U.S. special operations troops have captured a militant believed to be a key figure in the 2012 attack against the special mission compound in Benghazi that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.
Commandos captured Mustafa al-Imam in Libya just before midnight local time Sunday, reports the Associated Press, citing administration officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity. Al-Imam is now in Department of Justice custody and is expected to arrive in the U.S. within the next two days on a military plane.
President Donald Trump approved the operation, which was conducted with the assistance of Libya’s internationally recognized government.
“Yesterday, on my orders, United States forces captured Mustafa al-Imam in Libya,” Trump said in a statement Monday afternoon. “Because of this successful operation, al-Imam will face justice in the United States for his alleged role in the September 11, 2012 attacks in Benghazi, which resulted in the deaths of Ambassador Christopher Stevens, Glen Doherty, Sean Smith, and Tyrone Woods — four brave Americans who were serving our country.”
The Benghazi attacks were a major political scandal for the Obama administration and spurred multiple investigations into failures of security oversight at the highest levels of the State Department. Republican opponents accused then-President Barack Obama and then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton of failing to provide adequate security resources to the special mission compound and then misleading the American public about the nature of the attacks.
A two-year investigation by the House Benghazi committee focused on whether top State Department officials, including Clinton, ignored repeated warnings from on-the-ground personnel that the compound was vulnerable to attack. The House probe into Clinton’s role revealed that she had used a private email server for official business, which became a defining issue in the 2016 presidential campaign.
U.S. forces captured the alleged mastermind of the attack, Ahmed Abu Khatta, at a villa near Benghazi in 2014. Khatta is currently standing trial in Washington for multiple criminal charges, including conspiracy to murder four Americans and to destroy U.S. property. (RELATED: ‘All Hell Broke Loose’: CIA Officers Give Emotional Testimony At Benghazi Trial)
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