By Rebecca Shabad - 06/20/14 11:14 AM EDT
The brother of the Benghazi suspect apprehended by U.S. forces last weekend says he suspects the Libyan government assisted in his capture.
"I am convinced he was taken with the help of Libyans," Abu Bakr told Reuters about his brother Ahmed Abu Khattala, who is now in U.S. custody.
State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki has said it was a “unilateral U.S. operation.” Some Libyan officials, however, including its justice minister, hailed the secret raid as a violation of the nation’s sovereignty.
Abu Bakr said Khattala had been fighting an anti-Islamist general, Khalifa Haftar, in the run-up to his capture.
Haftar has launched attacks on suspected Islamist bases in eastern Libya in an effort to root out extremists. In response, Khattala joined in a battle against Haftar, said Abu Bakr, who said his brother drove away with a friend last Sunday.
"The family was in contact with him on Saturday and Sunday. I was told that he drove away with a friend on Sunday and that was the last we heard of him."
"Residents told me they saw two helicopters near the coast in Qanfuda," Abu Bakr added, saying Khattala’s car was found in that town, about six miles from Benghazi.
Khattala faces charges in the U.S. for his role in the 2012 attacks in Benghazi, and could be eligible for the death penalty if convicted.
A month after the attacks, Khattala told Reuters he was at the U.S. compound when they happened, but was only helping to divert traffic.