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

    Clinton, Trump and the 'Woman’s Card'

    Ask supporters of Democratic front-runner in US presidential campaign, and they’ll tell you Republican presidential candidate is playing a dangerous hand

    Russian Censorship Group Seeks Chinese Help to Better Control Internet

    At recent Safe Internet League forum in Moscow, speakers from both nations underscored desire for authorities to further limit and control information online

    Video Makeshift Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Free classes in Islamabad park serve a few of the country’s nearly 25 million out-of-school youths; NGO cites ‘education crisis’

    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.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora