New Charges Filed Against Benghazi Suspect

New charges against Abu Khattala, believed to be behind the Benghazi attack in 2012, include crimes punishable by death.

Ben Ariel,

The U.S. Consulate in Benghazi is seen in fla
The U.S. Consulate in Benghazi is seen in fla
Reuters

A Libyan already behind bars was indicted Tuesday on new charges arising from the 2012 attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, including crimes punishable by the death penalty, the Justice Department said, according to The Associated Press (AP).

The new 18-count grand jury indictment, which includes multiple counts of murder, had been widely expected since Ahmed Abu Khattala was captured in June by U.S. special forces and brought to the United States to face trial.

Abu Khattala, 43, the first to be prosecuted for the Benghazi violence, had initially been charged with conspiracy to provide support to terrorists, resulting in death. U.S. officials had described that initial, one-count indictment as a placeholder to allow for him to be brought into court and for a grand jury to hear more evidence.

The new indictment does not add to the public account of how the account unfolded but it does include multiple counts that make Abu Khattala eligible for the death penalty if convicted, including murder of an internationally protected person and killing a person during an armed attack on a federal facility, according to AP.

It also accuses Abu Khattala, among other charges, of providing material support to terrorists, malicious destruction of property and attempted murder of an officer and employee of the U.S.

After his capture during a nighttime raid, Abu Khattala was brought to the U.S. aboard a Navy boat where he was interrogated by federal agents. He remains in custody at a detention facility in Alexandria, Virginia.

Khattala, a leader of the terrorist organization Ansar al-Sharia, has previously denied any connection to the Benghazi attack and has pleaded not guilty to conspiracy charges. 

Federal prosecutors have long accused Abu Khattala of being a ringleader of the September 11, 2012, attacks that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans. Attorney General Eric Holder said the new indictment reflects Abu Khattala's "integral role" in the attacks.




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