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A decade later and the terrorist attacked on a U.S. Embssy and CIA compound in Benghazi, Libya is still making headlines. The attack left four Americas dead, including then-U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens.
On Tuesday, a federal appeals court ruled that a lower federal court’s sentence of a terrorist actor who took part in the attack in Benghazi was too low. They said it was well below established sentencing guidelines for similar federal crimes.
Ahmed Abu Khatallah, 51, was originally convicted in 2018 on several counts for his involvement in the Sept. 11, 2012 attack on U.S. intelligence and diplomatic facilities in Benghazi, Libya.
Fox News reported:
The 22-year sentence for a Libyan militant convicted of four terrorism charges for his involvement in the 2012 Benghazi attack is “unreasonably low,” a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday.
Ahmed Abu Khatallah, 51, was convicted of four counts in 2017, including providing material support to terrorists and destroying US property, but was acquitted on the most serious charges.
Sentencing guidelines said that Khatallah should have been sentenced to 30 years to life in prison, according to prosecutors.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled on Tuesday that 22 years in prison is nowhere long enough for Khatallah “given the gravity of such an assault on an American diplomatic facility and the district court’s own recognition of the vital need to deter such crimes.”
“In sentencing Khatallah to just twelve years for the two support-of-terrorism counts and the property destruction count, the district court did not—and could not on this record—sufficiently justify its additional variance so far below the sentencing range that would have been appropriate even without any consideration of acquitted conduct,” the three-judge panel noted in the ruling.
Attorneys for the convicted terrorist filed a motion for a mistrial before and also after his initial verdict. They appealed his sentence in 2020, but federal prosecutors then cross-appealed.
Following the appeals court decision, Khatallah’s case has been remanded back to the lower federal courts for resentencing.
Following the attack in Benghazi, Obama’s administration was highly criticized for their irresponsible inaction despite warnings and signs of an attack.
Hillary Clinton was singled out because as the then Secretary of State, she sent no security even though Amabssador Stevens has requested for increased security on a number of occasions.
GOP controlled Congress at the time he they launched an investigation into the attack. The committee released an 800-page report in June 2016.
According to Politico, “the report drilled down on new details about how Clinton’s State Department failed to protect the diplomatic outpost in Libya. The report also said that the CIA missed the looming threat despite warnings and wrote faulty intelligence reports after the attack. And GOP staff said their findings indicate that the Defense Department did not meet its response times to deploy military assets to Benghazi and follow-up to ensure Americans were rescued in a timely fashion.”
“The report includes new specifics about a U.S. teleconference convened by White House chief of staff Denis McDonough during the attack. According to the report, some participants on the videoconference were unsure about what each agency was doing to rescue Americans,” Politico continued. “State Department officials on the call also brought up concerns about whether Marines who might have been deployed to Benghazi were wearing uniforms, the report found — something officials previously said could hurt diplomacy in the region. One commander told the committee he and his men over the course of three hours kept having to change from uniforms to civilian clothes.”
Obama never ended up deploying the miliarty to Benghazi.