After Libyan raid, what about Benghazi suspects?

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The capture by U.S. special forces of an al-Qaeda leader in the Libyan capital of Tripoli has some wondering why none of the Benghazi terrorists have been grabbed.
Republican congressman Jason Chaffetz of Utah said Monday he has seen little sign the Obama administration is chasing down the leaders behind the killing of a U.S. ambassador and three other Americans a little over year ago.
But some analysts say there are differences between the two targets.
Juan Zarate, a former senior White House anti-terrorism official under former-President George W. Bush, says Tripoli is a relatively safe city where the government is more friendly toward the United States.
Benghazi, east of Tripoli, is teeming with radical militias that have launched multiple attacks on government and foreign targets, he said.
"Benghazi is less secure," Zarate said.
The U.S. military conducted two raids for terror suspects over the weekend. The Navy Seals carried out a raid in Somalia, which did not appear to net its target. Army's Delta Force pulled off the raid in Tripoli, capturing Nazih Abdul-Hamed al-Ruqai.
Also known by his alias Anas al-Libi, he is on the FBI's most-wanted list to his role in the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and Nairobi, Kenya. The terror attacks killed more than 220 people, including 12 Americans.
Chaffetz, who has been critical of the administration's failure to capture the Benghazi terrorists, said the al-Libi was "great."
"But let's not forget the Benghazi terrorist attackers," said Chaffetz, who sits on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. "There's been no visibility on whether or not we're pursuing that."
Caitlin Hayden, spokeswoman for the National Security Council, said the operation to capture al-Libi was the result of "years of diligent intelligence work and months of operational planning."
Hayden said the Benghazi suspects are still in the USA's sights.
Ambassador Chris Stevens was among those killed in the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi. U.S. officials have blamed the attack on terrorists with links to al-Qaeda.
Several suspects have been indicted, including Ahmed Khattala, a commander in the Ansar al-Sharia militia. And Khattala has given several interviews to the news media in Benghazi, including an interview with CNN that took place in the coffee shop of a Benghazi hotel.
"There is no doubt the success of the operation (in Tripoli) would raise the question in the United States and in Libya about whether another operation like this could and might well be carried out in Benghazi," Zarate said.
But Zarate said given a choice between the two terrorists, the administration may have thought it best to go after al-Libi. He said al-Libi is considered a major terrorist catch, believed responsible for setting up al-Qaeda's network in Libya.
"Al-Libi was a long-standing core al-Qaeda member," who may have current information on al-Qaeda's operations in Libya," Zarate said.
According to the indictment, al-Libi took photographs for al-Qaeda in 1993 of the embassy in Nairobi, Kenya, and in 1994 reviewed files describing potential U.S., French, British and Israeli targets in that city.
In a speech in May before the National Defense University, he said in relations to drone strikes that his preference is to detain, interrogate, and prosecute terrorists because raids are too risky to become the norm.
Ground raids result in "more U.S. deaths, more Black Hawks down, more confrontations with local populations, and an inevitable mission creep in support of such raids that could easily escalate into new wars," Obama said.
A special forces raid risks not only American troops and foreign civilians, but also an unintended fight with local militias with whom the USA has no conflict, and unintentionally creating "an international crisis,' Obama said.
Relatives of al-Libi told reporters that he was abducted on his way home from Saturday prayers. Gunmen jumped from three cars, smashed the window of his car and pulled him out, according to the Emirati paper The National.
Al-Libi has lived in the United Kingdom, according to the FBI, and returned to his hometown of Tripoli in 2011, where he's been living openly, according to CNN. Al-Libi was most likely involved in al-Qaeda strategic planning and coordination with local Libyan Islamist militias, according to the Congressional Research Service.
Libya has a central government but it does not control all aspects of the country. Militant groups control many activities in major cities like Sirte and Benghazi. It has not been made public whether the government in Tripoli acquiesced to al-Libi raid in advance.
On Monday, the Tripoli government demanded an explanation from the United States for what it called "the kidnap of one of the Libyan citizens," according to an official statement.
Hayden said U.S. officials "consult regularly with the Libyan government on a range of security and counterterrorism issues," but that she would not "get into the specifics of our communications."
Thomas Joscelyn, a terrorism researcher at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, says the Obama administration grab Benghazi suspects so that they can be pressed for information about others who were involved in the Sept. 11 attack. Zarate said the question is when to take such an ultimate step.
"It is dangerous and extreme and can't be done over and over at least in the same environment," he said. "When would it bring in as many people as possible for all the diplomatic and political risk."
Hayden said "bringing to justice" the Benghazi killers is something the administration pursues "every day."
"As the capture of al Libi demonstrates, it can take time."
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