One of the main suspects behind the assault on the US Temporary Mission Facility and CIA Annex in 2012, which left four Americans dead and several others seriously injured, was captured during a daylight raid on June 15th. Carried out by Delta Force operators and a contingent from the FBI’s Hostage Rescue Team, Ahmed Abu Khattala was snatched in a similar fashion to Al-Libi back in October. Interestingly, the Delta operators had eyes on Khattala at that time but for reasons unknown, the White House only authorized Delta to grab Al-Libi in October but delayed in capturing Khattala until now.
After the first planned operation to capture Khattala was canceled in October, the JSOC commandos lost track of their second target but reacquired him about six weeks ago. While it has gone largely unreported in the US media, this was right around the same time that a renegade ex-General named Khalifa Haftar launched a soft coup in Libya and began to take the fight to the Islamists. With the Libyan Air Force under his control, Haftar began ordering airstrikes against Ansar Al-Sharia targets, the same militia that led the attack which killed Chris Stevens, Glen Doherty, Ty Woods, and Sean Smith in 2012.
The intelligence used to successfully launch those airstrikes was funneled to Haftar by Western Intelligence agencies. The question remains to what extent Haftar then used that intelligence to eliminate his political rivals. In the grim game of survival in Libya, it is hard to say who is assassinating who, but certain tactics, techniques, and procedures do emerge and form a pattern over time. Killings of prominent Libyans as they are leaving their mosque and getting in their car seem to happen every couple days.
Despite official denials, Sunday’s capture of Khattala was conducted in a joint effort with the former Libyan General called “Operation Dignity.” Haftar’s airstrikes and raids in Benghazi on Sunday may very well have been the “Fix” portion of JSOC’s “Find, Fix, Finish” strategy. By launching simultaneous attacks in Benghazi, Khattala would have been forced to bunker down inside his compound, the military action serving to deny him freedom of movement. How many Islamists were killed during Sunday’s round of strikes and operations ranges from a dozen all the way up to 60 depending on which sources you believe.
By all indications, the operation was run professionally, taking a mere 30 minutes to execute from the time the Delta operators left their base to the time they captured Khattala and were on their way out of Libya. Not a shot was fired during the course of the mission.
Currently, Khattala is held prisoner on board a US warship heading for American soil and is being interrogated.