A federal judge on Wendesday ordered that the suspected ringleader in the 2012 Benghazi attacks be held in prison without bond.

Federal prosecutors said Ahmed Abu Khattala needed to be detained because of his extremist connections and his expressed desire to harm U.S. citizens.


"Given the defendant’s proclivity for violence as well as his ability to readily communicate with other similar-minded individuals, as demonstrated by his status as a commander of an extremist brigade, his detention is the only means available to neutralize that threat,” prosecutors said in a court filing late Tuesday. 

Khattala will be held in U.S. custody pending a trial, which has not yet been scheduled.

Last Saturday, he pleaded not guilty to a single conspiracy charge of providing material support to terrorists in District Court in Washington. He was flown to Washington earlier that day by helicopter after U.S. officials questioned him for nearly two weeks aboard the USS New York.

Federal prosecutors said in the Tuesday filing that “after his capture, the defendant gave voluntary statements corroborating key facts.”

They also said in the days leading up to the Libya attacks, Khattala “voiced concern and opposition to the presence of an American facility in Benghazi.”

Special operations forces captured Khattala in Benghazi, Libya, on June 15. He is the first suspect in the 2012 attacks to be apprehended.

Charges were filed last year in the U.S. against Khattala and a dozen other suspects in the Benghazi attacks. Khattala faces three criminal charges including providing material support to terrorists resulting in death, using a firearm in a crime of violence and killing a person in an attack on a federal facility. 

That last charge could lead to the death penalty. The Justice Department has said that it might decide to bring further charges against him.