DoJ files first charges against Benghazi attackers

Last week, Republican Senators sent a letter to new FBI chief James Comey asking him for a report on the investigation into who is responsible for the attack on our diplomats in Benghazi.

Whether that spurred the Department of Justice to action is unknown, but the report that charges have been filed in federal court against the leader of the terrorist group that participated in the attack is long overdue.

The Hill:

The Justice Department has filed the first criminal charges stemming from last year's attack on the U.S. compound in Benghazi, Libya, against Ahmed Khattalah, the leader of a Libyan militia, CNN reports.

Federal agents and prosecutors filed charges under seal against Khattalah for his role in the attack on Sept. 11, 2012, that left four Americans dead, including U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens.

 

The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday that sealed charges had been filed against multiple suspects.

Both reports said it was still unknown what specific charges were filed against the suspects in the Benghazi attack.

"If our government knows who perpetrated the attack that killed four Americans, it is critical that they be questioned and placed in custody of U.S. officials without delay," House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) said in a statement. "Osama Bin Laden had been criminally charged long before the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks but was not apprehended.  Delays in apprehending the suspected Benghazi killers will only put American lives at further and needless risk."

The charges are the first to stem from last year's terrorist attack, which has become a political flashpoint for critics of the Obama administration.

They have accused the Obama administration of failing to properly respond to the attack, pointing to the lack of charges against the perpetrators.

[...]

Khattalah, who is the head of the Libyan militia group Ansar al-Sharia, has remained in the public eye and granted interviews to reporters even as he has been under investigation by U.S. and Libyan authorities.

He long said that he was present at the U.S. facility the night of the attack, though he's denied a role in it. In an October 2012, profile, Khattalah told The New York Times that he had arrived as the gunfire was beginning and sought to break up a traffic jam around the demonstration.

Bold as brass, that one. The administration has been soft pedaling the investigation largely due to the unstable nature of the Libyan government. Giving the Islamists any excuse to cry "American puppet" would be very damaging. We faced a similar situation in Lebanon for years where any overt assistance to the anti-Syrian government would have led to instability.

It is unsatisfactory, to be sure. But pressure to do something was coming from the Hill following Khattalah's interview on CNN last week and the administration felt it had little choice.

Will the Libyan government extradite? That remains to be seen.

Last week, Republican Senators sent a letter to new FBI chief James Comey asking him for a report on the investigation into who is responsible for the attack on our diplomats in Benghazi.

Whether that spurred the Department of Justice to action is unknown, but the report that charges have been filed in federal court against the leader of the terrorist group that participated in the attack is long overdue.

The Hill:

The Justice Department has filed the first criminal charges stemming from last year's attack on the U.S. compound in Benghazi, Libya, against Ahmed Khattalah, the leader of a Libyan militia, CNN reports.

Federal agents and prosecutors filed charges under seal against Khattalah for his role in the attack on Sept. 11, 2012, that left four Americans dead, including U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens.

 

The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday that sealed charges had been filed against multiple suspects.

Both reports said it was still unknown what specific charges were filed against the suspects in the Benghazi attack.

"If our government knows who perpetrated the attack that killed four Americans, it is critical that they be questioned and placed in custody of U.S. officials without delay," House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) said in a statement. "Osama Bin Laden had been criminally charged long before the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks but was not apprehended.  Delays in apprehending the suspected Benghazi killers will only put American lives at further and needless risk."

The charges are the first to stem from last year's terrorist attack, which has become a political flashpoint for critics of the Obama administration.

They have accused the Obama administration of failing to properly respond to the attack, pointing to the lack of charges against the perpetrators.

[...]

Khattalah, who is the head of the Libyan militia group Ansar al-Sharia, has remained in the public eye and granted interviews to reporters even as he has been under investigation by U.S. and Libyan authorities.

He long said that he was present at the U.S. facility the night of the attack, though he's denied a role in it. In an October 2012, profile, Khattalah told The New York Times that he had arrived as the gunfire was beginning and sought to break up a traffic jam around the demonstration.

Bold as brass, that one. The administration has been soft pedaling the investigation largely due to the unstable nature of the Libyan government. Giving the Islamists any excuse to cry "American puppet" would be very damaging. We faced a similar situation in Lebanon for years where any overt assistance to the anti-Syrian government would have led to instability.

It is unsatisfactory, to be sure. But pressure to do something was coming from the Hill following Khattalah's interview on CNN last week and the administration felt it had little choice.

Will the Libyan government extradite? That remains to be seen.

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