May 16th, 2013
04:05 PM ET

U.S. options to 'capture or kill' Benghazi suspects

By Barbara Starr

The U.S. military has updated plans to "capture or kill" alleged perpetrators of the deadly terror attack on the American diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, CNN has learned.

The development comes amid growing pressure on the White House to show progress in the effort to catch those who killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans last September 11.

Officials emphasize that military planning has been underway since the immediate aftermath of the armed assault.

One part of the plan calls for potentially putting U.S. military personnel on the ground inside Libya, if ordered by President Barack Obama.

Two U.S. officials confirmed the details to CNN, but declined to be named because of the sensitive nature of the information.

The plan was updated and discussed at the highest levels of the military as recently as last week.

The military has a list of several targets including some inside Benghazi and others in outlying areas. There are specific individuals named who are believed associated with the Benghazi attack as well other militants the United States wants to get. There are also militant camps or stronghold areas on the list that could be attacked.

The plan has series of "capture or kill" options that Obama would have to approve. It's not known how much of this he may have been briefed about.

One military official said the military is well aware that if it is ordered into action now by the White House, it could be viewed as a political move in light of the ongoing controversy over Benghazi. But he noted that initial planning began shortly after the attack last year.

Special operations forces have stayed in the North Africa region since the attack in varying numbers to collect intelligence and be ready to launch attacks if ordered.

CNN has been asked to not say where those forces are located.

Officials are emphasizing that its possible no military options will be carried out if the United States and Libyan law enforcement make any arrests.

The information was confirmed to CNN as a result of several days of reporting. It was not offered to CNN by the officials as part of any coordinated effort to reach out to the media.

Both officials declined to specify locations or names of potential targets.

But there are briefings circulating around the administration about a potential attack plan. A separate senior U.S. official said there has been no orders from the White House to carry out any option.

The initial "capture or kill" options assembled late last year were not approved by the White House for military action.

One military official said the administration was concerned that any American military intervention could weaken the fragile Libyan government so much that it might collapse.

That argument has also been made in the more recent discussions, but several officials say intelligence about the targets has improved.

On Wednesday, Attorney General Eric Holder told Congress that the law enforcement investigation has made progress.

"We will be prepared shortly, I think, to reveal all that we have done," Holder told the House Judiciary Committee.

Last week, the FBI released photos of three men it is seeking information about who could "possibly be implicated" in the attack. A federal law enforcement official said the men were at the scene but it is unclear whether they were involved.

soundoff (864 Responses)
  1. go to this web-site

    Hello there, just changed into aware of your blog through Google, and located that it's truly informative. I am gonna watch out for brussels. I will be grateful when you proceed this in future. Numerous other folks can be benefited out of your writing. Cheers!

    May 24, 2013 at 5:36 am | Reply
  2. California

    IRS officials to take the 5th. REALLY?!?!

    Transparency at it's best.

    May 21, 2013 at 7:04 pm | Reply
  3. California

    To quote democrat, WHAT DIFFERENCE DOES IT MAKE???

    May 21, 2013 at 6:46 pm | Reply
  4. jackyboy

    always killing... killing killing killing, criminals that are those people! whoever does it, 'they' or 'us'
    at least don't call yourself christians then

    May 21, 2013 at 7:50 am | Reply
    • Eyeswideopen

      You need to learn your christian history. I suggest you start with THE CRUSADES.....

      May 22, 2013 at 3:36 am | Reply
  5. CMI

    Yeah Libya had the option of capturing or killing our Ambassador. They elected "kill". Obama started an undeclared war on Libya and it is nowhere near being over. Involving the FBI is a major joke. Benghazi was an act of war.

    May 20, 2013 at 11:31 pm | Reply
    • Eyeswideopen

      I would love to know what measures have been taken to say that Obama has done anything in the way of an undeclared war??? War should have been declared before the sun came up that day!!!!!! The only reason that anything is being done now is because of the pressure from people all over the nation. Anybody with a half a brain knew that this incident did not happen because of some internet flick. That story and all the other crap that was being released to the world was insulting to my intelligence. We are owed the entire truth!!!!!!!!!!

      May 22, 2013 at 3:32 am | Reply
  6. How Many?

    How many embasy people were killed when Bush was president?

    May 20, 2013 at 4:13 pm | Reply
  7. manyote

    Option of capturing or killing them? I'll go with killing them.

    May 20, 2013 at 12:50 pm | Reply
    • Eyeswideopen

      Killing would normally be the way to go but, this administration has stalled and lied so much about this incident that I personally would like to see them captured and interrogated for all the nation to see. Even if it means waiting to read it through the Freedom of information act.

      May 22, 2013 at 3:14 am | Reply
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