Adam Betcher/Maximum Defense/Screenshot/Q13Fox
On Tuesday, it was announced that Ahmed Abu Khatallah — a key figure in the 2012 Benghazi attacks — was acquitted of 14 of the 18 charges against him.
While the counts of terrorism still stuck, the most severe charge he faced, murder, did not.
According to NBC News:
Prosecutors said Khatallah was among 20 people who stormed the U.S. mission with machine guns and grenade launchers, set it on fire and later attacked an annex, killing Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans — Glen Doherty, Sean Smith, and Tyrone Woods.
But in a big setback to prosecutors, the jury found Khatallah not guilty on charges that his actions led to the deaths of the Americans.
Instead, Khatallah was found guilty of discharging a firearm to cause violence and destruction of property.
In recent years, Benghazi has been one of the most significant national security topics. It gained further attention after operators at the CIA Annex came forward and said they were told to “stand down” when the consulate was being attacked. One of those operators, Kris Paronto, spoke to Independent Journal Review about the development in Khatallah's case.
"First of all, let's clear something up: Khatallah is being called the mastermind. He was part of the operation, yes. But to call him a mastermind, I don't agree with that. He wasn't the guy. I wouldn't compare him to Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and 9/11 like some have done.
The thing that bothers me about Khatallah is that he was a commander in the Martyrs of 17 February Brigade, a terrorist organization. The 17th Feb was supposed to help us and protect the consulate and were not vetted well enough. I told them they had a jihadist group there at the compound.
So Khatallah has ties to the group behind the attack — Ansar Al-Sharia — and we are still playing nice. What do they think? Are those terrorists going to see this news and be quaking in their boots? No, they're going to laugh that we are trying them in a criminal court. He's an enemy combatant. It's sickening."
Then Paronto turned up the heat on the people who made Khatallah's extraction to the U.S. possible in the first place.
“It's a political charade of the Obama administration,” he said. "We went and grabbed this guy. There are only two options when dealing with terrorists. Number one, you grab them, interrogate them until you get all the intelligence you can and then throw them in GITMO. Number two, you put them to death.
“I refused to testify because of how political this all was,” Paronto said. “I told them, 'If you want me to testify, you're going to have to subpoena me.'”
He discussed the issue of giving due process to terrorists.
“Ambassador Stevens didn't get due process when he was burning alive and dying of smoke inhalation,” Paronto remarked. "You do not let terrorists face a criminal court. You let the CIA or the military handle the issue. Interrogate, interrogate, interrogate. And you let the others face a firing squad.
“This is a circus show for politicians. It is purely political. My recommendation to the extraction teams that go and get these targets in the future, the ones who would never give you a fair trial or any degree of humanity, don't bring them back at all. Instead, put a bullet in their head.”