What Took So Long to Capture Benghazi Mastermind?

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The U.S. government says it has finally captured the mastermind behind the deadly 2012 attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya, but many are now asking, what took them so long?

Ahmed Abu Khatallah, leader of an Islamist terror group in Libya, is now being held aboard a U.S. Navy ship in the Mediterranean. He had been sought by the United States for 21 months before U.S. Special Forces finally captured him.

"No matter how long it takes, we will find those responsible and we will bring them to justice," Obama said Tuesday.

And it took a long time to find a suspect who was described by CNN as "hiding in plain sight." Khatalla had done at least five news interviews with CNN and other news agencies before American leaders decided to finally move in and nab him.

"If a CNN reporter can interview with him openly in a cafe, why couldn't we get to him sooner?" Rep. Mike McCaul, R-Texas, said.

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby offered one excuse: "Terrorists go to great lengths to evade capture. It can be a complicated process trying to get at them."

But it wasn't complicated at all for reporters to get to Khatalla.

Another excuse put forward by the White House is that the capture was delayed after public outrage in Libya over a video of the takedown of another accused terrorist in Tripoli last October.

Republican leaders are not only concerned with how long it took this administration to capture Khatalla, but with what they'll do with him next.

"He needs to be interrogated extensively, and I hope that will occur," Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said. "There has been a tendancy in this administration to treat these as a law enforcement matter. I hope they're not doing that."

U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans were killed in the attack on the consulate in 2012. The Obama administration has also named about a dozen other suspects.

Judging by how long it took to apprehend Khattala, who walked freely through the streets of Libya, it could be a long time, if ever, before all of the other suspects are brought to justice.

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Dale Hurd

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A CBN News veteran, Dale Hurd has reported extensively from Western Europe, as well as China, Russia, and Central and South America.  Since 9/11, Dale has reported in depth on various aspects of the global war on terror in the United States and Europe.  Follow Dale on Twitter @HurdontheWeb and "like" him at Facebook.com/DaleHurdNews.