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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 September 2018

Suspect in Libyan embassy attack appears before US judge

First court appearance for man captured in Libya by US commandos last week

The US embassy in Benghazi, Libya burns during an attack on September 11, 2012. Esam Al Fetori / Reuters
The US embassy in Benghazi, Libya burns during an attack on September 11, 2012. Esam Al Fetori / Reuters

A Libyan accused of involvement in the 2012 attack on the US diplomatic complex in Benghazi that killed four Americans, including the US ambassador, appeared before a federal judge in Washington on Friday.

Mustafa Al Imam, who authorities said is approximately 46 years old, was captured in Libya last Sunday by American commandos.

Dressed in an orange prison suit, he was officially informed of the charges against him through a translator. They include killing a person during an attack on a federal facility using a firearm, providing material support to terrorists resulting in death, and use of a firearm in connection with a violent crime.

The first two counts carry life sentences.

No details of Mr Al Imam's capture were provided.

According to the prosecution he was in a group of about 20 armed men who entered the diplomatic complex in Benghazi on September 11, 2012 and set fire to a building occupied by US ambassador Chris Stevens.

The ambassador and Sean Smith, a state department technician, died of smoke inhalation.

The group later fired mortar rounds at a building used by the CIA, killing Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods, two former Navy Seals working as contractors.

Assistant US attorney Opher Shweiki opposed granting bail to Mr Al Imam, citing a "serious risk of flight".

"He has no ties in the US; he poses a serious danger," Mr Shweiki said. "There is no condition ensuring the defendant will appear in court."

The judge, Deborah Robinson, ordered that Mr Al Imam remain in custody until another hearing on Thursday.

An alleged mastermind of the attack, Ahmed Abu Khattala, 46, is already on trial in the United States, accused of being a commander of the Ansar Al Sharia militia.

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