Ahmed Abu Khattala, commander of the Libyan Ansar al-Sharia, who led the 2012 assault on the US consulate in Benghazi, has been captured in a secret US Special Operations forces raid in the same Libyan town. The Islamist terrorist, who was the prime mover in the attack which killed US Ambassador Chris Stevens and three of his staff, is now in US custody outside the country.
DEBKA Weekly 635 revealed exclusively on May 16 that US President Barack Obama had signed a secret Presidential Directive for the capture of Abu Khattala, dead or alive.
He was wanted on two counts, our sources reported: To eliminate the leading perpetrator of the Al Qaeda attack on the US consulate on Sept. 11, 2012 and murder of three Americans, a failure much highlighted by the administration's Republic rivals.
Obama’s second object was to thwart a new threat. US intelligence had turned up a dangerous link-up between the Yemen-based Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and Libya’s Ansar al-Sharia.
The CIA feared that the two groups were fabricating a sophisticated smart-bomb capable of evading conventional airport security screening measures for smuggling by plane or ship to the United States.
US officials reported Tuesday, June 17, that the capture of the radical Islamist Abu Khattala Sunday near Benghazi Sunday by US troops in conjunction with the FBI followed months of planning.
The Obama administration has been under heavy fire for failing to bring those responsible for the Benghazi attacks to justice. The former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and potential Democratic candidate for president, has taken much flak for allowing the Benghazi outrage to take place on her watch and accused of later aiding in a cover-up of her department’s lapses.
After many hearings and an official State Department review, the House of Representatives has set up a select committee to investigate further and clear the air.
Last year, the US Attorney in the District of Washington filed charges against Khattala and at least a dozen others in connection with the Benghazi attacks. None besides Khattala has been apprehended.
Last October, commandos from the Army’s elite Delta Force, along with members of the FBI’s Hostage Rescue Team, carried out a similar raid in Tripoli and abducted Nazih Abdul-Hamed al-Ruqai, long sought for participating in the 1998 bombings of US Embassies in East Africa. Ruqai, also known as Anas al-Libi, is currently awaiting trial in New York.