Mon | Dec 18, 2017

Militant accused in Benghazi attack on his way to US jail

Published:Wednesday | November 1, 2017 | 12:00 AM

WASHINGTON (AP):

United States special operations forces captured a militant in Libya accused of playing an instrumental role in the Benghazi attacks, officials say, in a high-stakes operation designed to bring the perpetrators to justice five years after the deadly violence.

President Donald Trump on Monday identified the militant as Mustafa al-Imam and said his capture signified that the four Americans who died "will never be forgotten".

Justice Department officials were escorting al-Imam by military plane to the United States, where he's expected to be tried in federal court.

"Our memory is deep and our reach is long, and we will not rest in our efforts to find and bring the perpetrators of the heinous attacks in Benghazi to justice," Trump said.

The Navy SEAL-led raid marked the first publicly known operation since Trump took office to target those accused of involvement in Benghazi, which mushroomed into a multiyear political fracas centred on Republican allegations of a bungled Obama administration response. Those critiques shadowed Hillary Clinton, who was secretary of state at the time of the attacks, through her presidential campaign.

US forces captured al-Imam just before midnight local time Sunday in Misrata, on Libya's north coast, US officials said. He was taken to a US Navy ship at the Misrata port for transport by military plane to Washington, where he's expected to arrive within the next two days, one of the officials said.

Once on American soil, al-Imam will face trial in US District Court for the District of Columbia as the FBI continues to investigate, the Justice Department said. He faces three criminal charges that were filed in May 2015 but only recently unsealed: killing or conspiring to kill someone during an attack on a federal facility, providing support for terrorists, and using a firearm in connection with a violent crime.