Washington, DC, United States (4E) – U.S. Special Forces have captured one of the suspected leaders of the terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya in 2012 that killed Ambassador Christopher Steven and three other Americans, the Pentagon announced on Tuesday.
Ahmed Abu Khattala was captured in a raid at an undisclosed location involving FBI agents on Sunday and is now outside Libya, likely aboard a U.S. warship as he will be flown to Washington, D.C. for prosecution. Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby said.
There was no American nor civilian casualty in the seizure of Khattala, Kirby added.
Khattala, a senior leader of the Benghazi militia Ansar al-Sharia, was designated a terrorist by the U.S. State Department in January. His group, which was formed during the 2010 uprising against Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi, was also designated a terrorist group for attacking the consulate and killing Stevens, State Department security official Sean Smith, and CIA contractors Tyrone S. Woods and Glen Doherty on Sept. 11, 2012.
Khattala is the first person to be charged by federal prosecutors in connection with the deadly attack, though he denied the accusations in interviews with U.S. reporters.
President Barack Obama said in a statement issued Tuesday that the capture of Khattala fulfills his promise to bring the killers of Stevens, Smith, Woods and Doherty to justice.
“With this operation, the United States has once again demonstrated that we will do whatever it takes to see that justice is done when people harm Americans. We will continue our efforts to bring to justice those who were responsible for the Benghazi attacks,” CBS News quoted Obama as saying.
Another suspect in the consulate attack being hunted by the FBI is Sufian bin Qumu, the leader of the Derna branch of Ansar al-Sharia in Libya. The U.S. designated Qumu a terrorist in January. He was a former detainee at the Guantanamo Bay prison but released to Libya in 2007.