The capture of Ahmed Abu Khattala, by far the most notorious suspect in the 2012 attacks on the U.S. diplomatic mission and a CIA compound in Benghazi, Libya, is a big deal. But even if he is guilty, Abu Khattala wouldn't have been the only person involved in the attacks — and he is not the only person sought by U.S. authorities on suspicion of involvement.
Reports from the time suggest that about 150 gunmen began the attack on the diplomat outpost. In 2013, the FBI released images of 24 men it said "were on the grounds of the U.S. Special Mission when it was attacked." The Post has also learned that at least a dozen others have been charged in sealed criminal complaints in connection with the attacks.
Who might they be? Only a handful of other names have been publicly linked to the attack over the past few years. Here they are:
Mohammed Ali al-Zahawi
Zahawi is the leader of Ansar al-Sharia, an Islamist militia based in Benghazi that was officially designated a "terrorist organization" in January for its alleged role in the attacks. Abu Khattala is thought to have links to the organization, though his precise role isn't clear. In an interview with Foreign Policy, Zahawi denied any involvement in the attack on the U.S. diplomatic post and said he does not have any ties to Abu Sufian bin Qumu's similarly named group in the city of Darnah. In an interview in July 2012, before the assault, Zahawi told The Post that he disavowed attacks on Western diplomats that had been taking place at the time, adding: "If it had been our attack on the U.S. Consulate, we would have flattened it.”
Abu Sufian bin Qumu
Bin Qumu was the leader of Ansar al-Sharia in Darnah at the time of the attacks, and U.S. officials suspect that militiamen under his control took part. He was born in Libya and spent 10 years in the country's jails before fleeing to Egypt and then Afghanistan. According to U.S. military files released by WikiLeaks, bin Qumu trained in 1993 at a terrorism camp run by Osama bin Laden. He fought alongside the Taliban against U.S. forces in Afghanistan and later fled to Pakistan, where he was apprehended and turned over to U.S. authorities. Bin Qumu was held in the Guantanamo Bay prison until 2007, when he was sent to Libya. Libyan authorities released him in 2008.
Tunisian national Harzi and another man, who was not identified, were detained in Turkey in October 2012 because of their alleged involvement in the Benghazi attacks. Harzi was reportedly considered a suspect because of his social media posts in the aftermath. Harzi was sent back to Tunisia but released a few months later because of what his attorney described as a lack of evidence. He was later reported to be wanted in connection with the assassination of two opposition politicians in Tunisia.
In 2013, Shibli was reportedly detained by Libyan authorities for his alleged role in the attacks. CNN reported at the time that FBI officers were allowed to question the man. U.S. officials told The Post this year that he may have since fled the country and that they would like to question him.