Inside the Life, Capture of Alleged Benghazi Ringleader

Ahmed Abu Khattalah was captured without a shot being fired

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted Jun 18, 2014 4:12 AM CDT | Updated Jun 18, 2014 7:40 AM CDT

(Newser) – What now for Ahmed Abu Khattalah, the alleged mastermind of the 2012 attack on the US consulate in Benghazi who has been captured in a US raid? The administration says he will be tried in a federal criminal court, despite calls from Republican lawmakers for the Libyan to be held at Guantanamo Bay as an enemy combatant. Analysts believe that as in similar cases, Khattalah will be interrogated on an American ship before he is brought to the US for trial. "The only question in my mind is how slowly they’ll be moving that ship," a New York University law professor tells Politico. More:

  • The Washington Post looks at Khattala's life, much of which was spent in Moammar Gadhafi's prisons for involvement in Islamist movements. He is in his early 40s, says he has never left Libya, and those who have met him describe him as eccentric but friendly. He emerged as leader of a small Islamist militia during the 2011 uprising that toppled Gadhafi and later became an ally of the fiercely conservative Ansar al-Sharia militia.

  • With Khattala living openly and even giving interviews to US news organizations until last year, the Obama administration is facing questions over why it took so long to capture him, CNN finds. Officials say building a criminal case against a foreign terror suspect takes time. "What matters is not that it took a matter of time to get him, but that we got him," a Pentagon spokesman says. "And I can't speak for his living habits. But let's just say for argument's sake he was living in plain sight. He's not anymore."
  • The Pentagon and State Department both described the raid as a "unilateral US action," and officials say the Libyan government was not told about it until Khattala was already in American custody. "It was very clean, in and out, with no one hurt," one official tells the New York Times. Another official describes the operation as "textbook," with no shots fired as Khattalah was stuffed into a vehicle and taken away. Delta Force soldiers provided the muscle, officials say, but it was treated as a law enforcement operation and FBI agents were on hand to make sure evidence was preserved and interrogation procedures were followed.

Glass, debris and overturned furniture are strewn inside a room in the gutted US consulate in Benghazi, Libya after an attack that killed four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens.   (AP Photo/Ibrahim Alaguri, File)
An empty bullet is seen on the ground at the US consulate after the attack that killed four Americans.   (AP Photo/Mohammad Hannon)
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