Ahmed Abu Khattala, one of the leaders of Ansar Al-Sharia, the group blamed for the attack on the U.S. Mission in Benghazi, has been captured and will be brought to the United States to face trial.
The Washington Post reports that Khattala was taken in a raid that involved both American troops and the FBI. Officials are not saying where he is currently being held but the Post notes that other suspected terrorists have been held on Navy ships before being formally handed off to the FBI.
Khattala has been suspected of involvement in the attack since almost immediately after it happened. In interviews, he admitted to being at the scene on the night of the attack but denied being a leader or of having organized it.
Charges were brought against Khattala and an unknown number of other attackers last August.
A plan to capture Khattala in October was abandoned after a similar
raid in Tripoli created a backlash against the Libyan government. In a Times of London interview published that month, Khattala said, “God knows what would happen in Libya if I was taken.”
Asked about the involvement of Libya in the current raid, an unnamed official told the Post, “I am not going to get into the specifics of our diplomatic discussions, but to be clear: This was a unilateral U.S. operation.”
The U.S. failure to arrest Khattala despite his high profile in the media frustrated some lawmakers. A month after the attack the NY Times interviewed him at a nearby “luxury hotel” wearing a red fez and sipping strawberry frappe. Interviews with Reuters, CNN and the Times followed.
The Benghazi attack is currently the subject of a select committee investigation. After initially balking at whether or not they would participate, Democrats eventually selected five individuals to be part of the committee. The select committee follows a legally mandated ARB report and a Senate Intelligence Committee report.