Libya: Militia commander under investigation (+video)
American media reports have suggested Ahmed Abu Khattala was the leader of the September attacks that killed four, including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens. The investigation is ongoing.
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U.S. officials have said they believe militants used the protests as cover to carry out an armed assault on the U.S. diplomatic compound and a building that was supposed to be a safe house.
"The film which insulted the Prophet was a direct attack on our values and if America wants good relations with the Muslim world it needs to do so with respect," Abu Khattala said. "If they want to do it with force, they will be met with force."
He said that after he arrived at the consulate, he began to help direct traffic with other militia leaders.
"People were crashing into each other because of the chaos and there was sporadic shooting," he said.
Abu Khattala said he called the commanders of Benghazi's security forces -- the February 17 brigade and the Supreme Security Committee -- and told them to remove their cars and people from the consulate to avoid clashes.
"Soon after I made my calls, one of the guards told me that four men were detained in a building inside the compound who had been shooting at the demonstrators," he said.
"By the time I arrived at the building the men had already escaped. At that point I left the scene and didn't return."
Little is known about Abu Khattala, who hails from Benghazi.
Abu Khattala, who is unmarried, said he went to public schools in Libya but did not attend university or community college. He said he was imprisoned for a total of 10 years for "knowing suspected personalities". He refused to elaborate.
"I've also never left the country," he said when asked if he received any education or training abroad.
Abu Khattala said he formed the Obeidah al-Jarrah brigade at the beginning of the armed revolt which toppled Muammar Gaddafi last year.
The shadowy armed militia was blamed in the killing last July of military chief Abdelfattah Younes, a former Gaddafi loyalist who had defected to the rebels.
Younes was involved in the 1969 coup that brought Gaddafi to power. He was interior minister before he defected and took a senior position in the rebellion in February.
Some rebels, especially hard-line conservative Islamist fighters who were persecuted under Gaddafi, were never happy to serve under a man who had been so close to Gaddafi.
Abu Khattala was questioned by Libyan authorities but released because no evidence directly linked him to the killing. He said he later broke up his militia group.
"After the revolution Obeidah al-Jarrah was disbanded because we were a fighting group and the war was over in Benghazi," he said.
But many members of Obeidah al-Jarrah are known to have joined other brigades, including Ansar al-Shariah in Benghazi.
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