A Libyan militant captured by U.S. special forces in June for his alleged role in the 2012 Benghazi attacks was indicted on new charges Tuesday, including crimes punishable by the death penalty.
Ahmed Abu Khattala, 43, faces an 18-count grand jury indictment, including multiple counts of murder, the Justice Department announced in a statement.
Khattala is the the first militant to be prosecuted for the Benghazi attack, which resulted in the deaths of four Americans, including the U.S. Ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens.
"These additional charges reflect Ahmed Abu Khattalah’s integral role in the attack on U.S. facilities in Benghazi, which led to the deaths of four brave Americans,” said Attorney General Eric Holder in the statement.
Prosecutors say Khattala was the leader of an Islamic extremist militia group that carried out the attacks on the U.S. diplomatic compound and nearby CIA annex that resulted in Steven's death, and those of U.S. government personnel Sean Smith, Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty.
According to the indictment, Khattala conspired with others to attack the facilities, kill U.S. citizens, destroy buildings and other property, and plunder materials including documents, maps and computers containing sensitive information.
The new charges that could carry death sentences include one count of murder of an international protected person and three counts of murder of an officer and employee of the U.S.
Khattala is also charged with 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.
One of Khattala's public defenders, Michelle Peterson, said Tuesday, "It is important to remember that an indictment is merely a set of allegations or charges, it is not evidence."
"We will vigorously defend Mr. Abu Khatallah in court where the government will be forced to prove his guilt, based upon actual evidence," she added.
Khattala is due to be arraigned on the new charges at a hearing on Oct. 20 in Washington. At an earlier hearing, Khattala pleaded not guilty to a terrorism conspiracy charge.
Khattala is in custody at a detention facility in Alexandria, Virginia, according to The Associated Press.