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 Sports

Blackhawks beat Ducks 5-4 in Game 4 of Western final

FILE - In this March 6, 2014 file photo, Chicago Blackhawks center Jonathan Toews (19) celebrates his goal with Patrick Kane during the third period of an NHL hockey game against the Columbus Blue Jackets in Chicago. The Blackhawks have agreed to eight-year contract extensions with captain JonathanToews and star forward Patrick Kane. General manager Stan Bowman said all along that the extensions were his biggest offseason priority, and the team announced the megadeals Wednesday, July 9, 2014.

Antoine Vermette scored at 5:37 of the second overtime

in Sports

Hawks’ G Korver out for the playoffs with sprained ankle

Cleveland Cavaliers' Matthew Dellavedova (8), from Australia, is chased by Atlanta Hawks' Kyle Korver in the second quarter of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014, in Cleveland.

The Hawks announced Saturday that Korver has a severe high right ankle sprain. A foot and ankle specialist will determine the best course of treatment, but he definitely won't play again in the postseason.

in Entertainment

This weekend in entertainment history

tomcruise

A look back on some of the most memorable moments in Hollywood history.

in Entertainment

REVIEW: Evil clown returns for “Poltergeist” reboot

18-overlay4

Just when you felt it was safe to look under the bed, we're given another "Poltergeist" movie.

Bellingham Traffic