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Libyan militant leader accused of 2012 Benghazi attack found not guilty of murder, convicted of terrorism

Ahmed Abu Khattala (U.S. Attorney's Office)
November 28, 2017

This is a breaking news story.

A Libyan militant and alleged mastermind of the 2012 Benghazi attack that killed four Americans was convicted of terrorism charges Tuesday, but the jury found him not guilty in other serious charges, including murder.

Ahmed Abu Khattala, 46, was found not guilty of murder in the Sept. 11, 2012, Benghazi attack on a U.S. diplomatic compound that killed four Americans.

Benghazi (Twitter)

He was convicted of conspiracy to provide material support for terrorism and faces up to 60 years in prison.

The jury acquitted Abu Khattala of 14 of the 18 charges he faced after the jury deliberated for five days following a seven-week trial.

The 2012 attacks killed U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens; U.S. Foreign Service Information Management Officer Sean Smith; and CIA contractors Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty, both former Navy SEALs.

Benghazi victims (Twitter)

The federal trial for Libyan militia leader Ahmed Abu Khattala, the alleged mastermind behind the 2012 terror attacks on the U.S. government facilities in Benghazi, started in October.

On Sept. 11, 2012, at around 9:40 p.m. local time, a large number of armed men attacked the government compound in Benghazi. Stevens and Smith died from smoke inhalation, while Woods and Doherty were killed by two separate mortar rounds that hit their position at the CIA annex.

The Benghazi attack was initially thought to be a response from an angry mob in retaliation of a recently released anti-Muslim video titled “Innocence of Muslims.” However, it was later deemed to be a terrorist attack.

A report released last year revealed that the Obama administration and then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton failed to protect the American diplomats.

The 800-page report revealed that in the months leading up to the attack, there was worsening security in Libya, poor bureaucratic leadership and inadequate resources. The report showed Clinton and the State Department’s inadequacy to protect the Libyan diplomatic outpost. The report also revealed that the CIA missed the threat and wrote faulty intelligence after the attack.

Clinton told a U.S. House committee that she was aware of the dangers in Libya but “there was no actionable intelligence” indicating a planned terrorist attack. The report showed that intelligence was available, but Clinton and her top aide, Patrick Kennedy, failed to realize the risk of a potential attack.

The 800 page report took more than 2 years to investigate and complete.