• Forecast
  • News Tip
  • Categories
Temperature Precipitation
Estimated read time
4m 18s

Benghazi suspect pleads not guilty to conspiracy charges

By Jake Miller / CBS News 5:37 PM June 28, 2014

Ahmed Abu Khatallah, a suspect in the September 2012 attack on a U.S. facility in Benghazi, made his first appearance in a federal courtroom in Washington D.C. on Saturday, where he was charged with providing material support to terrorists. He pleaded not guilty.

Khatallah, with a long, dark gray beard and clad in a dark hooded sweatshirt, entered the Washington courtroom with no cuffs or chains. He had a solemn demeanor and spoke only a few words when asked questions by the magistrate judge.

The judge advised him of the charge against him and of his constitutional rights, and Khatallah then entered his not guilty plea. A detention hearing is scheduled for July 2 and a status hearing for July 8.

A suspected leader of the attack in Benghazi that claimed four American lives, including then-U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens, Khatallah is the first person connected to the attack to be brought into custody and charged under federal law.

He was indicted by a federal grand jury on a single count of conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists. The Department of Justice will likely bring additional charges at a later date.

“Now that Ahmed Abu Khatallah has arrived in the United States, he will face the full weight of our justice system,” said U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder in a statement. “We will prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, the defendant’s alleged role in the attack that killed four brave Americans in Benghazi.”

“Capturing Ahmed Abu Khatallah and bringing him to the U.S. to face justice for his role in killing American citizens in Benghazi is a major step forward in our ongoing investigation,” added FBI Director James B. Comey. “Our work, however, is not over. This case remains one of our top priorities and we will continue to pursue all others who participated in this brazen attack on our citizens and our country.”

After Khatallah was captured by U.S. Special Forces in a secret raid outside Benghazi earlier in June, he was put on the U.S.S. New York, a Navy ship stationed in the Mediterranean, and sent to Washington to stand trial.

US officials tell CBS News Khatallah was read his Miranda rights several days ago, while aboard the ship en-route to the United States. According to the officials, Khatallah had been talkative and cooperating with US interrogators before being read his rights. One official said that the “conversation continued” after Khatallah was Mirandized.

Officials would not characterize what Khatallah was questioned about, or what intelligence was gleaned, but the fact that the ship sailed for almost two weeks with Khatallah talking should indicate that he remained cooperative.

Under legal guidelines, a “clean team” of investigators would have re-started the questioning after Khatallah was read his rights so the information they obtained would be admissible in court.

When Khatallah arrived in D.C. on Saturday via helicopter, a public information officer with the U.S. Attorney’s office there announced he was in law enforcement custody, promising more information to come.

In a criminal complaint unsealed after his capture, Khatallah was accused of murdering Americans, discharging a firearm in the commission of the attack, and conspiring to provide material support to terrorists. He was only indicted on the third count Saturday, and it is that charge on which he’ll be held.

The charge of providing material support to terrorists does not carry a potential death sentence, but if Khatallah is charged and convicted on all counts, he could face execution. The government’s decision to not immediately indict him on all three counts is likely designed to keep their evidence sealed.

Prosecutors will issue subsequent indictments as the investigation continues, including the original three charges and possibly other charges as well.

When Khatallah was taken, President Obama said his capture should send a “message to the world.”

“When Americans are attacked, no matter how long it takes, we will find those responsible and we will bring them to justice,” he said. “Regardless of how long it takes, we will find you, and I want to make sure that everybody around the world hears that message very clearly because my first and most solemn duty as president and commander in chief is to keep the American people safe.”

Some Republicans have criticized the decision to try Khatallah in a civilian court, with several suggesting he should be sent to the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and treated as an enemy combatant.

“America remains at war and a return to the failed law enforcement approach of the 1990s is not an adequate response to the very real threats we face,” said Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., in a statement after Khatallah was captured.

© 2014 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Latest Stories

  • News

    Barcelona terror attack: Several dead in shootout with Spanish police in Cambrils

    by CBS News on Aug 17, 16:40

    CAMBRILS, Spain — Police in Spain say they have shot and killed several people south of Barcelona while carrying out an operation in response to a terrorist attack. The regional police for the Catalonia region said on Twitter early Friday that officers are in Cambrils, a seaside resort town 62 miles from Barcelona. According to […]

  • Authorities investigating incident at Alaska prison

    by Associated Press on Aug 17, 16:25

    FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) – Authorities are investigating an incident at a prison in one of Alaska’s largest cities that a state corrections spokeswoman says resulted in minor damages to the facility. The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports local police and the Alaska State Troopers set up a perimeter outside of the Fairbanks Correctional Center during the […]

  • Lifestyle

    Nokia finally has a flagship Android phone and it’s beautiful

    by CBS News on Aug 17, 16:07

    At last, Nokia has a true flagship Android phone to get excited about. It’s called the Nokia 8 and unlike Nokia’s existing Androids — the 3, 5 and 6 — this one is a real powerhouse. At its core is a top-end Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor with 4GB of RAM. I’ve already run some benchmark […]

  • News

    Barcelona terror attack: At least 13 dead after van barrels into pedestrians

    by CBS News on Aug 17, 15:43

    BARCELONA, Spain — A van veered onto a sidewalk and barreled down a busy pedestrian zone Thursday in Barcelona’s picturesque Las Ramblas district, swerving from side to side as it mowed down tourists and residents and turned the popular European vacation promenade into a bloody killing zone. Thirteen people were killed and 100 were injured in […]

  • Politics

    Senator: Alaskans should vote on tax, oil-wealth proposals

    by Associated Press on Aug 17, 15:26

    JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) – A Republican state senator pursuing a run for governor says Alaskans should get a say on whether the state should impose an income tax or make changes to how the earnings from Alaska’s oil-wealth fund are handled. Sen. Mike Dunleavy of Wasilla says both issues should go to an advisory vote. […]

  • News

    Creditors’ claims could sink Alaska Dispatch News deal, buyers say

    by Chris Klint on Aug 17, 14:21

    The family slated to spearhead a purchase of the state’s largest newspaper defended its proposed financing of the deal in court filings Thursday, saying the paper only has weeks’ worth of pay remaining for employees and that the roughly $1 million purchase won’t occur if other creditors can recover their money from the paper first. […]

  • Driver charged with hitting stopped Glenn Highway motorist

    by Chris Klint on Aug 17, 13:12

    A man trying to help a motorist stopped along the Glenn Highway in rush-hour traffic this week was struck by another vehicle and severely injured, with the driver Anchorage police say is at fault now facing assault charges. Krista Ruesch, 34, was charged with operating under the influence, second-degree assault and reckless endangerment in the […]

  • News

    Trump says he’s sad to see removal of ‘beautiful statues’

    by CBS News/Associated Press on Aug 17, 11:11

    WASHINGTON — President Trump on Thursday said he was sad to see U.S. history being “ripped apart” with the removal of Confederate monuments and statues, which he called “beautiful.” Sad to see the history and culture of our great country being ripped apart with the removal of our beautiful statues and monuments. You….. — Donald J. […]