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Benghazi Suspect Abu Khattala Charged In U.S. Court

Ahmed Abu Khattala pleaded not guilty to one terrorism charge stemming from his alleged involvement in the 2012 Benghazi attacks.
Posted at 8:40 PM, Jun 28, 2014

Ahmed Abu Khattala, a Libyan militant suspected of orchestrating the 2012 attacks on a U.S. consulate in Benghazi, has pleaded not guilty to terrorism charges in a Washington D.C. courthouse.

During Khattala's court appearance, which lasted just ten minutes, he pleaded not guilty to one charge of providing material support to terrorists. Federal prosecutors say they may add additional charges as the investigation continues. (Via MSNBC)

Prosecutors claim Khattala played a key role in the 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, which killed four Americans including U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens. (Via Al Jazeera)

In a 2013 piece on the Benghazi attacks, The New York Times reported ​"Mr. Abu Khattala's presence and leadership were evident. ... A procession of fighters hurried to him out of the smoke and gunfire, addressed him as 'sheikh' and then gave him reports or took his orders before plunging back into the compound."

FBI Director James Comey called Khattala's appearance in court "a major step forward in our ongoing investigation. ... This case remains one of our top priorities and we will continue to pursue all others who participated in this brazen attack on our citizens and our country."

Khattala was captured by U.S. special forces in Libya two weeks ago, and was transported to the U.S. on a Navy warship. Fox News notes Khattala was interrogated extrajudicially by an American intelligence team during his trip to the states.

"The information that they were gleaning aboard that ship is really for intelligence purposes, to try and prevent future attacks, to learn more about Ansar al-Sharia, his group, and to try and find out more about what was happening on the ground in Benghazi."

Khattala's next court date is a status hearing on July 8, followed by a detention hearing on July 12.