Libyan militant faces detention hearing

This June 28, 2014, artist's rendering shows United States Magistrate, Judge John Facciola, swearing in the defendant, Libyan militant Ahmed Abu Khatallah, wearing a headphone, as his attorney Michelle Peterson watches during a hearing at the federal U.S. District Court in Washington. The Libyan militant now in U.S. custody in the Benghazi attacks was motivated to do so by his extremist ideology, the government said Tuesday, July 1. In the days before the attacks, Ahmed Abu Khattala voiced concern and opposition to the presence of an American facility in Benghazi, according to a federal court filing. (AP Photo/Dana Verkouteren)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Libyan militant now in U.S. custody in the Benghazi attacks that killed four Americans faces a court appearance where federal prosecutors will argue why he should remain in detention.

The hearing for Ahmed Abu Khattala is before Magistrate Judge Deborah A. Robinson.

Khattala's expected trial will take place alongside ongoing congressional and Justice Department investigations into the 2012 attack that killed an ambassador and the Obama administration's response to it shortly before the 2012 presidential election.

In court papers filed Tuesday night, the U.S. Attorney's office in Washington said Abu Khattala has continued to target Americans with deadly and destructive intentions.

The court papers described in general terms the case that prosecutors plan to bring against the defendant. The court filing says that after U.S personnel evacuated the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, Abu Khattala entered the compound and supervised the collection of material found at the scene. Abu Khattala then returned to a camp in Benghazi controlled by Ansar al-Shariah, where a large armed group began assembling for an attack on the mission's annex.

Abu Khattala, the court papers added, is a commander of Abu Obaida bin Jarrah Brigade, an extremist group that was absorbed into Ansar al-Sharia after the recent Libyan revolution. Ansar al-Sharia is an Islamic extremist militia in Libya that holds anti-Western views and advocates the establishment of Sharia law in Libya.

In the days that followed the attack, Abu Khattala attempted to obtain equipment, including weapons, to defend himself from anticipated U.S. retaliation, the government said.

In late 2013, according to the court filing, Abu Khattala expressed anger that the U.S. conducted a capture operation of a Libyan fugitive in Tripoli, and he targeted U.S. interests in the region for retaliation.

He also expressed concern that the U.S. might try to capture him in Libya and stepped up his personal security.

The rampage in Benghazi on the 11th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks has long been politically divisive. Republicans have criticized the response by Hillary Rodham Clinton, then the secretary of state, to the attacks. Republicans have accused the White House of misleading Americans and downplaying down a terrorist attack ahead of Barack Obama's re-election. The White House has accused Republicans of seeking political gains from the violence.