Benghazi suspect pleads not guilty before judge

Libyan militant accused of masterminding deadly Benghazi attacks
Associated Press
Jun 29, 2014

The Libyan militant accused of masterminding the deadly Benghazi attacks that have become a flashpoint in U.S. politics appeared briefly for the first time in an American courtroom, pleading not guilty Saturday to a terrorism-related charge nearly two weeks after he was captured by special forces.

In a 10-minute hearing held amid tight security, Ahmed Abu Khattala spoke just two words, both in Arabic. He replied "yes" when asked to swear to tell the truth and "no" when asked if he was having trouble understanding the proceeding.

Abu Khattala becomes the most recent foreign terror suspect to be prosecuted in American courts, a forum the Obama administration contends is both fairer and more efficient than the military tribunal process used at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The case is being tried in Washington despite concerns from Republicans in Congress who say he should not be entitled to the protections of the U.S. legal system.

A grand jury indictment handed up under seal Thursday and made public Saturday said Abu Khattala participated in a conspiracy to provide material support and resources to terrorists in the attacks of Sept. 11, 2012, that killed U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.

That crime is punishable by up to life in prison. The government said it soon would file more charges against Abu Khattala.

During his initial court appearance, the defendant listened via headphones to a translation of the proceedings. He wore a two-piece black track suit, had a beard and long curly hair, both mostly gray, and kept his hands, which were not handcuffed, behind his back.

He looked impassively at U.S. Magistrate Judge John Facciola for most of the hearing. Abu Khattala's court-appointed lawyer, Michelle Peterson, entered the not guilty plea. Facciola ordered the defendant's continued detention, but the judge did not say where Abu Khattala would be held.

The U.S. Marshals Service said it had taken custody of Abu Khattalah, who now was confined to a detention facility in the capital region, ending a harried day for the Libyan.

U.S. special forces captured Abu Khattala in Libya two weeks ago, marking the first breakthrough in the investigation. Officials had been questioning Abu Khattala aboard a Navy ship that transported him to the United States. He was flown early Saturday by military helicopter from a Navy ship to a National Park Service landing pad in the city's Anacostia neighborhood, according to a U.S. official who was not authorized to discuss the transfer publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

A U.S. official said Abu Khattala had been advised of his Miranda rights at some point during his trip and continued talking after that. The official wasn't authorized to discuss an ongoing investigation by name and spoke on condition of anonymity. The nature of those conversations wasn't immediately clear.

A criminal complaint filed last year and unsealed after Abu Khattala's capture charged him with terror-related crimes, including killing a person during an attack on a federal facility. A new, single-count indictment will likely be superseded by additional charges, prosecutors say.

The violence in Libya on the 11th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon quickly became a political controversy at home.

Republicans accused the White House, as the 2012 presidential election neared, of intentionally misleading the public about what prompted the attacks. The White House said Republicans were politicizing a national tragedy.

Abu Khattala was a prominent figure in Benghazi's circles of extremists. He was popular among young radicals and lived openly in the eastern Libyan city, spotted at cafes and other public places, even after the Obama administration publicly named him as a suspect.

He is accused of being a member of the Ansar al-Shariah group, the powerful Islamic militia that the U.S. believes was behind the attack.

He acknowledged in an interview with The Associated Press in January that he was present during the storming of the U.S. mission in Benghazi. But he denied involvement in the attack, saying he was trying to organize a rescue of trapped people.

In the attack, gunmen fired rocket-propelled grenades and stormed the mission, with many waving the black banners of Ansar al-Shariah.

The compound's main building was set ablaze. Stevens suffocated inside and another American was shot dead.

At the time, several witnesses said they saw Abu Khattala directing fighters at the site.

Later in the evening, gunmen attacked and shelled a safe house, killing two more Americans. No evidence has emerged that Abu Khattala was involved in the later attack.

Abu Khattala is one of just a few cases in which the administration has captured a suspected terrorist overseas and interrogated him for intelligence purposes before bringing him to federal court to face charges.

Comments

meowmix

Thanks deertracker! Glad to know you could see what my point was. Obviously, Contankerous prefers to sit on his brain.

Contango

Re: "what my point was,"

And if he were a left wing extremist, to you he'd be a victim.

It was the video that made him do it!

THAT'S your "point."

deertracker

@meowmix
What brain???????????????

Contango

Re: "SMDH!"

"D*mn head" is right, three time loser Squeaky.

Ms. Clinton: "What difference – at this point, what difference does it make?"

She obviously doesn't give a sh*t. Great presidential mat'l! lol

Contango

Re: "blaming the President and Hillary"

Were they in charge or not?

Hillary's 3:00 AM call came in and she let voicemail take it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a...

Donegan

http://www.usatoday.com/story/ne...
The CIA disagrees with you.

deertracker

Of course they do but that is what happened.

Donegan

That's funny. All the intelligence says it was a terrorist attack but somehow the president found out it wasn't from the 18th hole of the golf course.
This is the reason why no one listens to you people, your completely delusional. Just because your god says some thing does not mean its true. All politicians lie, Democrats doubly so.

Dr. Information

How old was this video that supposedly caused all of this? Wasn't it like already 2 years old when Benghazi happened? What do they have over in the middle east, turtle dialup?

There are so many videos online making fun of towel heads etc.

This is nothing more than an excuse and I agree with Contango; Liberals will bypass the facts and start to feel sympathy for this guy.

Contango

Re: "video,"

Did you see it? I watched about 5-10 mins. of it.

It was infantile, stupid and poorly done.

IMO, the video is an excuse NOT a reason.

Again: Why did the U.S. have a consulate in Benghazi when the Brits and others had pulled out previously due to the presence of al-Qaeda activity?

Besides, Pres. Obama got the U.S. militarily involved in the Libyan civil war in the first place. Why aren't the left wing extremist blog idiots b*tching about THAT?

We need an independent inquiry - too much politics!

IMO, it has CIA fingerprints all over it and THAT'S why the Obama admin. has to cover it up; to protect the Political Ruling Class.

meowmix

BULL HOCKEY--

Contango

Re: "BULL HOCKEY--"

As a rabid Obama supporter, that's a subject that you're an expert in. :)

You're bud, got the U.S. militarily involved in the Libyan civil war in the first place. He told Congress to shove it. Where's that self-righteous lefty outrage?

deertracker

You are dealing with infantile minds over there. The Libya intervention was ALWAYS a CIA operation. Their goal was regime change and they made it happen.

Contango

Re: "The Libya intervention was ALWAYS a CIA operation,"

Got a link for proof, or just your usual clueless babble, three time loser squeaky?

Contango

Re: "regime change,"

Dem wars - good, Rep with Dem supported wars - BAD.

Poor, sad lil' pipsqueak.

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