A Libyan man who was convicted in connection with the deadly 2012 attack on American diplomatic compound in Benghazi has been sentenced to more than 19 years in prison. Mustafa al-Imam, 47, was reportedly captured by United States special forces in Libya and brought to US for trial.
Last year, a jury also convicted him of conspiring to support extremist militia that launched the fiery assaults on US compounds and sentenced him to a total of 236 months behind the bars. According to international media reports, Mustafa was charged with conspiracy to provide material support and resources to terrorists and maliciously destroying and injuring a dwelling and placing lives in jeopardy.
The attack back in September 2012 killed US ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans. However, Mustafa was not convicted of murder as his attorneys claimed that he made a 'tremendous mistake' by just damaging and looting US property after the attacks and further insisted that there was no evidence that he intended to harm any Americans.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in a statement said tha Mustafa's sentencing “sends a strong message to those who would attempt to commit such a heinous crime”.
An assistant US attorney John Cummings wrote in a court filling, “In the current geopolitical environment, terrorists must understand that there are harsh consequences for attacking diplomatic posts and harming U.S. personnel — particularly a U.S. Ambassador”.
The federal prosecutors asked the US District Judge Christopher Cooper to send a message to other contemplating attacks on the American's overseas. They further said that t=Mustafa deserves a maximum 35-year sentence. They also argued that the 47-year-old had also entered the US compound and took sensitive material that identified the location of the CIA annexe about a mile away from the mission as the evacuation point for Department of State personnel.
Mustafa is the second militant to be convicted in the attacks of Benghazi. According to reports, the head of the Islamist militia who directed the siege, Ahmed Abu Khattala was also convicted back in 2017 on terrorism-related charges and was sentenced to 22 years in prison.
He was allegedly accused of driving to the diplomatic mission and breaching the main gate with militants who attacked with assault rifles, grenades and other weapons. Khattala was convicted of destroying US government property, discharging a firearm during a violent crime and two counts of providing support to a terror organisation.