5 years ago in Libya, September 11th was a day of violence that ended with four Americans killed, in a quest to solve the Libyan crisis. Ambassador Christopher Stevens was in Benghazi that day to meet with officials over the hunt for ousted Libyan leader Moammar Ghadafi’s weapons stockpiles and to open a cultural center.
Federal prosecutors opened their case against Ahmed Abu Khatallah on Monday by telling jurors he orchestrated the 2012 attack on a U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, that killed U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.
Khatallah has been awaiting trial since 2014, when he was captured by a team of U.S. military and FBI officials in Libya and transported on a 13-day journey to the United States aboard a Navy vessel.
In his opening statement in U.S. District court for the District of Columbia, federal prosecutor John Crabb said Khatallah hates America “with a vengeance” and played a leading role in organizing the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi.
Khatallah, he said, “didn’t light the fires and he didn’t fire the mortars but you will hear he is just as guilty as the men who lit those fires.”
Attack Survivor Recounts a Night of Horror
A diplomatic security agent testified Monday that after militants stormed the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, he turned to U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens, who was hiding in a safe room, and said, “When I die, you need to pick up my gun and keep fighting.”
Agent Scott Wickland was the government’s first witness in a trial of Ahmed Abu Khattala, a Libyan suspected of orchestrating the attack that killed the ambassador and three other Americans. Wickland took the stand and gave a harrowing account of how he tried without success to save the ambassador and Sean Patrick Smith, a State Department information management officer.
The smoke from weapons’ fire and explosions was so thick and black that it blinded the three. They dropped to the floor and crawled on their bellies, gasping for air. Wickland said he was trying to lead them to a bathroom where he could close the door and open a window.
Benghazi port in Libya open again after 3 years
You may want to know Benghazi port in east Libya reopened on Sunday for the first time in three years after being forced to cease operations because of clashes in the cradle of the 2011 revolution.
Commercial operations at the port had ended in 2014 when armed movements, including the Islamic State group, occupied the North African country’s second city.
They were expelled in July this year by the forces of military strongman Khalifa Haftar who backs a rival administration in the east to the UN-recognised government in Tripoli.