Skip to main content

Source: Suspected mastermind of Benghazi attack heading soon to U.S.

By Evan Perez and Greg Botelho, CNN
updated 4:06 PM EDT, Fri June 27, 2014
People gather to look at the site of a car bombing in Benghazi, Libya, on Wednesday, September 11. The bomb went off outside a Foreign Ministry building, state media said, one year after an assault on the U.S. Consulate there that killed four Americans, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens. People gather to look at the site of a car bombing in Benghazi, Libya, on Wednesday, September 11. The bomb went off outside a Foreign Ministry building, state media said, one year after an assault on the U.S. Consulate there that killed four Americans, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens.
HIDE CAPTION
Blast rocks Benghazi
Blast rocks Benghazi
Blast rocks Benghazi
Blast rocks Benghazi
Blast rocks Benghazi
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • 4 Americans, including its ambassador to Libya, died in a 2012 attack on a mission
  • Obama has said that Ahmed Abu Khatallah was "one of the masterminds" of the attack
  • Abu Khatallah was nabbed by U.S. commandos, FBI agents this month in Libya
  • He's expected to be prosecuted in a federal court in Washington

(CNN) -- The suspected mastermind of the deadly 2012 attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, is expected to be brought to American soil as soon as this weekend, a senior law enforcement source told CNN on Thursday.

Ahmed Abu Khatallah was lured earlier this month to a location south of the city in eastern Libya and grabbed without a fight by U.S. commandos and FBI agents, multiple officials said.

He's spent most of the past two weeks aboard the USS New York being interrogated by the FBI-led High Value Detainee Interrogation Group, known as HIG, that includes agents from the FBI, CIA and the Defense Intelligence Agency.

As that vessel -- an amphibious transport dock ship -- nears the coast, it is expected that Abu Khatallah will be flown off of it on a V-22 Osprey aircraft to an undisclosed location, where he will be held as he awaits prosecution in a federal court in Washington.

Khatallah: A slow boat to the U.S.
Interrogating the captured Benghazi suspect

The Justice Department is expected to announce a formal indictment of Abu Khatallah soon after he arrives in the United States.

Already, a federal judge has unsealed charges accusing Abu Khatallah of killing a person in the course of an attack on a federal facility with a firearm and dangerous weapons, as well as attempting and conspiring to provide material support to terrorists resulting in death.

Abu Khatallah is accused in connection with the September 11, 2012, attack that left U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other U.S. citizens dead.

President Barack Obama has described Abu Khatallah as "one of the masterminds of the attack."

"It's a message to the world, that when Americans are attacked, no matter how long it takes, we will find those responsible and we will bring them to justice. Regardless how long it takes, we will find you," the President said earlier this month.

Republicans, though, have hammered Obama and members of his administration on Benghazi -- claiming they didn't do enough to protect the diplomatic mission and have since covered up what happened. Some GOP lawmakers criticized the Justice Department for failing to bring Abu Khatallah to justice even as he taunted U.S. authorities in a meeting with CNN's Arwa Damon at a well-known luxury hotel in Benghazi in May 2013.

Chief among those targeted by Republicans is Hillary Clinton, secretary of state at the time of the attack and now the overwhelming favorite for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, if she opts to run. She and administration officials have repeatedly denied the GOP allegations about Benghazi.

After news broke of Abu Khatallah's capture, Clinton said she was "very pleased" and hopefully it will shed more light on what happened.

"I'm still looking for answers," she added. "We're doing our best we can to find out what happened."

READ: Sources: Benghazi 'mastermind' captured without a single shot fired

CNN's Barbara Starr and Michael Martinez contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
Attack on U.S. compound in Benghazi
updated 1:21 PM EDT, Wed August 7, 2013
September 11, 2012, in America was a day of solemn remembrance. In Libya, it was a day of violence that ended with four Americans killed.
updated 4:52 PM EDT, Wed June 18, 2014
Now that he is in custody, what will U.S. officials do with alleged Benghazi mastermind Ahmed Abu Khatallah?
updated 10:10 PM EDT, Tue June 17, 2014
Benghazi attack suspect Ahmed Abu Khatallah was watched by U.S. commandos, law enforcement and intelligence for days before his capture.
updated 11:13 AM EDT, Sat September 15, 2012
U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens died in an assault on the American Consulate in Benghazi.
updated 1:15 AM EDT, Sat September 15, 2012
Former Navy SEAL commandos working as diplomatic security officers and a computer expert were among the victims of the deadly Benghazi attack.
updated 1:04 AM EDT, Wed August 7, 2013
Four Americans were lost on September 11, 2012. Erin Burnett talks to the families of the victims of Benghazi attack.
updated 11:07 PM EST, Wed January 15, 2014
A report says the deadly attack in Benghazi was "likely preventable" based on known security shortfalls and prior warnings that the security situation there was deteriorating.
updated 10:04 PM EST, Fri November 15, 2013
CIA contract security officers who responded to the attacks on the U.S. ambassador in Benghazi were told by the CIA to sign nondisclosure agreements, a congressional source told CNN.
updated 1:00 AM EDT, Wed August 7, 2013
Could the Benghazi attack have been prevented? And why didn't the U.S. military respond in time? John King reports.
updated 4:18 PM EDT, Tue August 6, 2013
Erin Burnett talks to Geoff Porter about why there wasn't enough manpower in Benghazi prior to the attack.
updated 11:27 AM EDT, Fri May 9, 2014
Republicans call it a government cover-up similar to what forced Richard Nixon to resign. Democrats call it a right-wing conspiracy theory.
updated 1:23 PM EDT, Wed August 7, 2013
Benghazi remains a flashpoint in Washington for two very different reasons: indefensible pre-attack policy decisions and irresistible post-attack politics.
Nine months later, there were no leads, no significant arrests and a shroud of fear hanging over conversations about the U.S. consulate.
updated 1:20 AM EDT, Wed August 7, 2013
CNN's Erin Burnett takes us through the night four Americans lost their lives in a terror attack in Benghazi, Libya.
updated 1:33 PM EDT, Tue June 17, 2014
Arwa Damon returned to Libya and spoke to a Libyan militia leader who is now charged in the Benghazi attack.
updated 11:35 AM EDT, Wed August 7, 2013
Federal authorities have filed the first charges related to the terror attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi.
updated 7:23 PM EDT, Wed September 24, 2014
Here's a look at what you need to know about the September 11, 2012 attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya.
updated 5:42 PM EDT, Wed June 18, 2014
Attackers set the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, on fire on September 11, 2012.
ADVERTISEMENT