A suspected Islamic militant has been arrested in Tunisia while he is investigated for his involvement in the September 11 attacks on the US Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, according to US government sources.
The suspect has been identified as Ali Ani al Harzi and was one of two Tunisians authorities detained in Turkey in early October, reports Reuters.
News reports stated at the time of their arrest that the men were stopped at an airport in Istanbul when they attempted to enter the country with false passports. US government sources have revealed that al Harzi is the only one of the detained men who is under investigation for the Benghazi attacks.
US Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens and three other American officials were killed in the attack. An official with the Tunisian Ministry of Justice confirmed that a man has been arrested, but has denied it has anything to do with Stevens’ murder. The official stated:
“The arrested person was deported by Turkey last month, but he has nothing to do with the killing of the U.S. ambassador.”
US investigators believe, however that al Harzi “had something to do with [the Benghazi violence] for sure.” CBS News notes that the man’s lawyer announced on Wednesday that he is facing terrorism charges.
An Egyptian official also stated that a militant suspected of involvement in the Benghazi attack was killed in clashes in Cairo. An Egyptian interior ministry source stated that the suspect, known only as Hazem, was killed by police after they were summoned by neighbors for suspicious activity.
An Egyptian official added that the man killed had recently returned from Libya and also kept weapons in his hideout. The Tunisian man’s lawyer, Ouled Ali Anwar, stated that his client was told by a judge on Tuesday that he has been charged with “membership of a terrorist organization in a time of peace in another country.”
Anwar denied any evidence that Ali was implicated in the attacks, adding that he was “a scapegoat to satisfy the Americans.” US officials have said that Ali Ani al Harzi is not thought to be a ringleader in the September 11 attacks, and that the FBI has not been allowed to question him yet.
Khaled Wassef, a CBS News correspondent, reported that Ali Harzi was arrested and jailed in Tunisia in 2006. He was also put on trial “on terror-related charges,” with his brother Ibrahim in 2007. Both of them were sentenced to four years in prison. His postings regarding the September 11 attack in Benghazi, Libya were published online quickly. They may have included details that insinuated he had been given inside information.
The US State Department had no additional comment on Wednesday regarding the Tunisian man’s arrest.