Government’s response: We’ll pass.
BENGHAZI (CBS News) – Ahmed Boukhatala didn’t look like a wanted man, sipping mango juice across the table from me in a Benghazi hotel.
Dressed in a crisp white robe, a long grey beard on his face, Boukhatala was happy to share his fundamentalist Islamic beliefs.
He calmly denied having anything to do with the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. Consulate which killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.
“But the President himself, Mohammed Magariaf, told us you were one of the prime suspects,” I told him.
He just smiled.
“If that’s what the President is saying,” replied Boukhatala, “Then he should come to my house and arrest me.”
But that’s something government security forces dare not do.
Boukhatala is the chief of a ferocious militia in Benghazi, the Abu Ubaidah Brigades – a sub-group of the larger Ansar al Shariah militia.
These men, armed to the teeth with weapons looted from deposed dictator Muammar Qaddafi’s arsenals, act as both military and police in parts of Benghazi. They are the law – because they say so.
The government’s security forces – official police and army – are simply too weak to push them out.