By Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, June 17, 2014 – Following today’s announcement of Ahmed Abu Khatallah’s capture for his role in September 2012 attacks on U.S. facilities in Benghazi, Libya, the Defense Department announced he will be tried in a U.S. court.
Pentagon Press Secretary Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby discussed Khatallah’s June 15 apprehension and his status during a Pentagon news conference.
“Khatallah has been charged for his role in the attacks on U.S. facilities in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11, 2012,” he said. “No U.S. personnel or civilians were injured in this operation, which was carried out in close coordination with law enforcement personnel.”
Khatallah was taken to a secure location outside Libya, Kirby said, and will be brought to the United States to stand trial. He is the first suspect to be apprehended in connection with the Benghazi attack which killed four Americans including the U.S. ambassador to Libya.
Kirby expressed Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s pride in “everyone who meticulously planned and executed this operation.”
“They took great personal risk to fulfill our pledge that the United States will do whatever it takes to ensure justice comes to those who harm American citizens,” he said.
The admiral declined to discuss further details of the mission to capture Khatallah, but did note the Libyan government was consulted on the operation.
“We’ve long made it clear that we were going to hold accountable the perpetrators of Benghazi,” Kirby said. “This should come as no surprise to anyone, least of all the Libyan government. And I can tell you that they were notified about this capture operation.”
The press secretary also emphasized the U.S. commitment to counterterrorism and the intent to “pursue those who do Americans harm, including those who were involved in the attacks in Benghazi.”
Khatallah’s capture, Kirby said, is an important reminder to the American people and to the nation’s partners and adversaries alike that the U.S. military works every day to be ready to carry out the orders of the commander in chief and to defend the United States.
“Counterterrorism is an ongoing mission of the United States military all over the world,” he said. “So it shouldn't surprise anybody that we're going to continue to pursue these guys.”