US special forces seize second Benghazi mission attack suspect

By Libya Herald reporters.

Ahmed Bukhatallah, the first Benghazi consulate suspect to be seized by the US (File Photo)

Ahmed Bukhatallah, the first Benghazi mission suspect seized by the US in 2014  (File Photo)

Tripoli and Tunis, 30 October 2017:

In an operation in Misrata, US special forces have seized a second man suspected of involvement in the September 2012 Benghazi US mission attack in which ambassador Christ Stevens and three other Americans were slain.

US president Donald Trump confirmed that the suspect, whom he named as Mustafa Al-Imam, was seized around midnight on Sunday by US commandos.

“Our memory is deep and our reach is long,” he said, “and we will not rest in our efforts to find and bring the perpetrators of the heinous attacks in Benghazi to justice”.

Officials in Washington were reported as saying that the raid had been mounted with the knowledge of the Presidency Council (PC) in Tripoli.  A “senior security official” in the  Government of National Accord (GNA) Abdel-Rahman Al-Taweeel was quoted by AP saying that Al-Imam was not a Libyan but that he did not know his nationality.  Other sources have said that the seized suspect has used a variety of aliases.

Few details of the raid have emerged except that there were no casualties among the special forces. Al-Imam was flown to a US warship and handed over to members of the Justice Department. He is due to be taken to the United States.

Normally reliable sources on social media have said that Al-Imam was captured at a farmhouse and have speculated that the Americans were working with a local militia.

Al-Imam had appeared in a video of the Benghazi attacks, an administration official told broadcaster CNN. It is otherwise unclear what role he played in the assault, though one US source described him as an “instigator”.

He is the second Benghazi consulate suspect to be seized by the Americans. In June 2014 Ansar Al-Sharia leader Ahmed Bukhatallah, was captured in Benghazi.   This month, Bukhatallah’s full trial began in the federal court in Washington. He has pleaded not guilty to 18 charges which include murder, supporting terrorism and the destruction of US property.

A year before Bukhatallah’s arrest, US special forces had seized Nazih Abdul-Hamed Nabih Al-Ruqaii, whose nomme de guerre was Abu Anas Al-Libi, from near  his Tripoli home. Said to be a prominent Al-Qaeda leader, he was wanted in connection with the 1998 coordinated truck bombings of the US embassies in Tanzania and Kenya in which 200 people perished. Libi died of cancer in January 2015 on the eve of his trial in New York.

Hailing this latest arrest, Trump said today: “The United States will continue to support our Libyan partners to ensure that ISIS (the so-called Islamic State) and other terrorist groups do not use Libya as a safe haven for attacks against United States citizens or interests, Libyans, and others.”

He added: “Libya’s long-term stability and security are linked to its ability to form a unified government and military”.

This article has been updated. It originally referred to the “Benghazi consulate”. In fact no US consulate had existed in the city since the 1960s. The attacked building and its annex was actually a “Special Mission”. 

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