U.S. Special Operations forces captured one of the suspected ringleaders of the terrorist attacks in Benghazi in a secret raid in Libya over the weekend, the first time one of the accused perpetrators of the 2012 assault has been apprehended, according to U.S. officials.
The officials said Ahmed Abu Khattala was captured near Benghazi by American troops, working alongside the FBI, following months of planning, and was now in U.S. custody “in a secure location outside Libya.” The officials said there were no casualties in the operation, and that all U.S. personnel involved have safely left Libya.
Khattala’s apprehension is a major victory for the Obama administration, which has been criticized for having failed so far to bring those responsible for the Benghazi attacks to justice.
One jubilant official called Khattala’s capture “a reminder that when the United States says it’s going to hold someone accountable and he will face justice, this is what we mean.”
The Washington Post learned about the capture Monday but agreed to a request from the White House to delay publication of a story because of security concerns.
Khattala is reportedly being brought to the United States. He is said to be the head of Ansar al-Sharia, the al Qaeda-linked terrorist group that carried out the attack, which President Obama and his closest advisers initially blamed on a YouTube movie.
Khattala is the man who taunted the US in the weeks after the Benghazi attack, granting media interviews in a Benghazi cafe.