar for residents of Brooklyn, New York, to see a little herd of goats. Unlike gas-powered mowing equipment, goats remove invasive weeds quietly and without adding more pollution to the air. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this is a pilot program and if it proves to be successful, the goat gardener program will be extended to other areas of New York. Faith Lapidus narrates.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora