Libyan militant guilty of Benghazi terror attack sentenced to 22 years in prison

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Few conservatives will ever forget the terror attack by Libyan militants on a U.S. diplomatic compound and secret CIA annex in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11, 2012, which claimed the lives of four Americans, including U.S. ambassador Christopher Stevens.

Though the former political leaders who are suspected of attempting to cover up the attack have yet to be fully held to account, it appears at least one Libyan militia leader found guilty of participating in the attack will now spend a significant amount of time behind bars.

A quarter of a century

Ahmed Abu Khattalah, who was found guilty of conspiracy and providing material support to terrorists among other charges in November 2017, was just sentenced to 22 years in a federal prison.

Khattalah is believed to have directed his militia, Ubaydah bin Jarrah, via cell phone communications prior to and during the violent assault on the U.S. Special Mission compound in Benghazi.

He is also alleged to have obstructed efforts by emergency responders to approach the compound during and after the assault.

A brutal attack

That attack saw numerous terrorists armed with AK-47 automatic rifles and rocket-propelled grenades, among other weapons, breach the compound and set the buildings ablaze. Both Ambassador Stevens and an analyst named Sean Smith were killed in that portion of the attack.

Once the compound had been evacuated by American personnel on the ground, the attack resumed later at the formerly secret CIA annex where the compound’s survivors had regrouped. It was at the annex that private security contractors Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods were killed in the terrorists’ repeated assault waves.

Prosecutors had sought a life sentence for Khattalah, but defense attorneys had asked for a mere 15 years in prison for their client.

“This fact alone, the first killing of a U.S. Ambassador while in the performance of his duties in nearly 40 years, makes this case a truly singular event and warrants imposition of the maximum sentence permissible under the law,” wrote Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael DiLorenzo in court filings ahead of the sentencing hearing.

Guilty as charged

U.S. District Court Judge Christopher “Casey” Cooper settled on a 22-year sentence for the convicted terrorist leader, and told Khattalah: “Even if you did not pour the gasoline or light the match, the evidence showed you were aware of the attack, and once the gates were breached, the likelihood someone would die was extremely high. This was not guilt by association.”

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Though we would have preferred to see a much lengthier sentence handed down for the one individual held responsible for the tragic terror attack in Benghazi, we are nevertheless glad that at least somebody has been held to account.

It would be nice to see some of the former Obama administration officials who are believed to bear some responsibility for Benghazi also held accountable — but only time will tell if we’ll ever get that wish.

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