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US captures Benghazi attack suspect: Pentagon

world Updated: Jun 17, 2014 22:35 IST
Yashwant Raj
US military

The United States on Tuesday announced it had captured the suspected ringleader of the Benghazi terror strike that killed four Americans, including the ambassador, in 2012.

US special forces grabbed the suspect, Ahmed Abu Khatallah, in a secret operation with FBI agents on Sunday in Libya. No other details were available of the operation.

"He is in US custody in a secure location outside of Libya," said Pentagon spokesperson Rear Admiral John Kerby in a statement confirming the capture.

There were no civilian casualties, he added, and all American operatives were safely out of Libya. But he didn’t say anything about casualties on the other side.

The US ambassador to Libya J Christopher Stevens, two CIA operatives and a foreign service official were killed in an attack on their mission in Benghazi on September 11, 2012.

The terrorist strike quickly turned political with Republicans accusing the Obama administration of not doing enough to prevent it and then failing to send help in time.

Republicans are now using the attack — a House committee probe is underway — to damage presidential prospects of Hillary Clinton, who was secretary of state then.

The US department of state designated Abu Khatallah a terrorist calling him “a senior leader of Ansar al-Shari’a in Benghazi”. That designation covered two other men.

Believed to be in his 40s, Abu Khatallah has in pervious interviews to US media, denied involvement in the attack, claiming he came to the area towards the end stages.

In a criminal complaint filed in a DC court, Abu Khatallah is accused of "killing a person in the course of an attack on a federal facility involving the use of a firearm and dangerous weapon and attempting and conspiring to do the same".