News

U.S. captures Libyan militant accused in Benghazi attack

U.S. captures Libyan militant accused in Benghazi attack

BENGHAZI ATTACK:This Sept. 12, 2012 file photo shows glass, debris and overturned furniture are strewn inside a room in the gutted U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, after an attack that killed four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens. Photo: Associated Press/Ibrahim Alaguri

libya2
In this Sept. 12, 2012 photo, a man looks at documents at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, after an attack that killed four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens. The graffiti reads, “no God but God,” ” God is great,” and “Muhammad is the Prophet.”

By Phil Stewart and Jeff Mason

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States said on Tuesday it had captured a suspected ringleader of the 2012 attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, a raid that killed four Americans including the U.S. ambassador and ignited a political firestorm in Washington.

President Barack Obama said in a statement that he had authorized the operation in Libya on Sunday in which U.S. military troops, working with law enforcement personnel, captured Ahmed Abu Khatallah.

“Since the deadly attacks on our facilities in Benghazi, I have made it a priority to find and bring to justice those responsible for the deaths of four brave Americans,” Obama said, adding that Khatallah would “face the full weight of the American justice system.”

A U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Khatallah was being held aboard an American ship after he was grabbed on the outskirts of Benghazi in an operation carried out by U.S. special operations forces.

Rear Admiral John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, said there were no civilian casualties in the operation and all U.S. personnel involved in the capture had safely left Libya. The Pentagon declined to discuss further details of the operation and it was not immediately clear whether there were non-civilian casualties.

A U.S. official said Khatallah would be charged and prosecuted through the U.S. court system and would not be sent to the prison for suspected al Qaeda militants in Guantanamo, Cuba.

That decision follows past practice and is in line with President Barack Obama’s policy of bringing suspected militants caught abroad through the U.S. justice system rather than trying them in the military tribunal system at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, a prison he is trying to close.

After the 2012 attack, which killed Ambassador Chris Stevens, Republicans accused the Obama administration of playing down the role of al Qaeda in the attack for political reasons.

They also said then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had failed to take adequate steps to ensure the safety of American diplomatic personnel, an issue that is still resonating as Clinton considers running for U.S. president in 2016.

The Libyan government had no immediate comment on the U.S. announcement and it was unclear whether Washington had notified Libyan officials before carrying out the operation.

It was the second time U.S. special operations forces have gone into Libya to detain a militant. A U.S. Army Delta Force team grabbed al Qaeda suspect Nazih al-Ragye, better known as Abu Anas al-Liby, in Tripoli in October 2013 and sent him to a U.S. Navy ship for interrogation.

Al-Liby was later charged in a U.S. federal court in New York in connection with the 1998 bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Kenya, which killed more than 200 people.

(Additional reporting by Susan Heavey and Julia Edwards; Writing by David Alexander; Editing by David Storey and James Dalgleish)

Recent Headlines

in National, World

Climate plan shows U.S. ‘can change the world’

23-overlay1

The plan, which also mandates a shift to renewable energy from coal-fired electricity, is meant to put the U.S. in a strong position at international talks in Paris later this year on reaching a deal to curb global warming.

in Sports

After death of 9-year-old, no more bat boys and girls

13-overlay2

The National Baseball Congress is suspending the use of bat boys and girls during its World Series in Kansas following the death of a 9-year-old boy who was hit by a bat.

in Sports

WATCH: WWE salutes the late ‘Rowdy’ Roddy Piper

12-overlay1

One of the most iconic wrestlers in the history of the WWE died last week at the age of 61.

in National

More fights ahead on Planned Parenthood after Senate vote

12-overlay

Now that the Senate has derailed Republican legislation halting federal dollars for Planned Parenthood, one thing seems clear: Many on both sides think they can ring up gains from the battle.

in Sports

Stanley Cup winner Schneider new Hall of Famer

nhl

Stanley Cup winner Mathieu Schneider is among four new inductees to the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame.