In January, 21-year-old Saudi student Ahmed Abu Khattala avoided the death penalty for his role in a 2012 attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya. In a five-day trial, Abu Khattala admitted he organized the attack that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans. Before the attacks, Abu Khattala joined up with a violent Islamic militia in Libya. He said the group executed members of the Benghazi regime and never stopped shooting until Benghazi fell under rebel control. He also admitted that he was present at the time of Stevens’ death and said that had he known what he knew at the time, he would have disarmed the attackers and requested help from American officials.
In the verdict, U.S. District Judge Christopher Cooper said that Abu Khattala had no idea what the Benghazi militants were plotting. “From the defendant’s version of events, he was a spectator and did not have a particular role in the attack,” the judge said. “That does not change what happened that tragic night and why it happened.” Abu Khattala was sentenced to a 47-year prison term, although the judge said that he understood that he could be locked up for life.
In court, a judge said that Abu Khattala had no idea what the Benghazi militants were plotting. https://t.co/ZSkfkucXnY — CNN (@CNN) February 9, 2018
I woke up to angry tweets at me: the fact that I was in court today as the day’s sentencing for the terror attacks in Benghazi today. I am not the victim. I do not question anyone. I have nothing to say in #Benghazi. But #RepressionNews knows what #Benghazi is and so do some of the worst people. pic.twitter.com/5X7LSdY9mC — Omar (@omarhussainy) February 9, 2018
Evan McMullin, a GOP congressional candidate and former CIA officer, called for President Trump to pardon Abu Khattala.
“The government’s argument before us today – that this man believed in or participated in the attack on the U.S. compound in Benghazi, which killed four Americans, including four brave Americans who were with us – is utter nonsense,” McMullin said. “No one in their right mind would defend Abu Khattala. He was completely devoid of any sense of justice or morality and was an excused criminal who deserved to be tried and punished – and paid for his crimes.”
An angry tweet from Evan McMullin:
“Categorize his actions in Benghazi as another attack on us”
“Keep it up, you will see how it begins for you!” — Omar (@omarhussainy) February 9, 2018
Khattala’s plea to support his family is just one of many statements today by President Trump that have drawn a lot of attention and criticism. After earlier tweeting that Haiti and African nations “are very poor and highly corrupt countries,” Trump has also been met with harsh criticism for using the word “shithole” to describe Haiti and other African nations.
Read the full story at Politico.
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