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Reports: U.S. Files First Criminal Charges In Benghazi Attacks

Sept. 11: The U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, was aflame after coming under attack.
AFP/Getty Images
Sept. 11: The U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, was aflame after coming under attack.

CNN, The Wall Street Journal and NBC News are reporting that the United States has filed charges against a number of people suspected of orchestrating the attacks against the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

The charges would be the first connected to the Sept. 11, 2012 attacks that left four Americans dead, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens.

CNN's Evan Perez, who broke the story, is reporting the U.S. filed charges against Ahmed Khattalah, the leader of a Libyan militia. The Wall Street Journal reports the U.S. has filed charges against "a number of suspects." NBC News is also reporting that Khattalah has been charged.

All of the outlets are sourcing their reports to unnamed "people" with knowledge of the investigation.

That Khattalah has been charged is not really a surprise. He's been interviewed by CNN and The The New York Times in the past and he's been linked to the militia group Ansar al-Shariah, which officials in Washington have suspected was behind the attack.

When the Times caught up with Khattalah back in 2012, he scoffed at the U.S. The Times reported at the time:

"Libya's fledgling national army is a 'national chicken,' Mr. Abu Khattala said, using an Arabic rhyme. Asked who should take responsibility for apprehending the mission's attackers, he smirked at the idea that the weak Libyan government could possibly do it. And he accused the leaders of the United States of 'playing with the emotions of the American people' and 'using the consulate attack just to gather votes for their elections.'"

NBC News reports the charges against Khattalah were filed under seal in New York last month.

"Authorities have not said whether he has been arrested in Libya," NBC News reports. The Journal reports that the "exact nature of the charges wasn't clear."

An FBI spokesman told NPR's Michele Kelemen that the "investigation is ongoing and as such, we aren't able to comment on any aspect of it."

Update at 6:08 p.m. ET. No Comment:

Andrew Ames, a spokesman for the Justice Department's national security division, sent NPR this statement:

"The department's investigation is ongoing. It has been, and remains, a top priority. We have no further comment at this time."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.
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