A senior U.S. lawmaker says terror suspects, including the accused leader of the deadly 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, should be held at the U.S. military detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Representative Mike Rogers, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, told CNN Sunday that Ahmed Abu Khatallah should be treated as an enemy combatant and not as a criminal on U.S. soil, arguing that doing so would be costly and could hamper the ability of U.S. officials to extract valuable intelligence from suspected terrorists.
Khatallah pleaded ‘not guilty’ to terrorism charges Saturday in a federal court in Washington.
Rogers said Khatallah has been "compliant but not cooperative" with U.S. interrogators.
The United States alleges Khatallah led a conspiracy that resulted in the September 11, 2012, attack that killed U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.
That crime is punishable by up to life in prison, but the government is expected to file additional charges that could lead to the death penalty.
Khatallah's next court appearance is scheduled for Wednesday.
U.S. Special Forces and the FBI arrested Khatallah earlier this month near Benghazi. Authorities questioned him aboard the Navy ship that brought him to U.S. soil.
Republicans in Congress accuse the Obama administration and the State Department of being negligent in providing enough security in a volatile region prone to terrorism.
The case also represents a test of the Obama administration's goal of prosecuting terror suspects in civilian courts in the face of Republican critics who say such defendants are not entitled to the protections of the American legal system.