Trump: Benghazi attack leader Mustafa al-Imam captured ‘upon my orders’
President Donald J. Trump gave a statement from the White House Tuesday regarding the capture of Mustafa al-Imam, accused of leading the Sept. 11, 2011 attacks on American personnel and facilities in Benghazi, Libya
“Yesterday, on my orders, United States forces captured Mustafa al-Imam in Libya,” the president said.
Trump said that because of this operation, al-Imam would face justice for the deaths of Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, State Department communications and IT specialist Sean Smith and Navy SEAL veterans Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods.
Stevens and Smith were killed in the first of four attacks that stretched out more than eight hours. Doherty, who traveled from Tripoli with an ad hoc relief team, was killed with Woods in the final attack when a single mortar struck their rooftop position.
During the attacks, not a single military personnel, nor asset was deployed to support or rescue the more than 20 U.S. diplomatic and intelligence staffers stationed at the Benghazi facilities, save for a single observer drone, which gave the White House and military command centers live-feeds of the attacks.
In the end, a militia affiliated with the regime of Muammar Gaddafi, whom President Barack Obama has toppled months before, came to the aid of the Americans and secured their passage from their fallback position at the second of two compounds to the airport.
While these attacks raged, there was at least one Navy ship off the coast of Libya with a Marine contingent that did not deploy. A Marine Fleet Antiterrorism Security Team at Rota, Spain boarded a plane, but the plane was never cleared to take off. In Croatia, 150 Special Forces soldiers, there for an annual training exercise, were readied to deploy for the four-hour flight to Benghazi, but military officials ordered the C-130 pilots to take their mandatory rest upon their landing in Croatia, thus the Green Berets stood down.
Trump said he had a special message for the families of the four men killed.
“To the families of these fallen heroes: I want you to know that your loved ones are not forgotten, and they will never be forgotten,” he said. “Our memory is deep and our reach is long, and we will not rest in our efforts to find and bring the perpetrators of the heinous attacks in Benghazi to justice.”
Trump also thanked the men and women from law enforcement, prosecutors, the intelligence community and military for efforts in gathering evidence, interviewing witnesses, and tracking down fugitives associated with the attack, capturing them, and delivering them to the United States for prosecution.
In a statement released Monday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the wounds of Benghazi are still healing.
“The Department of State family continues to mourn the loss of Ambassador Chris Stevens, Glen Doherty, Sean Smith, and Tyrone Woods, and we will spare no effort to ensure that justice is served for these dedicated Americans and public servants. I spoke with some of their family members to underscore the U.S. government’s unwavering support,” he said.