Ahmed Abu Khattala, the terrorist responsible for the 2012 Benghazi attack which took the lives of four Americans, is seeing his day in court.
Khattala has maintained that “he was only a bystander” when the attack happened. He has been awaiting trial since 2014.
Federal prosecutor John Crabb said, during his opening statement to the U.S. District court, that Khatallah hates the United States “with a vengeance” and did, indeed, play a leading role in organizing the attack.
Crabb further commented that he [Khatallah] “didn’t light the fires and he didn’t fire the mortars but you will hear he is just as guilty as the men who lit those fires.” Khatallah’s charges include murder as well as providing material support to the attacks.
Jeffrey Robinson, for the defense, is painting a different picture all together in the hopes of proving his client’s innocence.
The evidence is going to show that Mr. Abu Khatallah did not participate in the attack,” he said.
Monday’s first part included testimony from Special Agent Scott Wickland. He describes how he attempted to get both Ambassador Chris Stevens as well as Statement Department employee Sean Smith to safety going into detail on how they crawled through the black smoke.
“At first I had my hand on the ambassador and we were crawling,” he stated.
“I was breathing through the last centimeter of air on the ground… and I am yelling to the other guys, ‘Come on! We can make it!”
“And within that 8 meters, they disappeared.”
One witness told jurors that he has heard the defendant say he “would have killed all of the Americans that night.” The witness in question was also used to lure Khatallah to capture, being paid $7 million for his assistance.
Abu Khattala, sporting a long grayish-white beard, appeared in court wearing a white shirt and dark pants. He has pleaded not guilty to his charges, including murder of an internationally protected person, providing material support to terrorists and destroying U.S. property while causing death. When he entered the courtroom, he shook hands with members of his legal team. He monitored his trial with earphones offering him an Arabic interpreter. At times, he sipped water or swiveled in his chair at the defense table.