News / Middle East

US Mission to Nab Benghazi Suspect Draws Fire

US Mission to Nab Benghazi Suspect Draws Firei
Aru Pande
June 19, 2014 11:37 PM
Libyan officials have condemned this week's U.S. operation that nabbed the alleged ringleader of the 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi. As VOA's Aru Pande reports, after the 2011 U.S. raid that killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan, the operation in Libya again raises questions of how far the United States can go to target terror suspects abroad.
Aru Pande
Libyan officials have condemned this week's U.S. operation that nabbed the alleged ringleader of the 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi.  As VOA's Aru Pande reports, after the 2011 U.S. raid that killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan, the operation in Libya again raises questions of how far the United States can go to target terror suspects abroad.

The United States did not notify the Libyan government before carrying out the June 14 operation that captured Ahmed Abu Khatallah - allegedly behind the September 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi that killed U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.
And it did not take long for Libyan officials to express anger at the American mission.

"The government condemns this unfortunate attack on Libyan sovereignty, without prior knowledge of the Libyan government, in a time the city of Benghazi suffers from security disruptions," said Foreign Ministry spokesman Said al Saoud in Tripoli.
The current security situation, Libyan officials say, made it difficult for Libyan law enforcement to act on their own warrant for Khatallah. They are demanding the Islamist militant's return to Libyan soil for trial.
U.S. State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki rejected that demand Wednesday and said the unilateral operation had been planned for some time.
“It should come as no surprise, given the tragedy that occurred on September 11, 2012, that we would take the opportunity to apprehend this individual and bring him to justice.  And we have long stated that as a priority of the United States,” said Psaki.
Like the May 2011 special forces raid on Osama bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, American officials say Khatallah's capture was undertaken in accordance with the United States' “inherent right to self-defense.”
Daniel Serwer, a conflict management professor at Johns Hopkins University, says it’s a grey area.
“We not only nab people, we kill people in other countries.  And that may be justified on the basis of self-defense, but I don't think there is much in international law that allows it - what allows it is a lack of full sovereignty,” says Serwer.
And in this case, he says – it was Libya's limited sovereignty, with the country's inability to fully control its own territory or establish law and order.
“The right thing to do is to have the Libyans arrest him and extradite him.  But that's extraordinarily difficult for the Libyans.  It's difficult because they don't have the security forces to do it, but it's also difficult politically in the current situation,” says Serwer.
Serwer says the preferred method is for the United States to work with viable states it enjoys friendly ties with.  But as in Pakistan, Yemen, and now Libya - that's not always the case.

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Comment Sorting
by: Lawrence Bush from: Houston
June 20, 2014 12:26 AM
No Lybian sovereignty is violated while our intelligence arrested the suspected mastermind that had targetted our Benghazi consulate killing ambassoder Chris Stevens and three officials. While operating in other terror sensitive countries abroad, our govt. does certaily have links with such governments. Unquestionably, the grenade attack upon our consulate had posed a very serious threat, challenge upon our country, govt., our Amercan people, our, the very official functioning of not only our friendly diplomaticc missions abroad but for all democracies world over. Under the same sort of circumstances while our north African embassies were attacked by the al Queda during the Clinton administration, there had been cruise missile attacks upon the terror bases in Afghanistan. In the Lybian case, we have not gone for any kind of our defense attacks for that world to raise fingers upon us.The nabbed suspect should get our American justice after being convicted. We are gratus to the Lybian govt. and, kudos go to our FBI.

by: Mark from: Virginia
June 19, 2014 10:51 PM
and when another country tries the same thing here in America, would they also be justified in saying it was their “inherent right to self-defense.”?
I think not, at least not in the eyes of the American people. I'm sure the Libyans, the Syrians, the Iraqis, the Afghanis and the Pakistanis would want to bring to justice those responsible for the numerous drone strikes that have killed suspect terrorists along with some collateral civilian deaths. When they launch raids on American soil to nab those American leaders responsible, they will make the same statements our leaders are saying now to justify those raids, and without first informing our government of their intentions, as we had done...twice.
What is good for the goose, is good for the gander.


by: Not Again from: Canada
June 19, 2014 8:48 PM
There would be no need for the West, including the US, if these states (mentioned) that are upset, did in fact have full sovereignty over all their territories and contolled, by jailing, the terrorists in those lawless regions.
At no time, that has been reported in the media, did the Libyan gvmt take responsibility for its absolute failure to protect an accredited diplomatic mission and its staff; nor did the libyan gvmt make any effort to apprehend and hold the murderous terrorist and their supporters accountable; their excuses are many, but it is clear that they have very little control over Eastern Libya. A gvmt that has little or no control over a region, can't really claim it has any kind of sovereignty over it or the people in it. If they did have sovereignty and control, and allowed the dastardly killings to take place, then they are complicit to the crime......; in this type of caotic situation, the gvmt of the victims, as possible, needs to take positive action to deal with the culprit(s), and as possible do it with no/minimum colateral damage, which was done.
In any case, the capture of the terrorist lessens the load on the already highly overloaded/barely capable of functioning Libyan gvmt, and they should be thankfull for the US cleaning their mess.
Maybe some day, the truncated Libyan gvmt, will regain control over the region. Instead of complaining it should be providing assurances, and dilligently work on the capture of the rest of the culprits, responsible/ involved in the dastardly murder of the innocent victims.

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