Tunisian Officials Will Allow U.S. to Question Benghazi Attack Suspect

A picture shows a burnt building at the U.S. consulate compound in Benghazi, Libya, two days after a Sept. 11 attack that left four Americans dead. Tunisian officials have agreed to allow the U.S. to question a Tunisian suspect. (GIANLUIGI GUERCIA/AFP/GettyImages)

Tunisian officials have agreed to allow the U.S. to question a suspect in the deadly Sept. 11 attack on an American diplomatic facility in Libya, two senators announced Nov. 2.

The agreement came after GOP Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Saxby Chambliss of Georgia pressed top Tunisian diplomats to allow U.S. officials to meet in person with the suspect in the Benghazi attack, Ali Ani al Harzi.

Graham earlier this week wrote to senior Tunisian officials, arguing “providing access to this suspect is of the highest importance to me and many other members of Congress.” The Senate Armed Services and Appropriations committees member in that letter warned the officials that “the Tunisian response to this situation is of the utmost importance and could have profound impacts on the relations between our two countries moving forward.”

All U.S. questioning of al Harzi will take place under the supervision of Tunisian officials, according to Graham and Chambliss.

“Allowing American investigators in person access will make the interview more meaningful and is a welcome breakthrough in our efforts to find the perpetrators of the Benghazi consulate attacks,” Graham and Chambliss said in a joint statement. “This tight collaboration between our countries shows the growing strength of our partnership.

We hope our interview of Ali Ani al Harzi will bear fruit and we can bring to justice those responsible for killing” the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans, the senators said.

Graham has been among the most vocal and forceful GOP lawmakers in questioning the Obama administration’s handling of the consulate attack. GOP lawmakers say the administration had warnings before the Sept. 11 attack, but failed to act. The Republicans also say the administration denied requests for increased security at the Benghazi facility.

President Obama has vowed to hunt down those responsible for the attack, and also to punish any U.S. government officials who made mistakes.

In reports published Nov. 1, the CIA revealed it attempted to surge personnel to the consulate, but those forces were unable to thwart the attack, for which an al Qaeda-linked group has claimed responsibility.

John T. Bennett

John T. Bennett

Bennett is the Editor of Defense News' CongressWatch channel. He has a Masters degree in Global Security Studies from Johns Hopkins University.
John T. Bennett