Tripoli, 7 August 2013:
The US authorities have filed criminal charges in the case of the attack on the US diplomatic compound . . .[restrict]in Benghazi on 11 September 2012 in which US Ambassador Chris Stevens died, along with three other American diplomatic staff.
According to American newspapers including The New York Times and the The Wall Street Journal as well as to CNN, murder charges have been laid against Ahmed Abu Khatala, named as the leader of Ansar Al-Sharia in Benghazi. Last October, Khatala was reportedly singled out by Libyan officials to the Americans as the man leading the assault.
Around a dozen other suspects have also been charged in connection with the attack. Their names have not been made public as the charges are sealed.
According to The New York Times and CNN, both of which interviewed Khatala, he has admitted to being in the compound after shooting started but denied involvement in the actual attack.
It is not known what the charges will actually entail — whether the US will try to seize Khatala or pressurise the Libyan authorities into arresting him. The Americans are reported to have said that they want the Libyans to make the move but any arrests or seizures could make the present security crisis in Benghazi look like a minor disturbance in comparison.
FBI officers have visited Benghazi to question witnesses. However, Khatala was reported by CNN as saying that he had met with neither them nor the Libyan investigators who told the Americans that he was involved. [/restrict]