A suspected terrorist linked to the 2012 Benghazi terror attack that killed four Americans has been captured inside Libya by U.S. forces and currently is en route to the United States, Fox News has learned exclusively.
Ahmed Abu Khattala was captured just south of Benghazi and according to sources “he didn’t know what hit him”. There was no firefight and no issues with his capture. A small Special Forces team with one FBI agent took part in the mission and Khattala is currently being held on a U.S. Navy ship sailing back to the United States.
Presdent Obama approved the mission on Friday--Khattala was captured Sunday.
Khattala has a sealed criminal complaint and will be tried in US courts. A concern is that the judge may want to see him presented ASAP and they are taking their time bringing him back on the U.S. Naval ship. He has been charged on 3 counts, all of which are death-penalty eligible.
An official also tells Fox that Khattala underwent an “intelligence interrogation” shortly after his capture, but will not say whether or not he has been read his Miranda rights.
Khattala was named early on as one of the possible ringleaders in the September 11th attack. As the New York Times reported, just days after President Obama reasserted his vow to bring those responsible for the attack to justice, Khattala was spotted at a luxury hotel enjoying a strawberry frappe on a patio and dismissing threats from American and Libyan governments.
Khatalla is the alleged “on the ground” manager for the assault and we believe reported up the chain to al Qaeda. He was a member of Ansar al-Sharia and some may make the argument that he was simply a local militia leader and not with formal connections to al Qaeda.
Below is a statement from Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Admiral John Kirby:
I can confirm that on Sunday, June 15 the U.S. Military -- in cooperation with law enforcement personnel -- captured Ahmed Abu Khatallah, a key figure in the attacks on U.S. facilities in Benghazi, Libya, in September 2012. He is in U.S. custody in a secure location outside of Libya. There were no civilian casualties related to this operation, and all U.S. personnel involved in the operation have safely departed Libya.
We will update this post as we learn more and please join us tonight at 6pmET for Special Report.
Photo of Ahmed Abu Khattala via the Libya Herald: