Benghazi suspect captured
WASHINGTON (AP) — United States special forces seized a “key leader” of the deadly Benghazi, Libya, attack and he is on his way to face trial in the U.S. for the fiery assault that killed the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans, the Obama administration announced today.
It was the first breakthrough in the sudden overseas violence in 2012 that has become a festering political sore at home.
President Barack Obama said the capture on Sunday of Ahmed Abu Khattala sends a clear message to the world that “when Americans are attacked, no matter how long it takes, we will find those responsible and we will bring them to justice”.
“We will find you,” Obama declared.
As recently as last August, though, Abu Khattala told The Associated Press that he was not in hiding nor had he been questioned by Libyan authorities about the attack at the diplomatic compound.
He denied involvement and said that he had abandoned the militia. Administration officials said yesterday that despite his media interviews, he “evaded capture” until the weekend when military special forces, including members of the Army’s elite Delta Force, nabbed him.
Whatever the path to his capture, he was headed for the United States to face what Obama called “the full weight of the American justice system”. Obama called the Libyan an “alleged key leader” of the attack.
U.S. officials said Abu Khattala was being held on the Navy amphibious transport dock ship USS New York, which was in the Mediterranean Sea. The officials spoke only on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorised to discuss Abu Khattala’s whereabouts.
The Libyan was the commander of a militant group called the Abu Obaida bin Jarrah Brigade and is accused of being a senior leader of the Benghazi branch of Ansar al-Shariah in Libya, which the U.S. has designated a terror group.