Dec 22, 10:45 AM EST
FBI question Benghazi consulate attack suspect
By BOUAZZA BEN BOUAZZA
TUNIS, Tunisia (AP) — After months of asking, agents from the FBI questioned the only known suspect in the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi that killed four diplomats, the suspect’s Tunisian lawyer told The Associated Press Saturday.
Ali Harzi, a Tunisian, was detained in Turkey and extradited to Tunisia in October where authorities have said he is “strongly suspected” of being involved in the attack.
His lawyer, Anwar Oued-Ali, added that Harzi was also questioned about an attack on the U.S. embassy in Tunisia, a few days later, suggesting the American authorities are looking into if there is a connection between the two attacks.
The Sept. 11 assault by armed men in the Libyan city of Benghazi killed U.S. Ambassador Chris Stephens and three other American diplomats. Members of an Islamist militia, Ansar al-Sharia are suspected in the strike, but there has been little progress in the Libya-based investigation into the attack.
A few days later, a mob attacked the U.S. embassy in Tunis, destroying property and an American school in the area, resulting in four deaths. The attack was believed to be instigated by a local group also called Ansar al-Sharia, but it is unclear if it is connected to the Libyan organization.
In early November, Republican senators Lindsey Graham and Saxby Chambliss announced that Tunisia had agreed to allow the FBI to interview Harzi, but it took another month and a half to organize the interview due to legal questions over any infringements on Tunisian sovereignty.
In the end, three FBI investigators using a Moroccan translator posed questions to Harzi for three hours through the Tunisian judge presiding over the case.
Harzi’s defense team was not allowed to attend the questioning on the grounds that he was being interviewed as a “witness” rather than a defendant.
Harzi is being charged by the Tunisians for “membership in a terrorist organization.” Harzi denies the charges.