United States commandos have captured the suspected ringleader of the attack on the United States mission in Benghazi, Libya, that killed Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, Pentagon officials said Tuesday. Apprehension of the suspect, Ahmed Abu Khattala, is the major breakthrough in the two-and-a-half-year-old investigation into the attack, which also killed three other Americans. President Obama vowed swift action to bring the perpetrators to justice.
Last August, President Obama held a White House press conference and fielded a question from Fox News' Ed Henry about the Benghazi attack from 11 months earlier
Henry told the president, "You said on September 12th, 'Make no mistake, we'll bring to justice the killers who attacked our people.' Eleven months later, where are they, sir?" Obama replied, "Well, I also said that we'd get bin Laden, and I didn't get him in 11 months.... [W]e are intent on capturing those who carried out this attack, and we're going to stay on it until we get them."
It appears the president meant it.
The Washington Post report added some important details, explaining that this secret mission required months of planning and involved coordination between U.S. troops in Libya and the FBI.
A "jubilant" U.S. official described Abu Khattala's capture as "a reminder that when the United States says it's going to hold someone accountable and he will face justice, this is what we mean."
Even better, officials confirmed that the mission was completed without any U.S. casualties and the personnel involved have all safely left Libya.
NBC News added that the suspected terrorist is in custody at an undisclosed location outside Libya, after having been captured over the weekend "in an extremely tightly-held [Special Operations Forces] operation."
The officials tell NBC News Abu Khattala is currently being interrogated by FBI officials in a "criminal case to be prosecuted by the Justice Department."
At least at first blush, this would appear to be a breakthrough victory for the Obama administration and the United States overall, and it's not yet clear what kind of partisan complaints, if any, we should expect from the White House's critics, many of whom have clung to Benghazi conspiracy theories since the 2012 attack.