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DOJ files first criminal charges in attack on US diplomatic mission in Libya

The US Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] on Tuesday filed criminal charges in the deadly attack on the US diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya. The sealed complaint was filed in the US District Court for the Western District of Washington [official website] against an unspecified number of individuals. The charges are the first filed in connection with the September 2012 attack [Libya Herald report] on the US embassy and the death of US Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans. An anonymous official said that those charged included Ahmed Abu Khattala, the head of the Libyan militia group, Ansar Al-Sharia, which has also been linked to the raid. The group agreed to disband [Libya Herald report] and four of its members were arrested after the attacks under suspicion of being involved in the raid.

Republicans in Congress have condemned the Obama administration's handling of the matter, criticizing the level of embassy security and questioning the talking points provided to UN Ambassador Susan Rice for her public explanation of the attack. Conservatives have suggested that the White House tried to play down the incident to minimize its effect on the president's campaign. DOJ spokesman Andrew Ames commented that "the department's investigation is ongoing. It has been, and remains, a top priority."

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