The mission to nab Benghazi terror suspect Ahmed Abu Khattala was months in the making. Once a Delta Force team at last launched into Libya on Sunday to carry out the plan, it was over in 32 minutes.
The details of the secret mission were confirmed to Fox News on Wednesday, and begin to shed light on how Khattala -- who lived in plain sight and brazenly gave media interviews over the course of nearly two years -- suddenly fell into U.S. custody.
Officials still face questions over why it took so long for the U.S. to go after Khattala. After all, U.S. teams had been following the suspect and knew his whereabouts since about five or six weeks after the Sept. 11, 2012 attack, when he started giving interviews.
But the mission itself, on Sunday, was described as clean and casualty-free.
U.S. military sources told Fox News that the Delta Force operators who carried out the mission did so "efficiently," completing it in 32 minutes.
The team captured him at his home south of Benghazi, though it's not clear whether he was inside or outside his home at the time.
According to reports, Khattala is now being held on the USS New York and is being questioned on board as the vessel sails back to the USA. The White House and Justice Department have said that Khattala will be tried in Federal court and not taken to the detention facility in Guantanamo Bay.
After the attacks, Khattala didn't even bother going into hiding and conducted interviews with media outlets such as FOX New and the New York Times in person, daring the US or Libyan government to come after him. However, since earlier this month Khattala's Ansar al Sharia militia has been engaged in skirmishes with forces loyal to renegade Libyan general Khalifa Haftar, who is accused by Libya's government of plotting a military coup.
In addition to Ambassador Stevens, US Foreign Service Information Management Officer Sean Smith and CIA contractors Tyrone Woods and Glen Dohety. During the attack Ambassador Stevens was reportedly pulled from the wreckage, taken to a medical facility controlled by Ansar Al Sharia where he later died from his injuries. The attack took place on the 11th anniversary of 9/11 and with the Presidential election still a few weeks away, the White House and State department spun the politically expedient narrative that the attack was the end result of a spontaneous demonstration that had spiraled out of control, despite reports that Ansar al Sharia fighters showed up with heavy weaponry such as mortars and antiaircraft guns.