News / Middle East

US Captures Benghazi Attack Suspect

US Forces Seize Alleged Ringleader of 2012 Benghazi Attacki
X
June 18, 2014 2:47 AM
The suspected ringleader of the 2012 attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya is headed to the U.S. to face justice. VOA's Jeff Seldin reports from the Pentagon.
The United States says it has captured a key suspect in the 2012 assault on its consulate in Benghazi, Libya, that killed Ambassador Christopher Stephens and three other Americans.

The Defense Department said Tuesday that a military unit, along with law enforcement personnel, arrested Ahmed Abu Khatallah on Sunday and is holding him in a secure location outside of Libya. He was identified as a senior leader of the Benghazi branch of the terror group Ansar al-Sharia in Libya.

Several government officials say he is being held aboard a U.S. naval ship, and President Barack Obama said Khatallah is being brought back to the United States to stand trial.

Prosecutors have charged him with murder and other charges, and intend to try him in the U.S. civilian court system, not the country's military courts.

Military officials gave no details of the operation, but said there were no civilian casualties related to it and that all U.S. personnel involved in it had safely left Libya.
 
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'
In a statement, Obama said he had authorized the mission as part of his "priority to find and bring to justice those responsible for the deaths of four brave Americans." He said the Libyan "will now face the full weight of the American justice system."

A White House spokeswoman said Tuesday the administration has ruled out a military trial for Khatallah at the Guantanamo Bay prison, stating that the civilian criminal justice system has repeatedly proven it can successfully prosecute terror suspects and gather intelligence.

Besides Stephens, the victims included Sean Smith, Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty.

Obama praised U.S. military, law enforcement and intelligence personnel involved in the mission, saying the government will “continue our efforts to bring to justice those who were responsible for the Benghazi attacks.” He added that the United States “will also sustain our support for the Libyan people, as they work to overcome years of tyranny and do the difficult work of building a democracy.”

Secretary of State John Kerry, noting the department “felt the loss of our colleagues in Benghazi acutely, also lauded the U.S. military, saying its “bold action … is a clear reminder to anyone who dares do us harm that they will not escape with impunity.”

The U.S. filed charges against Khatallah and others last year, but until now had not apprehended any of them. Obama said the capture of Khatallah showed that the U.S. "will do whatever it takes to see that justice is done when people harm Americans." He vowed to apprehend others responsible for the attack.

The embassy attack on Sept. 11, 2012, occurred on the anniversary of the massive 2001al-Qaida attacks on the United States that killed nearly 3,000 people.

The circumstances surrounding the attack have proved to be contentious in U.S. politics. Republicans have accused Hillary Rodham Clinton, the possible 2016 Democratic presidential nominee, of failing to provide adequate security at the Benghazi compound to prevent the attacks, which occurred during her time as secretary of state.

Speaking on CNN television, Clinton said that she is still looking for answers, calling the incident "a confusing and difficult time." She also said she hopes Khatallah's arrest will answer such questions as who was behind the attack and what the motivations were.

White House officials at first indicated the attack was related to protests over an anti-Muslim video, similar to demonstrations occurring in the Mideast in early September 2012. But U.S. officials later acknowledged that it was terrorist attack.

Numerous investigations of the Benghazi attack already have been undertaken and a new, Republican-controlled congressional panel is set to hold hearings in the coming weeks.

Khatallah is said to be a senior leader of the Benghazi branch of the terror group Ansar al-Sharia in Libya. The U.S. filed charges against him and others last year, but no one has been arrested until now.

Luis Ramirez contributed to this report from the White House.

Jeff Seldin

Jeff works out of VOA’s Washington headquarters and is national security correspondent. You can follow Jeff on Twitter at @jseldin or on Google Plus.

You May Like

Video Analysts: Beijing Parade a 'Bazaar' of Stolen Technology

Show commemorating victory over Japan in World War II involved long, medium and short range missiles, a range of tanks and 200 fighter aircraft More

Bernie Sanders Surge Reflects US Shift on Socialism

Although most analysts say it is unlikely he will get the Democratic nomination, Sanders' campaign opens up questions and issues that are otherwise marginalized More

Video On IS Frontline, Kurdish Fighters Ready for Offensive

Peshmerga soldiers say although they need more heavy artillery, they are poised to take the fight to the Islamic State extremists on their turf More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: meanbill from: USA
June 17, 2014 7:48 PM
MY OPINION? -- No matter what the US says, I believe the (CIA) killed ambassador Stevens, and the (3) other Americans to conceal the secret US wrongdoings in Libya that ambassador Stevens was investigating, (like the NATO plan to seize the Libyan oil and gas that Europe needs, and all the weapons being shipped to terrorists in Syria)...

