Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Libya/US: Benghazi Master-Mind Ahmed Abu Khatallah, 43, to be Tried in the US Court as a Criminal

According to Reuters, Washington announced on Tuesday (June 17) that it had captured a suspected ringleader of the 2012 attack on the US diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, that killed four Americans including US Ambassador Chris Stevens, resulting in a political crisis. 

President Barack Obama said in a statement he had authorized the operation in Libya on Sunday (June 15) in which US special operations forces captured Ahmed Abu Khatallah, 43, and was being transported to the US via naval warship. 

COMMENT: Of course, what is so fascinating is that Ahmed Abu Khatallah was accessible to foreign reporters shortly after the Benghazi attack on September 11, 2012, so why has it taken so long (2 years?) to capture Abu Khatallah?

Perhaps because the Obama Administration had greater priorities? What could they have been, precisely? 

Republicans also said then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had failed to take steps to ensure the safety of American diplomatic personnel, an issue that is still resonating as Clinton ponders running for US president in 2016.

Clearly, any explanation that Mrs. Clinton might have can only be described as a subterfuge. 

Abu Khatallah was abducted on the outskirts of Benghazi by US special operations forces.

General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said US troops had acted with "extraordinary skill, courage and precision" and that the complex operation resulted in no casualties. Rear Admiral John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, said all US personnel involved had left Libya.

A US official said Khatallah would be charged and prosecuted through the US criminal justice system and would not be sent to Guantanamo Bay, as have all terrorist combatants in the past. No doubt, a political decision made by The White House. 

The Libyan government had no immediate comment on the US announcement and had not been consulted regarding the abduction.

It was the second time the administration has said 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 US Navy ship for interrogation.

Al-Liby was later charged in a US federal court in New York City in connection with the 1998 bombing of the US Embassy in Kenya and Tanzania. 

Al-Libi was captured in Tripoli on October 5, 2013, by US Army Delta Force with the assistance of the FBI and CIA.

US Navy SEALS conducted a simultaneous raid in Somalia targeting the alleged mastermind of the September 2013 Westgate shopping mall attack conducted by al-Shabaab. 

A day after al-Libi was captured, he was in military custody on on a US Navy warship.

On October 15, 2013, al-Libi appeared in a federal court in Manhattan and pleaded not guilty to terrorism charges. He is being held without bail under concerns that he is a flight risk.   

Lawmakers welcomed Khatallah's capture, although Republicans said they were concerned that prosecuting him in the court system rather than through the military tribunals at Guantanamo Bay would hamper efforts to interrogate him for crucial intelligence data.