The so-called “mastermind” of the Benghazi terror attack that left four Americans dead including the American ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens, has been sentenced to 22 years in prison — a surprise for prosecutors who expected Ahmed Abu Khatallah to spend the rest of his life in jail.
Khatallah was found guilty on only four of 18 charges which included charges of murder for Stevens and operatives Sean Smith, Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty.
But while prosecutors “sought to portray Abu Khatallah as the ringleader of the Benghazi attacks and a ‘stone-cold terrorist,'” CNN reports, jurors thought differently and found him guilty on federal terrorism charges and “conspiracy to provide material support to terrorism” but little else.
Prosecutors still asked for life in prison for Khatallah but a Federal District Court judge said 22 years was adequate. Khatallah may not have known precisely what would happen when he encouraged terrorists to plot an attack on American interests in Libya, but he was aware that someone could be seriously injured.
“Even if you did not pour the gasoline or light the match, the evidence showed you were aware of the attack, and once the gates were breached, the likelihood someone would die was extreme high. This was not guilt by association,” the judge told Khatallah at his sentencing.
The attacks in Benghazi set off a political firestorm. Then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama blamed the attacks on a series of “anti-Islamic” videos posted on YouTube which set off a series of demonstrations in the Islamic world. Further investigation revealed, however, that the Obama Administration was well aware the attack was terror-related and not simply a protest gone out of control, but continued to stick to their talking points anyway.