WASHINGTON — The Obama administration for the first time on Friday identified two militant groups in Libya, including one led by a former Guantanamo Bay detainee, as being allegedly involved in the attack in Benghazi that killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.
The department designated two separate branches of Ansar al-Sharia in Libya, those in the cities of Derna and Benghazi, and a third branch in Tunisia as foreign terrorist organizations.
It also named Sufian bin Qumu, the leader of the Derna branch, and Ahmed Abu Khattala, a senior leader of the Benghazi branch, as specially designated global terrorists.
Qumu was released from Guantanamo Bay in 2007 and later freed in Libya. He had fought in Afghanistan.
The Sept. 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi is still a political issue. Republicans in Congress criticized the Obama administration's handling of the attack and the level of security at the outpost.
U.S. officials have said that Khattala and an unspecified number of others have been named in a sealed complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Washington, but it's unclear what they have been charged with. No one has been arrested in the attack in which a group of militants set fire to the diplomatic mission and killed the four.