U.S. investigators to get access to Benghazi suspect

WASHINGTON Sat Nov 3, 2012 3:27am EDT

A burnt car is parked at the U.S. consulate, which was attacked and set on fire by gunmen on September 11, in Benghazi September 12, 2012. REUTERS/Esam Al-Fetori

A burnt car is parked at the U.S. consulate, which was attacked and set on fire by gunmen on September 11, in Benghazi September 12, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Esam Al-Fetori

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Authorities in Tunisia have agreed to allow FBI investigators access to a detained Islamic militant suspected of playing a role in the September 11 attacks on U.S. diplomatic facilities in Benghazi, Libya, U.S. officials said on Friday.

Under an arrangement worked out between Tunisian and U.S. officials, American investigators will be allowed to interview Ali Ani al Harzi under the supervision of Tunisian officials.

The arrangement was first made public in a written statement issued on Friday by two Republican U.S. senators, Saxby Chambliss, vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, and Lindsey Graham, a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

The senators said that while it was "unfortunate" that it had taken some time for the agreement to be reached, "allowing American investigators in person access will make the interview more meaningful and is a welcome breakthrough in our efforts to find the perpetrators to the Benghazi ... attacks."

Earlier this week, Graham wrote to the Tunisian government advising them how important it was to him and other U.S. legislators for al Harzi to be made available to U.S. investigators. Meanwhile, Chambliss urged the FBI to seek access to al Harzi and any other individuals who might be detained in connection with the attacks.

A U.S. government source said it was possible that the senators' pressure may have helped convince the Tunisians to allow FBI investigators to interview al Harzi, who was initially arrested in Turkey in October but later sent back by Turkish authorities to his native Tunisia.

U.S. sources have said that al-Harzi is suspected of participating in the Benghazi attacks in which Christopher Stevens, the U.S. Ambassador to Libya, and three other U.S. officials were killed. His precise role in the attacks was unclear, the officials said, and there was no proof he was a leader in the attacks.

The Daily Beast news website reported on October 23 that shortly after the Benghazi attacks began, al Harzi posted an update about the fighting on an unspecified social media site. The Daily Beast said this was one of the first clues for U.S. intelligence agencies seeking to find out who was behind the violence.

(Reporting by Mark Hosenball; Editing by Martin Howell and Jackie Frank)

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Comments (4)
McBob08 wrote:
Enough of this farce! The attack on the Benghazi Consulate (NOT Embassy) was NOT a terrorist attack! Multiple reports on the ground clearly identify it as people rioting over a hateful anti-Mohammed video. It was NOT premeditated. It was NOT a plot. This person, whomever he is, has NOTHING to do with it. He has NO INFORMATION about the riot.

This is nothing but a masturbation fantasy for the extreme right-wing fringe! We should be concentrating on controlling the Christian Lunatic Fringe in America instead of going on a wild goose chase in the Middle East/Northern Africa.

Nov 02, 2012 9:59pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
rakeshdry wrote:
Thank you for your views on this Mr Obama. And thanks for keeping your State Department out of the investigation. No point in troubling them with trivialities such as questioning suspects. After a few more weeks all will be forgotten and we will welcome your apologies.

Nov 03, 2012 1:32am EDT  --  Report as abuse
borisjimbo wrote:
Not that whatever we learn from this suspect will influence the already made-up minds of all the dittoheads out there.

Nov 03, 2012 5:25am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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