EVERYBODY had a gun that night in Benghazi when ambassador Stevens and (3) other Americans were killed, and everybody was shooting their guns, but not one building, or any person from either side was shot or wounded, -- (CRAZY isn't it?) -- Ambassador Stevens and Smith were strangely asphyxiated, and Woods and Doherty were killed by mortar rounds? -- (and not one single person from either side, was shot, wounded or killed?) -- UNBELIEVABLE? .... really.

by: Not Again from: Canada
June 17, 2014 12:27 PM
A tremendous accomplishment for the Obama administration and US security forces; the rest of the terrorist leaders, responsible for the killing of innocent embassy staff, need to be captured/brought to justice, or justice delivered onto them.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Drowned Migrant Toddler Photo Triggers European Outragei
X
Henry Ridgwell
September 04, 2015 11:36 AM
The harrowing picture of a drowned three-year-old Syrian boy washed up on a Turkish beach appears to have galvanized Europe’s leaders into doing more to address the refugee crisis. France, Germany and Italy issued a joint call Thursday for compulsory quotas of refugees for all EU states. But there were chaotic scenes in Hungary as police tried to force migrants off a train heading for Austria. Henry Ridgwell has more. And a caution, some of the images in this report may be disturbing.
Video

Video Drowned Migrant Toddler Photo Triggers European Outrage

The harrowing picture of a drowned three-year-old Syrian boy washed up on a Turkish beach appears to have galvanized Europe’s leaders into doing more to address the refugee crisis. France, Germany and Italy issued a joint call Thursday for compulsory quotas of refugees for all EU states. But there were chaotic scenes in Hungary as police tried to force migrants off a train heading for Austria. Henry Ridgwell has more. And a caution, some of the images in this report may be disturbing.
Video

Video Russians Observe 11th Anniversary of Beslan School Attack

This week, Russians have been observing the 11th anniversary of the attack by Islamic militants on a school in Russia's North Caucasus region that killed more than 330 hostages, including 186 children. The three-day siege and massacre that started on September 1, 2004 took place in Beslan, a town in the republic of North Ossetia, and is one of the bloodiest terrorist acts ever in Russia. VOA's Mike Richman reports.
Video

Video Native Americans Debate: Father Serra, Saint or Sinner?

Pope Francis will canonize an 18th century missionary to Spanish California during a papal visit to the United States this month.  But some Native Americans have criticized the elevation to sainthood of the missionary priest, Junipero Serra. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan has more from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Calais School Offers Another Face of Europe’s Migrant Crisis

Europe is facing mounting criticism over how it’s handling its biggest migration crisis since World War II. But not all Europeans believe building walls or passing repressive policies are the answer. A school for migrants in the French port city of Calais, is opening doors and building bonds across nationalities. VOA's Lisa Bryant reports.
Video

Video Kurdish Fighters on IS Frontline Ready for Offensive

Finger on the trigger, the Kurdish Peshmerga soldier stared across the dust at a village taken over by Islamic State extremists. The Kurdistan’s Khazir frontline, just 45 minutes from the Islamic State stronghold of Mosul. And at this point, the militants were less than two kilometers away. VOA's Sharon Behn reports.
Video

Video China Announces Troop Cuts at WWII Parade

Chinese President Xi Jinping Thursday announced plans to cut the world’s largest military force by 300,000 troops. The announcement was made during a massive military parade to commemorate victory over Japan in World War II. The event was shunned by most Western leaders and for some is raising fresh concerns about China’s military ambitions. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video Russia-Japan Relations Cool as Putin Visits China for WWII Anniversary

Russian President Vladimir Putin is in Beijing for commemorations of the 70th anniversary of China's WWII victory over Japan. Putin is expected to visit Japan later this year, but tensions between Tokyo and Moscow over islands disputed since the war, and sanctions over Ukraine, could pour cold water on the plan. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Yemen ‘on Brink of Disaster’ as Medical Shortages Soar

Aid agencies warn Yemen is on the brink of humanitarian disaster – with up to half a million children facing severe malnutrition, and hospitals running out of basic medicines. There are fears Yemen's civil war could escalate as the coalition led by Saudi Arabia tries to drive back Houthi rebels, who seized control of much of the country earlier this year. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Apps Helping Kenyan Businesses Stay Ahead of Counterfeiters

Counterfeit goods in Kenya cost the government as much as $1 billion each year in lost tax revenues. The fake goods also hurt entrepreneurs who find it hard to carve out a niche in the market and retain customers. But as Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi, information technology is being used to try to beat the problem.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.

VOA Blogs