First charges filed in Benghazi attack
07 August 2013, 10:37
Washington - The Justice Department has filed the first
criminal charges in the deadly attack on the US diplomatic mission in Benghazi,
Libya, news reports said Tuesday.
CNN, NBC News and The Wall Street Journal reported that
unspecified counts had been filed in the September 2012 attack that killed Ambassador
Chris Stevens and three other Americans. CNN said the charges named Ahmed Abu
Khattalah, a Libyan militia leader. The Journal said charges were filed against
more than one person.
"The department's investigation is ongoing. It has
been, and remains, a top priority," said Justice Department spokesperson
Andrew C Ames, who declined to comment further.
A key Republican urged the administration to do more than
"Osama bin Laden had been criminally charged long
before the September 11 2001, terrorist attacks but was not apprehended,"
said Representative Darrell, chairperson of the House Oversight and Government
Reform Committee, in a statement. US special forces killed Bin Laden in
Pakistan on May 2 2011. "Delays in apprehending the suspected Benghazi killers,"
Issa added, "will only put American lives at further and needless
The Associated Press reported in May that American officials
had identified five men who might be responsible for the September 11 2012,
attack in Benghazi that occurred just weeks before President Barack Obama's
The FBI released photos of three of the five suspects,
asking the public to provide more information on the men pictured. The images
were captured by security cameras at the US diplomatic post during the attack,
but it took weeks for the FBI to see and study them.
The FBI and other US intelligence agencies identified the
men through contacts in Libya and by monitoring their communications. They are
thought to be members of Ansar al-Shariah, the Libyan militia group whose
fighters were seen near the US diplomatic facility prior to the violence.
Waiting to prosecute the suspects instead of grabbing them
now could add to the political burden the Benghazi case already has placed on
Obama and Democrats who want to succeed him in 2016.
Since Obama's re-election, Republicans in Congress have
condemned the administration's handling of the matter, criticising the level of
embassy security and questioning the talking points provided to the UN
Ambassador Susan Rice for her public explanation of the attack. Conservatives
have suggested that the White House tried to play down the incident to minimise
its effect on the president's campaign.
Republicans also have taken political aim at Hillary Clinton, who was secretary of state at the time of the attack and is a possible
Democratic presidential contender in 2016.