U.S. Will Not Seek Death Penalty for Accused Ringleader in Benghazi Attacks

The Justice Department announced Tuesday that it will not seek the death penalty against Ahmed Abu Khattala, 54, a U.S.-designated terrorist whom prosecutors accuse of leading the 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya, that killed four Americans.

The announcement, contained in a notice to the federal trial court in Washington, clears the way for a major terrorism trial in the nation’s capital, the first in the United States since 2015, barring a plea agreement by Abu Khattala.

The decision ended a lengthy review after President Obama aired concerns in October that while he supported capital punishment in theory, he found it “deeply troubling” in practice.

The move marked somewhat of a shift for the Justice Department, one year after federal prosecutors last May secured a death sentence in a capital terrorism case against Dzhokhar Tsarnaev for the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings.