Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Suspect in Benghazi attack, in plain sight, scoffs at U.S.

BENGHAZI, Libya — Just days after President Barack Obama vowed to hunt down and bring to justice those responsible for the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound here, Ahmed Abu Khattala — one of those considered a ringleader — spent two leisurely hours Thursday evening at a luxury hotel full of journalists, scoffing at the threats coming from both the American and Libyan governments.

Libya's fledgling national army was a "national chicken," Abu Khattala said, using an Arabic rhyme. Asked who should take responsibility for apprehending the mission's attackers, he chuckled at the weakness of the Libyan authorities. And he accused U.S. leaders of "playing with the emotions of the American people" and "using the consulate attack just to gather votes for their elections."

Abu Khattala's defiance — no authority has even questioned him about the attack, he said, and he has no plans to go into hiding — offered insight into the shadowy landscape of the self-formed militias that have come to constitute the only source of social order in Libya since the fall of Moammar Gadhafi.

A few, like the militia group Ansar al-Shariah that is linked to Abu Khattala and that officials in Washington and Tripoli agree was behind the attack, have embraced an extremist ideology hostile to the West and nursed ambitions to extend it over Libya. But also troubling to the United States is the evident tolerance shown by other brigades thought to be more accepting of the West, which have so far declined to take any action against suspects in the Benghazi attack.

Abu Khattala, 41, insisted he had no role in the attack and said he was not a member of al-Qaida, but declared he would be proud to be associated with al-Qaida's puritanical zeal for Islamic law. And he said the United States had its own foreign policy to blame for the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

"Why is the United States always trying to impose its ideology on everyone else?" he asked. "Why is it always trying to use force to implement its agendas?"

Suspect in Benghazi attack, in plain sight, scoffs at U.S. 10/18/12 [Last modified: Thursday, October 18, 2012 11:04pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, New York Times.
    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. For Fourth of July, an American feast inspired by founding father Alexander Hamilton

    Cooking

    Are there a million things you haven't done? Is one of them throwing a patriotic party inspired by one of the founding fathers?

    Caribbean Pork With Potato Salad makes for the perfect Fourth of July meal.
  2. 'Baby Driver' literally turns heist movie genre on its ear, set to slick soundtrack

    Movies

    Buckle up for Baby Driver, a movie so full throttle cool that you want to fist bump the screen. Style is the substance of Edgar Wright's inventive heist flick, a fresh, masterful synching of music and getaway mayhem, as if La La Land's traffic jam was moving, armed and dangerous.

    Baby (Ansel Elgort) is a getaway driver for heist arranger Doc (Kevin Spacey). Plagued by tinnitus, Baby tunes out his distracting “hum in the drum” by listening to music while he drives.
Sony Pictures
  3. Former mayor Rick Baker, left, is challenging incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman, right, to become St. Petersburg mayor
  4. Life after HB7069 to be discussed at Pinellas school district workshop

    Blogs

    The Pinellas County school district is still trying to navigate life after the controversial passage of HB7069.

  5. Sens. Darryl Rouson, D-St. Petersburg, and Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, were among the highest-ranking local lawmakers on the Florida Society of News Editors' "Sunshine Scoreboard."