By Barbara Starr and Zachary Cohen, CNN
US forces captured Mustafa al-Imam in Libya for his alleged role in the 2012 Benghazi attacks that killed four Americans, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens, the White House announced on Monday.
“Yesterday, on my orders, United States forces captured Mustafa al-Imam in Libya,” President Donald Trump said in a statement.
“To the families of these fallen heroes: I want you to know that your loved ones are not forgotten, and they will never be forgotten.”
Mustafa al Imam may have operated under different aliases, an administration official told CNN.
The US government has video of al Imam present at one of the two sites of the attacks that killed four Americans, the official said.
(Three contractors who fought back during the Sept. 11, 2012 attacks and actor John Krasinski discuss the film. Courtesy of ABC News and YouTube. Posted on Jan 16, 2016)
It’s not initially clear whether the video shows al Imam at the consulate or the annex which was also attacked.
The official said the US had been monitoring the terrorist operative’s location for some time.
Once Al Imam was captured, he was flown to a US Navy ship, the official said.
(CNN walks you through what happened the night of the attacks and what the controversy is now. Courtesy of CNN and YouTube. Posted on May 10, 2016)
Al Imam will be transferred to the US for federal prosecution but it is unclear at this time when that transfer will take place.
Libyan authorities were informed in advance about the US mission.
All US troops involved in the operation have been accounted for and there are no initial reports of any injuries among the special operations forces.
Al-Imam’s condition is not known at this time.
(CNN takes us through the night four Americans lost their lives in an terror attack in Benghazi, Libya. Courtesy of CNN and YouTube. Posted on Aug 7, 2013)
“The United States will continue to support our Libyan partners to ensure that ISIS and other terrorist groups do not use Libya as a safe haven for attacks against United States citizens or interests, Libyans, and others,” Trump said in his statement.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions promised Monday that al-Imam “will face justice in federal court for his role in the attack.”
“We will never forget those we lost — Tyrone Woods, Sean Smith, Glen Doherty, and Ambassador Christopher Stevens — four brave Americans who gave their lives in service to our nation.
“We owe it to them and their families to bring their murderers to justice,” Sessions said in a statement.
Al-Imam is the second Benghazi suspect to be taken into US custody.
His capture comes as the attack’s suspected mastermind — Ahmed Abu Khatallah — is currently on trial in Washington.
(Security officer reveals horror of Benghazi attack. Ahmed Abu Khatallah silently took notes and sipped water inside a packed Washington courtroom on Monday as prosecutors outlined their case. Courtesy of Breaking News Today and YouTube. Posted on Oct 2, 2017)
Abu Khatallah faces 18 charges related to the deadly violence that began on September 11, 2012, including the murder of an internationally protected person, providing material support to terrorists and destroying US property while causing death.
During the attack, assailants armed with automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenades first blasted through the main diplomatic mission before setting it ablaze, according to 2014 court papers.
Stevens and State Department information officer Sean Smith died there.
(On the night os Sept. 11, 2012, Islamist militants staged a deadly attack on the U.S. compound in Benghazi, Libya. Five years later, the only suspect charged in the attack is a 46-year-old Libyan, who is on trial in Washington, D.C. Courtesy of CBS Evening News and YouTube. Posted on Oct 7, 2017)
“Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens choked to death by thick black smoke. Sean Smith choked to death by thick black smoke. Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods were ‘blown apart by mortar fire,” federal prosecutor John Crabb told jurors in his opening statement earlier this month.
Libyan National Charged With Federal Offenses in 2012 Attack on U.S. Special Mission and Annex in Benghazi
Mustafa al-Imam, a Libyan national approximately 46 years old, has been charged for his alleged participation in the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. Special Mission and Annex in Benghazi, Libya, which resulted in the deaths of four Americans.
“The murder of four Americans in Benghazi on September 11, 2012 was a barbaric crime that shocked the American people,” said Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
“We will never forget those we lost – Tyrone Woods, Sean Smith, Glen Doherty and Ambassador Christopher Stevens – four brave Americans who gave their lives in service to our nation,” said Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
“We owe it to them and their families to bring their murderers to justice.”
“Today the Department of Justice announces a major step forward in our ongoing investigation as Mustafa al-Imam is now in custody and will face justice in federal court for his role in the attack.”
“I am grateful to the FBI, our partners in the intelligence community and the Department of Defense who made this apprehension possible.”
“The United States will continue to investigate and identify all those who were involved in the attack – and we will hold them accountable for their crimes.”
“The apprehension of Mustafa al-Imam demonstrates our unwavering commitment to holding accountable all of those responsible for the murders of four brave Americans in a terrorist attack in Benghazi,” said U.S. Attorney Jessie K. Liu for the District of Columbia.
“Together with our law enforcement partners, we will do all that we can to pursue justice against those who commit terrorist acts against the United States, no matter how far we must go and how long it takes.”
Mustafa al-Imam is charged in a recently unsealed three-count criminal complaint. The complaint, which was filed under seal on May 19, 2015, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, charges al-Imam with:
- Killing a person in the course of an attack on a federal facility involving the use of a firearm and dangerous weapon and attempting and conspiring to do the same.
- Providing, attempting and conspiring to provide material support to terrorists resulting in death.
- Discharging, brandishing, using, carrying and possession of a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence.
Al-Imam is in U.S. custody, and upon his arrival to the U.S. he will be presented before a federal judge in Washington, D.C.
Charges contained in criminal complaints are merely allegations that a defendant has committed a violation of criminal laws, and every defendant is presumed innocent until, and unless, proven guilty.
The case is being investigated by the FBI’s New York Field Office with substantial assistance from various other government agencies.
The case is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia and the National Security Division of the U.S. Department of Justice.
(Four Americans were lost on Sept. 11, 2012. CNN talks to the families of the victims of Benghazi attack. Courtesy of CNN and YouTube. Posted on Aug 7, 2013)
Editor’s note: Our thoughts and prayers remain with the families, friends and fellow service members who were impacted by this horrific incident. Godspeed to these brave souls. Your lives mattered, so very much, to all of us.