Update 12:36 pm:
One of the suspected ringleaders of the terrorist attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi was captured by U.S. Special Operations forces in a secret weekend raid in Libya, the Pentagon announced Tuesday.
The suspect, who is being held in a secure location outside Libya, was identified as Ahmed Abu Khattala, a senior leader of the Benghazi branch of the terror group Ansar al-Sharia in Libya.
The operation marks the first apprehension of a suspected leader of the attack on Sept. 11, 2012, that claimed the lives of U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.
There were no civilian casualties related to this operation and all U.S. personnel involved have safely departed Libya, Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Admiral John Kirby said in a statement.
Officials said Khattala will be tried in U.S. court, the Associated Press reports. Last year, the U.S. filed charges against Khattala and a number of others in a sealed complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Washington.
In an interview last August with the Associated Press after the charges were filed, Khattala denied any involvement in the attack.
"I am a Libyan citizen and the American government has nothing to do with me," he said in a telephone interview then with the AP. "I am in my city, having a normal life and have no troubles and if they have an inquiry to make, they should get in touch with Libyan authorities."
The operation was first reported Tuesday by Fox News and The Washington Post.
U.S. officials tell the Post that Khattala was captured near Benghazi by American troops, working alongside the FBI, following months of planning.
Khattala has operated freely in Benghazi in the months following the attack, and has even given lengthy interviews with foreign journalists, including a reporter for The New York Times.
In a leisurely, two-hour interview with New York Times reporter David D. Kirkpatrick in October, 2012, barely a month after the attack, Khattala denied he was a member of al-Qaeda but said he admired the group's puritanical zeal for Islamic law.
Khattla, then 41, said he was not part of the aggression at the U.S. compound on the night of the attack and said he did not intend to go into hiding.
Although witnesses told Times that Khattala was direct other fighters that night, he told the newspaper that he arrived just as gunfire was beginning to crackle. Libyan officials also singled him out for his role in the ordeal.
Khattala also claimed that the attack on the U.S. compound grew out of a peaceful protest against a video made in the U.S. that mocked the Prophet Muhammad and Islam. He also said that guards inside the compound shot first at demonstrators
In December, The Washington Postreported that attempts to capture Khattala, as well as about a dozen other people who have been secretly charged in the attack, had stalled.
The Post said Tuesday that it learned about the capture Monday but agreed to a request from the White House to delay publication of a story because of security concerns.
(AP) WASHINGTON — The Pentagon says a Libyan militant accused in a deadly attack on Americans in Benghazi, Libya, is in U.S. custody.
The capture of Ahmed Abu Khattala marks the first time the U.S has apprehended one of the accused perpetrators in the 2012 attack. Khattala is a senior leader of the Benghazi branch of the terrorist group Ansar alt-Sharia.
His capture was first reported by the Washington Post.