US military captures alleged Benghazi attack ringleader in secret raid

US military captures alleged Benghazi attack ringleader in secret raid

[JURIST] US military forces conducted [DOD press release] a secret operation in Libya Sunday, capturing Ahmed Abu Khatallah [BBC profile], the alleged mastermind behind the September 2012 attacks [WP backgrounder] on US facilities in Benghazi, Libya, that killed four Americans including US Ambassador Chris Stevens [WP obituary]. Pentagon press secretary Rear Adm John Kirby released a statement Tuesday saying “There were no civilian casualties related to this operation, and all US personnel involved in the operation have safely departed Libya.” According to the US State Department [official website], Abu Khatallah is a senior leader in Islamist group Ansar al-Sharia [BBC backgrounder]. According to the BBC, he has been charged in a federal court in Washington, DC, with killing a person in the course of an attack on a federal facility, providing material support to terrorists and weapons charges.

Libya remains politically unstable three years after the 2011 uprising [JURIST backgrounder] and subsequent civil war that deposed former dictator Muammar Gaddafi. Earlier this month Libya’s Supreme Constitutional Court refused [JURIST report] to accept the appointment of Ahmed Maetig as the country’s new prime minister, declaring the nomination unconstitutional. In a May briefing to the UN Security Council, International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda [official profile] said that Libya faces a deep political crisis and serious security challenges [JURIST report], inhibiting its ability to rebuild itself as a modern democratic state. Last August the US Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] filed criminal charges [JURIST report] 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.