Beng­hazi indictment re­futes video nar­ra­tive

De­tails plans to at­tack diplo­matic com­pound

The Washington Times Weekly - - National - BY STEPHEN DI­NAN

Fed­eral pros­e­cu­tors won an 18-count indictment against ac­cused Beng­hazi at­tacker Ahmed Abu Khatalla on Tues­day, which charges him with lead­ing the as­sault that killed the U.S. am­bas­sador to Libya and makes him el­i­gi­ble for the death penalty.

The indictment, handed up in fed­eral dis­trict court in Wash­ing­ton, also puts the fi­nal nail in the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s ini­tial claim that the 2012 at­tack was a re­ac­tion to a video that mocked Is­lam. In­stead, the indictment de­tails Mr. Khatalla’s or­ches­trated plans to at­tack the diplo­matic com­pound, be­liev­ing it to be a CIA out­post.

“On or be­fore Septem­ber 11, 2012, Khatalla in­formed oth­ers that there was an Amer­i­can fa­cil­ity in Beng­hazi pos­ing as a diplo­matic post, that he be­lieved the fa­cil­ity was ac­tu­ally be­ing used to col­lect in­tel­li­gence, that he viewed U.S. in­tel­li­gence ac­tions in Beng­hazi as il­le­gal and that he was, there­fore, go­ing to do some­thing about this fa­cil­ity,” the indictment says.

While that in­for­ma­tion had been made pub­lic in other set­tings, it marks the first time the gov­ern­ment has de­tailed it in open court doc­u­ments.

“Ahmed Abu Khatal­lah’s role in the Beng­hazi at­tack is even clearer,” said George Venizelos, as­sis­tant di­rec­tor in charge of the FBI’s New York field of­fice. “As the charges al­lege, he was the leader of an ex­trem­ist mili­tia group who car­ried out this bru­tal act of vi­o­lence that took the lives of four hon­or­able Americans.”

The new indictment su­per­sedes the one-count indictment the gov­ern­ment un­veiled in June after Mr. Khatalla was cap­tured and brought to the U.S. He is now charged with be­ing part of the con­spir­acy and tak­ing part in the ac­tual at­tack that killed four Americans, in­clud­ing Am­bas­sador J. Christo­pher Stevens.

Mr. Khatalla pleaded not guilty to the ear­lier indictment. He will be ar­raigned on the new charges Oct. 20, the Jus­tice Depart­ment said.

In the im­me­di­ate af­ter­math of the at­tack, which be­gan the night of Sept. 11, 2012, and car­ried over into the morn­ing of Sept. 12, the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion said the at­tack was spurred by an In­ter­net video mock­ing Is­lam. Hours ear­lier, a protest out­side the U.S. em­bassy in Cairo had fo­cused on the video.

But the indictment says Mr. Khatalla’s goal was in fact to de­stroy what he be­lieved to be a U.S.-run in­tel­li­gence-gath­er­ing out­post on Libyan soil.

The doc­u­ment also specif­i­cally ties Mr. Khatalla to An­sar al-Sharia, the ex­trem­ist group that quickly claimed re­spon­si­bil­ity for the at­tack, a claim the ad­min­is­tra­tion ini­tially pub­licly re­jected. The indictment says Mr. Khatalla led Ubay­dah Bin Jar­rah, an Is­lamist mili­tia, which merged in 2011 with An­sar al-Sharia, mak­ing Mr. Khatalla a leader of that or­ga­ni­za­tion.

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