DC Judge Orders Terror Suspect Held

WASHINGTON, DC (WUSA9) -- Benghazi terror suspect Ahmed Abu Khattala will stay locked up in the Alexandria jail.

That's the decision of a DC judge after a brief high-security hearing today at federal court downtown.

Lawyers for the man suspected in the deaths of the American ambassador and three others say they may yet try and get him released.

A phalanx of heavily armed US Marshals stood guard as the suspected senior commander of a Libyan terrorist militia barreled back to jail on the usually peaceful streets outside federal court.

Prosecutors told the judge Khattala led a group of more than 20 armed militiamen who stormed two American diplomatic compounds in Libya,

Khattala listened intently... stared out across the courtroom... and straight into the visitors gallery.

His lawyers conceded his continued detention is appropriate for now.

Khattala was snatched last month by U-S Special Forces in Libya. Al Jezeera correspondent Nasser Hssaini says Arab public opinion is split 50/50 on his capture and trial. "There are those who think its piracy, its not something a country like the United States should do. But some other people think they have every right to do it, if it proves it's a terrorist network, a terrorist guy."

Khattala's federal public defender complained to the judge here that she had to put together her arguments based on media reports. Michelle Peterson said prosecutors have failed to offer her any discovery. But she said from what she can tell, the case against him is weak... and that there is an utter lack of evidence Khattala took part in the deadly attack in Benghazi.

A grand jury indicted Khattala on a charge of conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists. That charge could get him life in prison. But federal officials say even more serious charges could be coming.


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