by Kerry Picket
Days before the fifth-year anniversary of the terrorist attack on the U.S. compound in Benghazi, Libya that killed U.S. ambassador Chris Stevens, a federal judge ruled that jurors at the trial of Libyan radical Islamist Ahmed Abu Khattala, charged with organizing the September 11, 2012 assault, cannot be told information that may prove he threatened to murder one of Stevens’s successor, Politico reported.
Khattala’s trial is expected to happen later this month in Washington, D.C. U.S. District Court Judge Christopher Cooper prevented prosecutors from showing evidence to jurors that proves Khattala communicated to an ally about murdering the other U.S. ambassador in retaliation for the U.S.’s capture of another Libyan Islamist in 2012, Abu Anas Al-Libi.
Other American casualties of the Benghazi attack include diplomat Sean Smith and CIA security contractors Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods.
Politico notes that although court filings do not name who the second ambassador is, it is likely U.S. Ambassador Deborah Jones, who succeeded Stevens and was confirmed to the Libya post in May 2013. until July 2014, when the embassy was eventually shut down.
Judge Cooper also prohibited prosecutors from showing evidence that Khattala ordered associates to assassinate an American teacher in Libya.
Khattala faces life in prison if convicted, however, Attorney General Loretta Lynch declared in 2016 that prosecutors would not seek the death penalty against Khattala.
“Since these acts appear to have occurred well after the attack and after the charged conspiracy ended they do little to illuminate the formation and contours of the conspiracy,” Cooper wrote in his order.