U.S. special forces captured Ahmed Abu Khattala, a main suspect in the September 11, 2012, Benghazi attacks over the weekend. Khattala was reportedly captured by the U.S. military, working in conjunction with the FBI, in Libya somewhere near Benghazi. There were no casualties in the raid, according to the Defense Department, and Khattala is now being held on a ship off of Libya.
Khattala has been openly residing near Benghazi since the attacks, and has granted interviews to the U.S. media — including, most notoriously, to the New York Times’ David Kirkpatrick. In his interview with the Times, he said he was present at but not involved in the attacks on the U.S. diplomatic facility, and said he admired the global al-Qaeda network but didn’t have connections to it. Khattala told the Times he’s a part-time construction worker, but he is also apparently a leader of Ansar al-Sharia in Benghazi, a local militia. He was imprisoned for years by the Qaddafi regime for his Islamist activities and views.
A U.S. official told the Washington Post the operation was ”a reminder that when the United States says it’s going to hold someone accountable and he will face justice, this is what we mean.”
Khattala was charged with involvement in the attacks by a sealed indictment the Obama administration filed last year that also named about a dozen other suspects.