June 27, 2018 / 6:34 PM / 2 years ago

Benghazi attack organizer gets 22-year sentence in U.S.

FILE PHOTO: The U.S. Consulate in Benghazi is seen in flames during a protest by an armed group said to have been protesting a film being produced in the United States September 11, 2012. REUTERS/Esam Al-Fetori

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Ahmed Abu Khatallah, the organizer of the deadly Sept. 11, 2012, attack on U.S. diplomatic compounds in Benghazi, Libya, was sentenced on Wednesday to 22 years in prison on terrorism and other charges, the Justice Department said.

Government evidence showed Khatallah led an extremist militia named Ubaydah bin Jarrah, which he directed to carry out the violence in Benghazi, the Justice Department said in a statement.

Khatallah, a Libyan, was convicted by a U.S. jury in November on four of the 18 counts he faced. He was acquitted on murder and other charges. U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans died in the attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi.

The U.S. government said Khatallah sought to incite violence in the months before the attack against the presence of the United States in Libya. He and other members of his group in September stockpiled truckloads of weaponry to mobilize for the attack, the Justice Department said.

Khatallah was the first person to be tried in connection with the attack in Benghazi.

He was first questioned by U.S. intelligence officials and later by the FBI. Khatallah waived his right to speak first with an attorney, and prosecutors used his statements in the trial.

He was convicted on one count of conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists, one count of providing material support to terrorists, one count of maliciously destroying property and one count of using and carrying a semiautomatic weapon during a violent crime, according to a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia.

Reporting by Doina Chiacu; Editing by Bill Trott and Frances Kerry

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