WASHINGTON — The United States has identified five men who might be responsible for the attack on the diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, last year, and has enough evidence to justify seizing them by military force as suspected terrorists, the Associated Press reported Tuesday, citing unnamed U.S. officials.
But there isn't enough proof to try them in a U.S. civilian court as the Obama administration prefers, the officials said.
The men remain at large while the FBI gathers evidence. But the investigation has been slowed by the reduced U.S. intelligence presence in the region since the Sept. 11, 2012, attacks, and by the limited ability to assist by Libya's law enforcement and intelligence agencies, which are still in their infancy since the overthrow of dictator Col. Moammar Gadhafi.
The decision not to seize the men militarily underscores the White House aim to move away from hunting terrorists as enemy combatants and holding them at the military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The preference is toward a process in which most are apprehended and tried by the countries where they are living or arrested by the United States with the host country's cooperation and tried in the U.S. criminal justice system.
A senior administration official said the FBI has identified a number of individuals that it believes have information or may have been involved, and is considering options to bring those responsible to justice. The official spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to discuss the effort publicly.
The Libyan Embassy did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
The attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.