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Libyan militant leader gets 22 years in prison for role in deadly 2012 Benghazi attacks

Ahmed Abu Khattala (U.S. Attorney's Office)
June 28, 2018

The Libyan militant leader who was convicted for his role in the deadly 2012 Benghazi attacks that killed four Americans, including a U.S. Ambassador, was sentenced to 22 years in prison on Wednesday.

Ahmed Abu Khattala, 47, was convicted on charges that included conspiracy and providing material support to terrorists. However, he was not convicted of murder charges; a jury acquitted him and found him not guilty of murder and attempted murder charges back in November.

The defense had asked for 15 years while prosecutors wanted a life sentence.

U.S. District Judge Christopher “Casey” Cooper considered Khattala’s role as ringleader of the Sept. 11, 2012 attacks when handing down his sentence.

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.

Back in November, Khattala was found not guilty of murder in the Sept. 11, 2012, Benghazi attacks on a U.S. diplomatic compound that killed four Americans.

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

The jury acquitted Khattala of 14 of the 18 charges he faced after the jury deliberated for five days following a seven-week trial. The federal trial for Khattala had started in October.

The real crime is that Khattala was allowed to be tried in a United States’ court of law and given due process, according to Kris “Tanto” Paronto, one of the heroes and survivors of Benghazi, where he was part of the CIA security team there.

He and Navy SEAL Rob O’Neill, who fired the shots that killed Osama bin Laden in 2011, tweeted back and forth after the acquittal about how a terrorist “animal” was given due process.

“The mastermind of the Benghazi terror attack was just acquitted,” O’Neill wrote. “This is what happens when you give due process, reserved for citizens, to animals.” He tagged Paronto in the post.

Paronto tweeted back: “Correct brother… the only due process any piece of sh*t terrorist deserves is his right to have 5.56 or 7.62… I’m surprised [Barack Obama] and [Hillary Clinton] did [not] require you to Mirandize UBL before putting a bullet in him.”

To which O’Neill replied, “Well said.”

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.