WASHINGTON: An Islamic State operative suspected of involvement in the 2012 attack on the U.S. diplomatic outpost in Benghazi, Libya, has been killed in a U.S. airstrike in Iraq, the Pentagon said Monday.
Ali Awni al-Harzi “operated closely with multiple ISIL-associated extremists throughout North Africa and the Middle East,” Defense Department spokesman Col. Steve Warren said in a statement, using one acronym for the militant group. “His death degrades ISIL’s ability to integrate North African jihadists into the Syrian and Iraqi fight and removes a jihadist with long ties to international terrorism.”
Warren said al-Harzi, a Tunisian national, was killed last week in Mosul, which fell to Islamic State forces a year ago.
California Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said al-Harzi “was responsible for planning hundreds of suicide attacks across the world and was one of the first foreign fighters” to join the Islamic State group. Schiff said al-Harzi “was also responsible for recruiting foreign fighters and sending them to the fight in Syria.”
Schiff added that al-Harzi “was also suspected of involvement in their hostage program, and to have played a role in the … attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi.”
The Sept. 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. outpost in Benghazi killed four Americans, including U.S. ambassador Chris Stevens.