WASHINGTON — Prosecutors on Thursday urged jurors to convict the “on-scene commander” of the 2012 attacks on U.S. compounds in Benghazi, Libya, that killed four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens.
In closing arguments, Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael C. DiLorenzo described Ahmed Abu Khattala as a terrorist bent on killing as many Americans as he could.
“He viewed the United States, which promoted freedom, as the cause of all the world’s problems,” DiLorenzo said.
Khattala is charged with crimes including murder of an internationally protected person, providing material support to terrorists and destroying U.S. property while causing death. The case became political fodder, with Republicans accusing President Barack Obama’s administration of intentionally misleading the public and stonewalling congressional investigators, though officials denied any wrongdoing. Some in Congress were particularly critical of then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s handling of the conflict.
But the trial, which began Oct. 2, has been mostly free of political intrigue.
Khattala’s attorneys have tried to depict him as a “Libyan patriot” who believed there was a protest at the compound and wanted to see what was happening.
But DiLorenzo, who showed footage of Khattala strolling around with an assault rifle, called him the “on-scene commander” of the carnage who had been planning the Sept. 11, 2012, attack for at least a year.