Charges filed in Benghazi terrorist attack

Nearly a year after the terrorist attack on the American compound in Benghazi that claimed the lives of four Americans, the United States has finally filed charges in the effort to bring the attackers to justice.

Ahmed Abu Khattala, who is suspected to have led the attack, has been charged with murder, though prospects of arrest and negotiations with the Libyan government over where he will be tried seem tenuous:

Federal law enforcement authorities have filed murder charges against Ahmed Abu Khattala, a prominent militia leader in Benghazi, Libya, in connection with the attacks on a diplomatic mission there last Sept. 11 that killed the United States ambassador and three other Americans, according to senior law enforcement and United States officials.

The authorities have identified roughly a dozen others who they said they believe participated in the attacks, and have filed charges under seal against some of them, the officials said.

Despite making progress in the investigation, some F.B.I. agents who are leading it from Tripoli, the capital of Libya, have grown frustrated that there have been no arrests, the officials said. Apprehending the suspects will most likely take significant negotiations between the State Department and the Libyan government over who will try to do so and where the suspects will be tried.

It is not clear that either government knows the whereabouts of all the suspects.

The timing of this report seems rather peculiar, given the increased criticism over the handling of the investigation and reports that the CIA is actively working to keep its agents from talking to Congress.

Another interesting point in this story is that CNN reporter recently interviewed Khattala in a “coffee shop at a well-known hotel in Benghazi.” While the now-accused murderer admitted to being at the American compound the night of the attack, Khattala denied that any involvement and told CNN that American investigators hadn’t tried to talk to him. He added that he would be willing to talk to investigators, but not in an interrogation.

That interview has led Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) to wonder how CNN can talk to a suspected terrorist out in the open, but not be arrested by law enforcement officials working the case.

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