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April 28, 2017

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US commandos capture Benghazi attack 'ringleader'

WASHINGTON -- U.S. commandos have captured the suspected ringleader of a deadly 2012 attack on an American compound in the Libyan city of Benghazi, in a raid hailed by the White House as a triumph for justice.

Special forces, working with FBI agents, carried out Sunday's stealth operation in Libya under cover of darkness and withdrew without losses, though Washington was giving away few details.

Ahmed Abu Khatallah is now en route to the United States, where he could face the death penalty, officials said Tuesday.

The raid represented a victory for President Barack Obama, who has faced intense criticism over his administration's handling of the Sept. 11, 2012 Benghazi assault and its aftermath.

Four Americans including U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens were killed when gunmen stormed the U.S. Consulate and set it on fire, and a CIA outpost was also targeted.

"The United States has an unwavering commitment to bring to justice those responsible for harming Americans," Obama said.

"Since the deadly attacks on our facilities in Benghazi, I have made it a priority to find and bring to justice those responsible for the deaths of four brave Americans."

Attorney General Eric Holder said the raid showed "our nation's memory is long and our reach is far."

There were no civilian or other casualties in Sunday's raid and U.S. troops taking part in the operation have "safely departed Libya," Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby said.

Kirby would not say whether Washington gave advance notice to Tripoli.

He said it was a "unilateral" action without any Libyan forces involved but declined to offer more details of the operation, including whether any shots were fired.

The suspect was being held temporarily on a naval ship, as in similar raids in the past, according to defense officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Top U.S. diplomat John Kerry called the raid a "bold action" that served as a reminder that there was no "impunity" for militants trying to harm America.

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