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 covering a wide variety of subjects, from the nature of the growing terror threat in Northern Africa to China’s crackdown on Tibet and the struggle over immigration reform in the United States. You can follow Jeff on Twitter at @jseldin or on Google Plus.

You May Like

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

Secret Service Chief Under Fire for White House Security Breach

Julia Pierson faces tough questions from lawmakers after recent intrusion at White House, says: 'It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly' More

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

Thousands have volunteered to go to counties, rural villages to talk to people in their language about deadly virus 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.
Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihadi
X
Mahi Ramakrishnan
September 30, 2014 2:16 PM
Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid