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

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor warns of obesity’s worldwide health impact 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.
Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam Wari
X
Katherine Gypson
May 25, 2015 1:32 AM
For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.

VOA Blogs