[Photo: Ahmed Abu Khattala]
A militant suspected of being involved in the deadly 2012 attack on the US consulate in Benghazi has been captured in a secret raid in Libya. Four Americans, including the ambassador, were killed in the attack.
US officials announced on Tuesday that Ahmed Abu Khattala, a senior leader of the Benghazi branch of the terror group Ansar al-Sharia in Libya, had been captured.
“I can confirm that on Sunday, June 15 the US military – in cooperation with law enforcement personnel – captured Ahmed Abu Khatallah, a key figure in the attacks on US facilities in Benghazi, Libya, in September 2012,” spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby said.
“He is in US custody in a secure location outside Libya,” Kirby added.
An unnamed US official told the Reuters news agency that Khattala is being held on a US ship following his capture over the weekend by US special operations forces. Speaking on the condition of anonymity, the official said he was apprehended on the outskirts of Benghazi in a secret operation and will now be brought to the US.
“There were no civilian casualties related to this operation, and all US personnel involved in the operation have safely departed Libya,” a Pentagon press secretary said.
On September 11 2012, militants linked to al-Qaeda affiliates attacked the US consulate in Benghazi (pictured above), killing the US ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.
The attack on the US mission and the adjacent CIA compound became a point of contention among Democrats and Republicans in Washington.
Republicans accused the Obama administration, in particular former UN Ambassador Susan Rice, of deliberately misleading the public about what caused the attacks. Rice and other officials initially said they stemmed from a spontaneous protest over an anti-Muslim film.
The Obama administration later said the event was a premeditated attack carried out by an al Qaeda-backed militia.
jlw/jr (Reuters, AP, AFP, dpa)