The capture of the suspected leader of the Benghazi attacks has prompted questions about how the suspect managed to evade U.S. authorities for nearly two years given that he was interviewed by numerous media outlets in the months following the attacks.
The New York Daily News reports American special forces captured Ahmed Abu Khattala in Libya on Sunday. Khattala is a leader of the Muslim terror group Ansar al-Shariah. The group is suspected of organizing the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya that killed four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens.
Khattala was charged last summer, by U.S. authorities, for the crime of organizing the assault but American forces have not been able to capture him until now. Many point out that the reason for the delay could not be that he was simply hard to find.
Since the attacks, Khattala has agreed to interviews with CNN, The New York Times, Reuters, Fox News and many others.
An October 2012 article in the The New York Times portrays Khattala unconcerned by the fact that authorities might be looking for him. The interview at the center of the article certainly was not conducted with any semblance of secrecy. The article says Khattala spent “two leisurely hours on Thursday evening at a crowded luxury hotel, sipping a strawberry frappe on a patio and scoffing at the threats coming from the American and Libyan governments” as the reporter asked him questions.
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby fended off questions Tuesday about the delay involved with Khattala’s capture.
"Terrorists go to great lengths to evade capture," Kirby told reporters, according to the Huffington Post. "It can be a complicated process trying to get at them.”
But Khattala, whose terrorist group was suspected almost immediately in connection with the attacks, was conducting interviews out in the open just weeks after the Benghazi assault.
"These reports say that no one knows where I am and that I am hiding," Khattala told reporters in October 2012. "But here I am in the open, sitting in a hotel with you. I'm even going to pick up my sister's kids from school soon.”
Kirby, though, insisted Tuesday that timing was not the issue.
"What matters is not that it took a matter of time to get him," Kirby added, "but we got him.”