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Accused Leader of Attack on U.S. Consulate in Benghazi Pleads Not Guilty

by Pete Williams /

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Ahmed Abu Khatallah, the only person to be charged in connection with deadly 2012 attacks on U.S. diplomatic facilities in Benghazi, Libya, pleaded not guilty Monday to 17 new charges, including some that could result in the death penalty.

Khatallah, 43, a leader of the Ansar al-Sharia militia, said nothing during the brief court appearance, listening to the proceedings through an interpreter. His lawyer entered a plea of not guilty to the new charges filed last week that accuse him of leading an extremist militia and helping to plan the Sept. 11, 2012, attacks that killed four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens, and injured three others.

Khatallah was captured in June in a raid by U.S. special operations forces.

Court documents said that when the attacks were over, Khatallah entered the diplomatic mission compound and "supervised the plunder of material," including documents, maps, and computer files containing sensitive information.

Image: Ahmed Abu Khatallah
Ahmed Abu Khatallah, the only person to be charged in connection with the 2012 attacks on US diplomatic facilities in Behghazi, Libya, appeared briefly today in a US courtroom in Washington, DC.Art Lien / Art Lien

The offenses that could carry death sentences include one count of murder of an internationally protected person; three counts of murder of an officer and employee of the United States; four counts of killing a person in the course of an attack on a federal facility involving the use of a firearm and a dangerous weapon; and two counts of maliciously damaging and destroying U.S. property by means of fire and an explosive causing death.

Related

Hillary Clinton Says Questions Remain About Benghazi Attack

The U.S. has not charged anyone else in the attacks.

Follow NBC News Investigations on Twitter and Facebook.

Asked by U.S. District Judge Christopher Cooper on Monday, "Will this remain a one-defendant case?" a member of the prosecution team answered, "The investigation is ongoing."

A status hearing on Khatallah’s case was scheduled for Dec. 9.

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