Libyan Terrorist Sentenced to 22 Years in Prison for 2012 Benghazi Attack
The leader of extremist militia Ubaydah bin Jarrah was found guilty over his involvement in the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. Special Mission in Benghazi.
Forty-seven-year-old Ahmed Abu Khatallah was sentenced to 22 years in prison.
U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens and three other Americans—Sean Smith, Tyrone Woods, and Glen Doherty—were killed in the attack.
Khatallah had been found guilty on four counts, including carrying a semiautomatic assault rifle during a crime of violence and one count of conspiracy to provide material support or resources to terrorists.
He was captured in Libya on June 15, 2014, after which he was extradited to the United States.
Khatallah and his terror group had sought for months before the attack to incite violence against Americans in Libya.
“In early September of 2012, he and other members of his group mobilized for an attack by stockpiling truckloads of weaponry,” the Department of Justice (DOJ) said in a statement.
Khatallah then directed his group to carry out the attacks.
A group of men armed with AK-47 assault rifles and grenades first attacked the U.S. Special Mission in Benghazi, and set fire to buildings, killing Stevens and Smith.
“The government’s evidence also showed that Khatallah made calls to leaders of other militia groups warning them not to interfere with the attack,” the DOJ said.
Following the attack on the Special Mission, the terrorists turned to a nearby CIA annex. Woods and Doherty died as a result of a mortar attack on the facility.
National security adviser Susan Rice blamed the attack on protests that had erupted “spontaneously” in response to a “hateful video.”
“We believe that it looks like extremist elements, individuals, joined in that effort with heavy weapons,” Rice said on “Face the Nation” following the attack.
A subsequent investigation by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, however, found that there had never been protests.
“The attack had nothing to do with a video made in California. The attack was a brutal and coordinated assault by terrorists on the eleventh anniversary of the terrorist attacks on New York and the Pentagon,” the committee said in a statement.
Rice had also said that the attacks were not pre-meditated.
The DOJ, however, in announcing the sentencing of Khatallah, detailed the facts that the preparations had taken months and that Khatallah himself was in contact with his group during the attack using cell phone calls.
The terror attack and response by the U.S. government resulted in the creation of the Select Committee on Benghazi.
“A Fleet Antiterrorism Security Team (FAST) sat on a plane in Rota, Spain, for three hours, and changed in and out of their uniforms four times,” the committee’s report read.
The committee found that, despite orders, no military assets were sent to Benghazi. It also revealed that after it became clear that Stevens was missing, the White House convened a roughly two-hour meeting that “resulted in action items focused on a YouTube video.”
“The 7:30 PM White House meeting referenced the video, but no direct link or solid evidence existed connecting the attacks in Benghazi and the video at the time the meeting took place,” the committee said in its report.
According to the committee, State Department officials who were present at the White House meeting had access to eyewitness accounts of the attack in real time.
“There was no mention of the video from the agents on the ground,” the report said.
Mike Pompeo, who was part of the select committee at the time, said: “We expect our government to make every effort to save the lives of Americans who serve in harm’s way. That did not happen in Benghazi. Politics were put ahead of the lives of Americans, and while the administration had made excuses and blamed the challenges posed by time and distance, the truth is that they did not try.” Pompeo now serves as secretary of state under the Trump administration.