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Libyan sentenced 19 years in US for Benghazi attack

Friday January 24 2020

Marshals wait for Benghazi attacker Mustafa al-Imam

US Marshals accompany armoured vehicle waiting for Mustafa al-Imam during earlier hearing at US District Court. PHOTO | FILE | AFP 

AFP
By AFP
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Washington,

A 47-year-old Libyan man who was captured by US special forces in Libya and brought to the United States for trial was sentenced to prison on Thursday for his role in the 2012 attack on the US mission in Benghazi.

Mustafa al-Imam, who was convicted of terrorism charges and other offences in June 2019 after a six-week trial, was sentenced to 19 years and six months in prison by a US District Court judge.

US ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans died in the September 11, 2012 attack on the US mission in Benghazi and the CIA annex there.

"Each sacrificed his life promoting American ideals," Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement, adding that Al-Imam's sentencing "sends a strong message to those who would attempt to commit such a heinous crime."

JUSTICE

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Imam was captured by US troops in Libya in October 2017 and brought to the United States.

"Imam played an important role in the terrorist attack that destroyed the US mission and the CIA annex in Benghazi," US attorney Jessie Liu said in a statement.

"Today's sentencing is a reminder that the safety of Americans -- whether at home or abroad, civilian or otherwise -- will always be our top priority," Liu said.

"If you commit an act of terrorism, we will find you and bring you to justice."

ANOTHER LIBYAN

According to prosecutors, Imam was in contact during the attack on the US mission with Ahmed Abu Khattala, another Libyan national who was captured by US troops in 2014 and also brought to the United States.

Khattala was sentenced to 22 years in prison in June 2018 for his role in the Benghazi attack.

The death of Stevens stunned Americans and became the focus of a politically charged investigation by congressional Republicans of then-secretary of state Hillary Clinton, who was accused of not doing enough to protect the diplomats.

Clinton was never convincingly tagged with wrongdoing or negligence, but the issue haunted her failed 2016 presidential campaign.