U.S. Says It Captured Suspected Leader of Benghazi Attack

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from The New York Times,

United States commandos have captured the suspected ringleader of the attack on the United States mission in Benghazi, Libya, that killed Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, the White House and Pentagon officials said Tuesday.

Apprehension of the suspect, Ahmed Abu Khattala, is a major breakthrough in the two-and-a-half-year-old investigation into the attack, which also killed three other Americans. President Obama vowed swift action to bring the perpetrators to justice, but efforts to identity and prosecute the attackers were stymied by the chaos of the event and the broader mayhem in Libya.

Officials briefed on the investigation have said for more than a year that a plan to capture Mr. Abu Khattala was on Mr. Obama’s desk awaiting approval. But the administration held back, in part for fear that an American raid to retrieve him might further destabilize the already tenuous Libyan government. Diplomats also suggested that the United States investigators might have been struggling to produce sufficient witness testimony and other evidence to convict Mr. Abu Khattala of responsibility for the deaths in an American court.

The execution of the raid, which was first reported by The Washington Post, appears to signal that the investigators are confident in their case, and it may also reflect an acceptance that Libya is unlikely to become a stable partner in the pursuit of the culprits any time soon.

Indeed, a renegade general based in Benghazi is currently waging a low-grade military campaign against local Islamist militants like Mr. Abu Khattala, and the United States may have sought to arrest the suspect before the general, Khalifa Heftar, killed him in the fighting there.

The Pentagon announced that Mr. Abu Khattala had been captured on Sunday. “All U.S. personnel involved in the operation have safely departed Libya,” a Pentagon statement said.

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