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Benghazi suspect cleared of murder, convicted on terrorism charge

[JURIST] A jury in Washington, DC, acquitted [press release] Ahmed Abu Khatallah, the ringleader of the 2012 Benghazi attacks, of murder on Tuesday, but convicted him on terrorism charges.

After five days of deliberations, the jury found him guilty of one count of conspiracy to provide material support or resources to terrorists, one count of providing material support or resources to terrorists, one count of maliciously destroying and injuring dwellings and property, and placing lives in jeopardy within the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States, and one count of using and carrying a semiautomatic weapon during a crime of violence. He was acquitted of the remaining counts against him.

On the night of the 2012 attack, Khatallah ordered his men to carry out the attack by first striking the US Special Mission in Benghazi. The men, armed with AK 47s, grenades, and other weapons, invaded the building, and US Ambassador Christopher Stevens and government employee Sean Smith died of smoke inhalation. A second attack at a CIA annex resulted in the deaths of Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty. According to government evidence, Khatallah maintained contact with his group before, during and after the attack, even going so far as preventing first responders from getting to the scene.

Khatallah faces statutory maximums of 15 years in prison on each of the two terrorism offenses, 20 years for maliciously damaging and destroying dwellings and property and life imprisonment for the firearms offense. The firearms offense also carries a mandatory minimum consecutive term of 10 years. A sentencing date has not yet been set.

A previous version incorrectly gave the ambassador's name as Christian Stevens.
November 30, 2017 10:21 AM

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