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Ed Royce: Keep Benghazi Suspect Out of Civilian Courts

By Cathy Burke   |   Tuesday, 17 Jun 2014 06:51 PM

The capture of Benghazi attack suspect Ahmed Abu Khattala raises troubling questions for an indecisive Obama administration  — including why it took so long to arrest the known terrorist and why he'll be tried in a civilian court, Rep. Ed Royce said Tuesday.

Royce, a California Republican who chairs the House Committee on Foreign Relations, told "The Steve Malzberg Show" on Newsmax TV that  the arrest of the senior leader in the Ansar al-Sharia terror group "is long overdue."

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"What's unclear is why the State Department waited 16 months to designate Ansar al-Sharia as a foreign terrorist organization," Royce said. "And what is also concerning is the fact that we would like to see a process here where we're getting as much intelligence from him as possible. If you're going to try him in a federal court, that obviously is going to hinder that very effort.

"If they're arguing that he is due the same due-process rights as American citizens, we're probably never going to find out what he knows," Royce added. "We hope the administration will share what it knows with the new select committee. There's got to be cooperation and transparency from the administration. … if you start with a process of making it unlikely that he's going to give up information, how are we going to go after all of the other terrorists who were involved in this attack and how are we going to get anything at all out of it?"

Royce called it "amazing" Khattala has had a series of interviews with media outlets since the deadly 2012 attack on the U.S. outpost.

"It's unclear why the president waited 19 months to authorize his capture, if that is indeed correct, because his location and involvement were not a secret," he said. "So that's another question that's been raised."

"There is a feeling that maybe those of us who were saying they should spend more time and effort focused on this were correct," the lawmaker said. "We would have designated that as a foreign terrorist organization right out of the gate and it just takes an enormous amount of time to get this administration's focus on anything."

Royce also charged that President Barack Obama has waffled on the issue of Iraq as well.

"For three months now the president's been pressed to make a strike, drone strikes, on this al-Qaida affiliate, and they had terrorist camps operating openly on Iraqi soil," Royce said. "The government itself over the last few weeks in Iraq has asked that these columns that were on the march be hit with drone strikes, and we didn't do it.

"Now they've got $450 million out of the central bank at Mosul. They're the richest terrorist organization on the planet because our executive branch did not take the request and declined it from Iraq."

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