Abu Khattala Arraignment Confirms Effectiveness of U.S. Justice System

Washington, D.C. – Human Rights First today welcomes reports that Ahmed Abu Khattala, who is accused of involvement in the 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, will be arraigned in a U.S. federal court on terrorism-related charges. The organization notes that his arrest, conducted by the FBI and U.S. Special Forces, is emblematic of a whole-of-government effort by the U.S. government, which combined resources from the military, intelligence, and law enforcement communities to bring Abu Khattala to justice.

“Federal courts are the right venue for Abu Khattala to be tried for his attack on the U.S. consulate,” said Human Rigths First’s Michael Quigley. “They have a proven track record of success compared to the legally-questionable military commissions at Guantanamo Bay.”

Federal courts have completed nearly 500 cases related to international terrorism since 9/11.  Of those, 67 cases have involved individuals captured overseas, according to Department of Justice data obtained by Human Rights First in a Freedom of Information Act request.

Meanwhile, military commissions have convicted only eight individuals since 9/11.  Two of those convictions were recently overturned on appeal. This week, the continuing trial of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and the 9/11 conspirators has demonstrated once again the dysfunctional nature of the military commissions system.

“Abu Khattala is not an ‘enemy combatant,’ he is a criminal,” said Quigley. “In addition to being a bad idea, it would be legally impossible to send him to the flawed military commissions system at Guantanamo Bay.”


Published on June 17, 2014


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