NEW YORK -- The U.S. filed the first criminal charges stemming from an investigation into the September 2012 attacks on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi. Ahmed Khattalah, a Libyan militia leader long-believed to be a key player in orchestrating the attack that killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three others, will face unspecified criminal charges. The Wall Street Journal indicates that other suspects were also charged, but only Khattalah's name has made it out into the public so far.
The order detailing the charges is under seal, CNN reports, meaning that we don't know much about what, specifically, he'll face, or even if the U.S. is going to try to detain him. Khattalah gave an interview to the New York Times about a month after the deadly attack, during which he claimed that no one had even interviewed him about it as he refused to go into hiding. The paper also immortalized his predilection for fruity beverages:
But just days after President Obama reasserted his vow to bring those responsible to justice, Mr. Abu Khattala spent two leisurely hours on Thursday evening at a crowded luxury hotel, sipping a strawberry frappe on a patio and scoffing at the threats coming from the American and Libyan governments.
Khattalah, long connected to the U.S.'s investigation into the attacks, continues to give interviews to the press. More recently, the militant spoke to CNN, during which he repeated his claim that no one had spoken to him about the attacks. But now, Khattalah will be one of the first to face charges, as the U.S. apparently looks to demonstrate some real progress on their investigation as the anniversary approaches. It's not clear when the Justice Department will make those charges public, but previous statements from Attorney General Eric Holder indicates that it should happen soon.
This article was published in Global Security Newswire, which is produced independently by National Journal Group under contract with the Nuclear Threat Initiative. NTI is a nonprofit, nonpartisan group working to reduce global threats from nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons.