A federal grand jury indicted Libyan militant Ahmed Abu Khattala on 17 new charges relating to the 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, the Justice Department announced on Tuesday. Abu Khattala was captured earlier this year in Libya by American forces and is the first to face prosecution for the attack that killed four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens.
Abu Khattala, who is currently in prison in the U.S., was indicted previously on a single count, which the Associated Press reports, U.S. officials used as “a placeholder to allow for him to be brought into court and for a grand jury to hear more evidence.” The new superseding indictment elaborates on the government’s accusations and means Abu Khattala could face the death penalty for his crimes. Here’s more on what Abu Khattala stands accused of from the AP:
Federal prosecutors have long accused Abu Khattala of being a ringleader of the Sept. 11, 2012, attacks… The superseding indictment alleges that Abu Khattala was involved in two different attacks, hours apart, on the diplomatic compound… In the first burst of violence on the night of Sept. 11, prosecutors allege, Abu Khattala drove to the diplomatic mission with other militants and a group of about 20 breached the main gate and later launched an attack with assault rifles, grenades and other weapons. That initial attack killed Stevens and communications specialist Sean Smith and set the mission ablaze.
Prosecutors say Khattala supervised the plunder of sensitive information from that building, then returned to a camp in Benghazi where a large group began assembling for an attack on a second building known as the annex. The attack on that facility, including a precision mortar barrage, resulted in the deaths of security officers Tyrone Snowden Woods and Glen Anthony Doherty, authorities say.