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Lead suspect in Benghazi terror attack is hiding in plain sight

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Libyan civilians celebrate the raiding of Ansar al-Shariah Brigades compound, after hundreds of Libyans, Libyan Military, and Police raided the Brigades base, in Benghazi, Libya, Friday, Sept. 21, 2012. (Photo: AP)

Why is it that the New York Times can manage to track down a terrorist ringleader of the 9/11 attacks on our consulate in Benghazi, yet the United States government can't?

Witnesses and the authorities have called Ahmed Abu Khattala one of the ringleaders of the Sept. 11 attack on the American diplomatic mission here. But just days after President Obama reasserted his vow to bring those responsible to justice, Mr. Abu Khattala spent two leisurely hours on Thursday evening at a crowded luxury hotel, sipping a strawberry frappe on a patio and scoffing at the threats coming from the American and Libyan governments.

Libya’s fledgling national army is a “national chicken,” Mr. Abu Khattala said, using an Arabic rhyme. Asked who should take responsibility for apprehending the mission’s attackers, he smirked at the idea that the weak Libyan government could possibly do it. And he accused the leaders of the United States of “playing with the emotions of the American people” and “using the consulate attack just to gather votes for their elections.”

Mr. Abu Khattala’s defiance — no authority has even questioned him about the attack, he said, and he has no plans to go into hiding — offered insight into the shadowy landscape of the self-formed militias that have come to constitute the only source of social order in Libya since the fall of Col.Muammar el-Qaddafi.

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