8 – 14 Nov: 2nd Benghazi Suspect Pleads Not Guilty in US Trial

Nov 14, 2017 | International actors

On 9 November, Mustafa al-Imam, a suspect in the September 2012 attack against the US Special Mission in Benghazi, who was captured from Misrata in October and transported to the US to stand trial, entered a plea of not guilty to terrorism-related charges in the US District Court. On 9 November, Imam was indicted on one count of conspiracy to provide material support and resources to terrorists resulting in death.

According to a motion for pre-trial detention, video surveillance shows Imam at the US compound in Benghazi on the night of the attack and indicates that he was involved in “exploiting sensitive material from the scene.” Imam’s lawyer argued that the evidence against his client was not as serious as the US government was claiming. He said it was based on a video that showed Imam leaving the US mission with some equipment which the authorities claimed were later used in the attack. Imam reportedly told investigators that he was close with Ahmed Abu Khatallah.

Khatallah was captured from Libya in 2014 and is currently on trial in the US for his role in the Benghazi attack. The trial began in early October and he has pleaded not guilty to all 18 of the charges against him. On 7 November, a paid Libyan informant gave evidence against Khatallah, implicating him in the 2012 attack. The informant was paid a $7 million reward for his work.

On 8 November Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi suggested ISIS fighters were entering Egypt through Libya in the wake of the groups defeat in Syria and Iraq. This was followed three days later by a statement from Egyptian military claiming it had destroyed 10 vehicles belonging to smugglers carrying weapons and ammunition at their western border with Libya.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor Fatou Bensouda told the UN Security Council (UNSC) on 8 November that the situation in Libya is dire. She highlighted incidents such as the recent discovery of a mass grave near Benghazi where bodies showed signs of torture, the ongoing LNA siege of Derna, and the appalling treatment of migrants in Libya, including evidence of slave markets. She plans to seek new arrest warrants if serious crimes don’t stop and demanded that those who are already wanted by the ICC, such as Saif al-Islam Qaddafi and Libyan National Army (LNA) commander Mahmoud al-Werfalli, to be turned over.