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US covertly offers $10-million bounty for data on Benghazi attackers

Published time: November 16, 2013 10:18
Edited time: November 16, 2013 17:26
A vehicle and the surrounding area are engulfed in flames after it was set on fire inside the US consulate compound in Benghazi late on September 11, 2012.(AFP Photo / STR)

A vehicle and the surrounding area are engulfed in flames after it was set on fire inside the US consulate compound in Benghazi late on September 11, 2012.(AFP Photo / STR)

The US State Department has revealed it is offering a $10 million reward for any information on the attack at its diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya in 2012. It comes amid ongoing controversy and criticism surrounding the investigation of the attack.

Four Americans - including US ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens, a State Department worker, and two ex-Navy Seals - were killed in the attack on the loosely-guarded diplomatic mission on September 11,2012.

The US Administration, particularly former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, has been repeatedly criticized for its handling of the deadly attack.

Secretary of State John Kerry confirmed the bounty in a letter to Republican lawmaker Michael McCaul, who chairs the House of Representatives Homeland Security Committee and had enquired about the reward.

The bounty, which is a part of the ‘Rewards for Justice’ program, is available for those coming forward with data that leads to the arrest or conviction of any individual involved in the attack. It is unknown whether any money yet been paid.

The announcement was not published on the Rewards for Justice website, due to security concerns, the department said.

"Due to security issues and sensitivities surrounding the investigation, the event-specific reward offer has not been publicly advertised on the RFJ website. RFJ tools can be utilized in a variety of ways, without publicizing them on the website," the State Department's official statement said.

A State Department official told AP that it is unusual not to advertize offers of rewards, but added that investigators have other ways of making sure the information is known “as needed.”

He also said that the reward has been in place since January 7, when Clinton was still secretary of state.

A burnt house and a car are seen inside the US Embassy compound on September 12, 2012 in Benghazi, Libya following an overnight attack on the building.( AFP Photo / Stringer )

House Republicans have repeatedly raised concern over the department not doing enough to catch those behind the Benghazi attack. They had asked for an explanation as to why the suspects were not included in US government’s ‘Terror Tip’ program.

Back in May, AP learned that the FBI identified five suspects connected with last year's attack on the American diplomatic mission in Benghazi. However, officials said they wanted to collect more evidence before making arrests and trying them in court.

In August, the US filed charges against former Libyan militia Ahmed Abu Khattala, who was suspected of taking part in the attack, according to American media. Officials said he and an unspecified number of others were named in the sealed complaint filed in the US District Court in Washington.

According to The New York Times, Khattala was charged with murder. And while his exact role remained unclear, witnesses said they saw him directing other fighters on the night of the Benghazi attack, the paper wrote. Khattala, however, denied any involvement in the incident. 

The Obama administration has come under fire following the deadly assault, for the low level of security at American diplomatic posts in hot spots and for allegedly downplaying the scale of the attack.

Several GOP legislators have taken issue with delays in the investigation, evidently caused by infighting between the FBI and the Departments of Justice and State.

In October, Senator John McCain went so far as to allege that President Obama had been dishonest during initial media appearances regarding the Benghazi attack.