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Libyan militant faces detention hearing

Published: Wednesday, July 2, 2014 9:43 a.m. CDT
(Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
US Marshals patrol the area outside federal court in Washington, Wednesday, July 2, 2014, where Libyan militant Ahmed Abu Khattala, charged in the deadly attack at the U.S. diplomatic outpost in Benghazi, is being held for a detention hearing. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

WASHINGTON – The Libyan militant now in U.S. custody in the Benghazi attacks faces a court appearance where federal prosecutors will argue why he should remain in detention.

The hearing for Ahmed Abu Khattala is before Magistrate Judge Deborah A. Robinson.

In court papers filed Tuesday night, the U.S. Attorney's office in Washington said Abu Khattala has continued to target Americans with deadly and destructive intentions.

The court papers described in general terms the case that prosecutors plan to bring against the defendant. The court filing says that after U.S personnel evacuated the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, Abu Khattala entered the compound and supervised the collection of material found at the scene. Abu Khattala then returned to a camp in Benghazi controlled by Ansar al-Shariah, where a large armed group began assembling for an attack on the mission's annex.

Abu Khattala, the court papers added, is a commander of Abu Obaida bin Jarrah Brigade, an extremist group that was absorbed into Ansar al-Sharia after the recent Libyan revolution. Ansar al-Sharia is an Islamic extremist militia in Libya that holds anti-Western views and advocates the establishment of Sharia law in Libya.

In the days that followed the attack, Abu Khattala attempted to obtain equipment, including weapons, to defend himself from anticipated U.S. retaliation, the government said.

In late 2013, according to the court filing, Abu Khattala expressed anger that the U.S. conducted a capture operation of a Libyan fugitive in Tripoli, and he targeted U.S. interests in the region for retaliation.

He also expressed concern that the U.S. might try to capture him in Libya and stepped up his personal security.

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