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

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    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
  8. opinion8it

    Big mistake if we put boots on the ground - it doesn't even sound like we know for certain who did it.

    May 20, 2013 at 6:24 am | Reply
  9. Joey Isotta-Fraschini ©™

    President Obama is leadIng as most voting USA citizens want him to lead, both in his country and throughout the world. That's what he is paid to do; that's how democracy works.

    May 20, 2013 at 2:36 am | Reply
  10. papa

    "What difference does it make? "

    May 20, 2013 at 2:03 am | Reply
  11. Name* willard

    President obama administration is guilty of more than incompetence the case of the benghzain attack thar result in the death of ambassdor chris steven and three other amercian

    May 19, 2013 at 7:54 pm | Reply
  12. Tom Slick

    1. If the President knew that this was an terrorist attack from the start the why did he say it was a YouTube video for weeks after including at the UN, Mexican news channel, and with Hillary at the services of the dead. What did Susan Rice push the video narrative on the Sunday talk shows?

    2. Who gave the stand down order?

    May 19, 2013 at 2:32 pm | Reply
    • Name*bruce

      Am bassador knew too much.. Just a white bump in the road

      May 19, 2013 at 3:24 pm | Reply
      • Mike

        How in any way is this a racial issue? Please stop with that nonsense and the conspiracy theories. Nobody wanted anyone attacked or killed except the attackers. From simply reading the wikipedia page of the incident, "Between 125 and 150 gunmen" with RPGs, hand-grenads, and machine guns attacked the consulate. "The attackers seal[ed] off streets leading to the main compound with gun trucks. The trucks bore the logo of Ansar al-Sharia, a group of Islamist militants working with the local government to manage security in Benghazi.

        So it's no secret who perpetrated the attack. Now the next question is must more difficult. What is the best way to go about bringing these militants to justice or if that is even the best course. Obviously, we don't want another land war, so that leaves drones or some sort of smaller force. But if the group has hundreds of followers, obviously a small force isn't going to work. Also drones don't permit you to capture, just kill, which is conceivably a violation of our moral principles. However is revenge morally justifiable with lethal force? Who knows... But it's a difficult call. I'm actually currently in Morocco now (just traveling, non-military or political in any way, and everything is perfectly fine here btw), and given the lack of infrastructure like decent roads, hospitals, amenities, and so forth in Libya anything planned there would be difficult.

        May 20, 2013 at 5:48 am |
    • Ord_Miller

      Fox News Sep 13, 2012 – Protesters angered by a film they consider blasphemous to Islam have stormed the U.S. Embassy compound in Yemen's capital, Sanaa
      Fox News Sep 14, 2012 – Anti-American protests erupted across the Middle East on Friday over the anti-Islam film produced in the United States, following week-long demonstrations outside of several U.S. embassies
      Fox News Sep 17, 2012 – In Jakarta, hundreds of Indonesians angered over the film clashed with police....
      NY Daily News Sep 21, 2012 – Protests over anti-Islam film continue to rage across the world ...
      A president moves to diffuse world-wide anger, and con-servatives, led by Mormon presidential candidate Willard Romney before our dead are buried. and now Mormon-Arab Daoud Issa and Mormon-renegade Jew Jason Cheffetz, dance on our American dead supporting terrorists to try and steal what they could not win at the ballot box. The Mormon gang needs to be investigated.

      May 19, 2013 at 8:09 pm | Reply
    • Mike

      Because it is quite possible that the video was the cause for the attack by Ansar al-Sharia (the 125-150 or so militants that attacked the compound). In that case, what they all said was pretty much correct except for the protest culminating in the attack part. Seemingly, there was only the attack. Plus, the situation was evolving and at the time, they didn't really know the motivations for the attack or anything. Besides, pretty much all the significant aspects of the story are known now. Plus, why the heck would they cover this up? What would be the point? There is none. Brave Americans died and while the government's initial story was slightly messed up (concerning the protest aspect), the essentials were all correct. So stop with the conspiracy theories.
      "David Kirkpatrick of the New York Times reported that 20-year-old neighbor Mohamed Bishari witnessed the attack. According to Bishari, it was launched without warning or protest and was led by the Islamist militia Ansar al-Sharia (different from the group called Ansar al-Sharia based in Yemen designated by the U.N. and the U.S. Department of State as a terrorist organization[97]). Kirkpatrick reported that Ansar al-Sharia said they were launching the assault in retaliation for the release of the anti-Islamic video, Innocence of Muslims.[98]"

      May 20, 2013 at 7:44 am | Reply
  13. Tom1940

    Whether it's "Bonny and Clyde", Usama Bin Laden, or a fella holding a gun against a hostages head. They should be given a chance to surrender at some point, or when they flee or fail to submit to arrest, resorting to deadly force is the only answer. That has been the authorities response all down through history, in protecting society from outlaws, etc.

    May 19, 2013 at 1:49 pm | Reply
  14. Alexander Argentina

    Syrian Arab Army Eliminates Jabhat al-Nusra Terrorists in Lattakia

    The Armed Forces continued operations against the armed terrorist groups in Lattakia countryside, eliminating scores of terrorists of non-Syrian nationalities and destroying their gatherings and hideouts in the areas of al-Mureej, al-Khadraa, Burj Zahya, Madares al-Rabe'a and al-Durra.

