Middle East

Libyan suspect in U.S. envoy attack killed in Cairo raid

FILE - A protester reacts as the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi is seen in flames during a protest by an armed group said to have been protesting a film being produced in the United States. (REUTERS/Esam Al-Fetori)

CAIRO/TUNIS: A Libyan militant suspected by Egypt of involvement in last month’s attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya has been killed during a raid by Egyptian security forces in Cairo, a security official said Thursday.

The Libyan militant was killed Wednesday in a raid targeting him and other militants with suspected links to Al-Qaeda in Cairo’s eastern district of Nasr City, the official said.

Four Egyptian militants were detained in the operation, he added.

The Libyan, identified as Karim Ahmad Essam al-Azizi, was killed by a bomb he had tried to use against the security forces during the raid, the security official said.

It was not immediately clear what role Azizi had played in the assault on the U.S. consulate in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi on Sept. 11, in which the ambassador, Chris Stevens, and three other Americans were killed.

The security official, who asked not to be named, said Azizi had been living in a rented apartment for the past three months. He said police had found 15 bombs and various weapons, including assault rifles, in the Libyan’s flat.

Separately a Tunis judge has charged a Tunisian man arrested in Turkey for being part of a terror cell, his lawyer said Thursday, amid reports he was linked to the consulate attack.

“The investigating magistrate charged him with membership in a terrorist group based abroad,” defense attorney Anouar Ouled Ali told AFP.

He refused to give further details, saying only that his client, Ali Hamzi, was arrested in Turkey and deported to Tunisia on Oct. 11, a month after the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi.

The lawyer denied U.S. media reports that Hamzi was involved in the Benghazi attack. “He is not linked to this affair,” he said.

Officials from the Interior and Justice Ministry confirmed that Hamzi was deported from Turkey and was being detained in Tunisia but also declined to give further details.

The attack on the Benghazi consulate has become a highly politicized issue in the U.S. presidential election campaign.

It occurred during a wave of Muslim protests over an anti-Islam film produced in California, which also sparked violence against U.S. diplomatic missions in Tunisia and Egypt.

However, official emails obtained by Reuters showed that the White House and State Department were advised two hours after the consulate attack that an Islamist militant group had claimed responsibility.

President Barack Obama and other U.S. officials have acknowledged that the attack was a “terrorist” act by militants with suspected links to Al-Qaeda affiliates or sympathizers.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on October 26, 2012, on page 9.




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