U.S. special operations forces have captured a militant who was instrumental in the 2012 attack on a U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, officials said Monday.
The attack resulted in the death of the U.S. ambassador to the country and three other Americans. The Obama administration’s handling of the deadly assault became a lightning rod for Republican criticism of Hillary Clinton, who was secretary of state at the time, through her presidential campaign.
The commandos captured Mustafa al-Imam in Libya just before midnight local time on Sunday and are transporting him back to the U.S., the officials said. The suspect is in the custody of the Department of Justice and is expected to arrive within the next two days on a military plane, according to one of the officials. The officials said the mission was approved by President Donald Trump and done in coordination with Libya’s internationally recognized government.
The Sept. 11, 2012, assault killed U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens, State Department information management officer Sean Patrick Smith and contract security officers Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty.
Stevens and Smith died in the burning diplomatic outpost despite efforts to rescue them. Woods and Doherty died nearly eight hours later in a mortar attack on a nearby CIA complex.
Earlier this month, another man accused in the attack, Abu Khattala, went on trial in federal court in Washington. Khattala has pleaded not guilty to the 18 charges against him, including murder of an internationally protected person, providing material support to terrorists and destroying U.S. property while causing death.
The attack became fodder for multiple congressional investigations to determine what happened and whether the Obama administration misled the public on the details of the bloody assault. Initial accounts provided by administration officials, notably former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice, said the attack had grown out of a protest against an anti-Muslim internet film. Later, the administration said it was a planned terrorist attack.
BREAKING: US officials say special operations forces have captured the militant who was instrumental in Benghazi attack, US envoy's death.
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