President Barack Obama authorized Sunday's operation in which U.S.
special forces captured Ahmed Abu Khatallah in Libya for transfer to
the United States.
The action is very sensitive for the weak Libyan government which is
under pressure from various militias, Islamists and armed tribesmen
who helped topple Muammar Gaddafi in a NATO-backed uprising in 2011
but defy state authority in the vast desert country.
In the first official reaction from Tripoli, Justice Minister Saleh
al-Marghani said Khatallah should be returned to Libya and tried
"We had no prior notification," Marghani told a news conference. "We
expect the world to help us with security. We expected the United
States to help us, but we did not expect the United States to upset
the political scene."
He said Khatallah had been wanted by Libyan authorities for
questioning but they had been unable to arrest him due to the
Diplomats say Libya has done next to nothing to make arrests over
the 2012 consulate attack in which four Americans died, as the
government has little sway in Libya's second-largest city.
Libyan foreign ministry spokesman Said al Saoud said: "This attack
on Libyan sovereignty happened at a time when Benghazi is suffering
from many problems." He asked that Khatallah receive a fair trial.
The September 2012 assault on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, since
closed, killed four Americans including the U.S. ambassador to
Libya, Chris Stevens.
A similar U.S. special forces operation, grabbing al Qaeda suspect
Nazih al-Ragye, better known as Abu Anas al-Liby, in Tripoli in
October 2013 had drastic consequences for the government.
A militia briefly kidnapped the then prime minister, Ali Zeidan,
from his hotel suite, accusing him of having known about the
Al-Liby was later charged in a U.S. federal court in New York in
connection with the 1998 bombing of the U.S. embassy in Kenya, which
killed more than 200 people.
(Editing by Robin Pomeroy)
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