    An official source told SANA reporter that a warehouse containing rockets, heavy machineguns and various types of weapons were destroyed, adding that scores of terrorists were killed in the process, among them were Zuhair al-Samadi, of the Tunisian nationality, Subhi al-Anfoushi and Ayyash al-Sha'eri, of the Egyptian nationality and Ra'ouf al-Zabedi of the Libyan nationality.

    The Syrian Arab Army also targeted a warehouse of weapons and ammunition containing anti-armor shells and heavy machineguns and killed scores of terrorists in the areas of Jub al-Ahmar, Shalaf and al-Kuem al-Fuqani, terrorists Tufeeq al-Khazali, of the Palestinian nationality, Maher Alyo, Khaled Makki, Burhan al-Salloum, Azzam Allo and Omar al-Tarifi were identified among the dead.

    Syrian Arab Army Seizes Weapons, Turkish Communication Devices in Idleb

    In Idleb countryside, the Syrian Arab Army seized Turkish communication devices in addition to RPG launchers, night-vision binoculars, explosive materials and stolen medical materials that were hidden in a terrorists' hideout in Abu al-Duhour area.

    The engineering units dismantled many explosive devices planted by terrorists in the area of Abu al-Duhour and killed and injured scores of terrorists affiliated to Jabhet al-Nusra terrorist organization.

    Meanwhile, a military source said that Syrian Arab Army units destroyed terrroists' hideouts in the areas of al-Janudyeh, Maarat-masareen, Taftanaz and Jabal al-Arba'een.

    May 19, 2013 at 8:44 am | Reply
    • Tim

      Killing as much innocence as you can Asssad? Your people will carry you into the square and hang you.. Remember Gaddafi? ,he died a rat in the desert, So will you

      May 19, 2013 at 12:29 pm | Reply
  15. Eyeswideopen

    If the administration wants to find the people responsible, I would check Obama's address book, I'm sure these are some of his cronies from the Muslum brotherhood. He has given 1.3 billion dollars and military supplies to these animals.....

    May 19, 2013 at 4:43 am | Reply
    • Tim

      Obma hasnt killed anyone can you equate politics with dont understand the world do you?

      May 19, 2013 at 12:31 pm | Reply
      • Name*bruce

        Instead he just watched for 8 hours while our ambassador was murderer and then blamed a you tube video

        May 19, 2013 at 3:30 pm |
      • Pete

        @Tim,yah nothing much just ordering Seals in Osama BinLadens death with 21-22 of his Al Qaeda buddies thats all again nothing much!!

        May 19, 2013 at 6:38 pm |
  16. Marco Hsiao

    [The US must pay apology and compensation to Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria]

    The US government uses lies and violence to murder 100,000 innocent Iraqi people and own 4500 soldiers for promoting the US military budget. The result is clear; Iraq was forced by the US to become a friendly ally of Iran.

    The US violence also kills 30,000 innocent Afghan people, but could not reduce one Taliban fighter. 81% Afghan people want US soldiers to get out from Afghanistan, but the US violates democracy seriously. Syrian government has 53% supporting from Syrian people, the opposition only has 19% supporting.

    Now the US government provides weapons, lies and money to support the opposition of Syria, 40,500 innocent Syrian Muslims were slaughtered by the US violence in the unnecessary war to boost the US military spending.

    Thus the US is worst country on violating human right and violating morality on the earth in the 21st century. Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria must get apology and compensation (US$ 10 trillion, 3 trillion and 4 trillion) from the US. The world should have justice.

    May 19, 2013 at 1:54 am | Reply
  17. Libyan dude

    The free Libyan people truly appreciate all the support and the sacrifice that our friends in the good old USA have given us during our struggle to liberate our nation from the dictatorship that ruled our country for decades. We stand with you to bring to justice those responsible for the terrorist act that brought Ambassador Stevens live to an abrupt end. We truly consider Ambassador Chris a true hero for serving his country during these unstable times. His tragic death will only make us stronger allies standing together for human rights to live free under oath, liberty, and justice for all

    May 19, 2013 at 12:33 am | Reply
  18. Stellar17

    People don't have to look very far for info about the protesters in Benghazi and other places in the world, not just on 9/11/12, but in the weeks after, e.g. Chennai on 9/18/12. We can see the pictures and reports in the world's press, but those commenting here don't have to make much effort, CNN archives have it all. What I don't understand is why people ignore the facts and the evidence and post fiction to suit their own agenda.

    May 18, 2013 at 11:46 pm | Reply
  19. Dick Gozinyia

    Should capture or kill the IRS

    May 18, 2013 at 6:25 pm | Reply
  20. Lynndel Humphreys

    Why cannot the Libyan's use their own security forces. This should be handled by the Libyan's if they want an Embassy located there.

    May 18, 2013 at 11:13 am | Reply
  21. nermin

    please make this action asap because these people need force to stop them ,they established their own small army with excellent weapons and taking millions of dollars from the government which is weak and can not stop them...if you do this action later it will not make the desired results cos they will be stronger more people and more money thus more power..the libyan people needs the support and help of the americans at this time,,,,,please do not disappoint us be in the right time and no mercy to those scavengers,,,,,

    May 18, 2013 at 10:49 am | Reply
  22. Namejake

    Oh please, they're just blowing smoke up our asses.

    May 18, 2013 at 10:15 am | Reply
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