Dozens of suspects but no arrests in attack on Benghazi consulate
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BENGHAZI, Libya -- Two months after the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans were killed in assaults on U.S. facilities here, there have been no arrests of suspected attackers, and Libyan officials say it is unlikely any will be made anytime soon.
Libyan officials in Benghazi and in the country's capital, Tripoli, said the nation's police and court systems are so disorganized and powerless that there is virtually no investigation into the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. consulate that left Ambassador Christopher Stevens and State Department computer expert Sean Stevens dead.
Two CIA security contractors, former Navy SEALs Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods, died in a separate attack hours later, when the CIA station in this city came under attack.
Benghazi officials said the first problem with pursuing those responsible for the attacks is that police officers here are afraid to move against the Islamist extremist suspects, who, like many in this country, are members of militias that are better armed than state security forces.
And that is just the beginning. Officials say it's uncertain who is in charge of investigating the case and who has the authority to issue arrest warrants, should it come to that. Even if charges were to be brought, there is no proper court system for prosecuting anyone.
In Benghazi, the deputy interior minister said the prosecutor is in charge. The head of the Supreme Security Council, which has responsibility for organizing an army, believes that the police are in charge. The prosecutor said he has no idea who is in charge. Some brigades created during last year's uprising and used to filling the security void here don't recognize the Tripoli authorities as in charge of matters in Benghazi.
Last week, Libyan officials had to name a new prosecutor and judge and moved the case from Benghazi to Tripoli, reportedly because the Benghazi judge had no means to investigate the case.
The official described as the Libyan liaison to the FBI for the case said the investigation essentially is just beginning. "We are not at the point of arresting. We are correcting procedures," said Col. Abdel Salem Ashour of the Interior Ministry's criminal investigations department.
Col. Ashour said the Libyans are looking for roughly 70 people who were involved in the attack, but that images of the potential suspects captured by consulate security cameras and delivered to the Libyan government last week by the United States are blurry.
The description of the investigation Libyan officials give is far different from the pledge President Barack Obama made during an Oct. 16 presidential debate to "hunt down" the attackers.
First Published November 14, 2012 12:00 am