Published August 06, 2013
The Justice Department has filed criminal charges against several suspects in the Benghazi terror attack, a U.S. official tells Fox News.
The U.S. official confirmed that sealed charges were filed against suspects in connection with the Sept. 11, 2012, attack. It's unclear whether they are the same individuals whose images the FBI released to the public in May.
One of the individuals charged is Libyan militia leader Ahmed Khattalah.
In an interview conducted last October, Khattalah told Fox News that he was at the scene of the attack that night. He also expressed no remorse for the death of Ambassador Chris Stevens, who was killed in the attack on the U.S. compound along with three other Americans.
But in the extended interview, Khattalah denied to Fox News that he was a "ringleader" of the attack, as he has been identified by others. He also said he was not a member of the militant group Ansar al-Shariah, said to be involved.
Khattalah also denied to Fox News at the time that he was "on the run." He said no U.S. officials had made an effort to contact him or detain him.
It has been alleged that Khattalah helped direct the attack. He told Fox News that he was just "directing traffic" outside of the compound that had become congested with vehicles. While denying being a member of the militant group, he expressed admiration for its goals and said he was in contact with various members of that and other militias active in Benghazi.
The administration was staying mum on reports of the Benghazi charges. Asked about the reports, a Justice Department official said only that their investigation is "ongoing."
"It has been, and remains, a top priority. We have no further comment at this time," the official said.
The development comes just days after Republican members of Congress put new pressure on the incoming FBI director, James Comey, to renew focus on the investigation.
"It has been more than 10 months since the attacks. We appear to be no closer to knowing who was responsible today than we were in the early weeks following the attack. This is simply unacceptable," they wrote in a letter to Comey last week.
House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., who last week issued two new subpoenas to the State Department for documents on Benghazi, says it is imperative the suspects be placed in U.S. custody and questioned as soon as possible, if the DOJ has indeed identified them.
“Usama Bin Laden had been criminally charged long before the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks but was not apprehended," Issa said in a statement. "Delays in apprehending the suspected Benghazi killers will only put American lives at further and needless risk.”
The Sept. 11 attack -- led by militants who used heavy weapons including rocket-propelled grenades and mortars -- took place in two phases. The first was an assault on the U.S. consulate. The second wave targeted the nearby CIA annex, where U.S. personnel had gone to take cover.
Fox News' Bret Baier and Greg Palkot contributed to this report.