- - Thursday, June 27, 2013

Libya’s government earlier this month released a key terror suspect who U.S. officials say was involved in planning the Sept. 11 terrorist attack on U.S. diplomatic and intelligence facilities in Benghazi.

Faraj al Chalabi, (also spelled Shibli) an al Qaeda terrorist also linked to the 1994 terrorist murder of two German tourists, was detained by the Tripoli government in March.

However, al Chalabi was released June 12 based on claims that there was a lack of evidence to hold him custody.

A U.S. official said the U.S. government has evidence al Chalabi was linked to the Benghazi attack but did not provide that information to the Libyan government. It could not be learned why the evidence was not used to hold the suspect.

The FBI is conducting an investigation into the Benghazi attack. An FBI spokeswoman declined to comment on al Chalabi’s release.

Chalabi, who was arrested by the Libyans in March after returning from Pakistan, is believed by U.S. intelligence and law enforcement officials to be one of the people who organized the attack on the diplomatic compound.

U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens and three others Americans were killed after dozens of al Qaeda-linked terrorists attacked the compound and a nearby CIA facility.

Al Chalabi was a member of both al Qaeda and the Libyan Islamist Fighting Group (LIFG). He had previously been sought in connection with the attack on German nationals Silvan and Vera Becker near Sirte, Libya in 1994.

The LIFG has not been identified as continuing to operate in Libya. However, a Pentagon report on al Qaeda in Libya said: “While some of its former leaders have distanced themselves from al Qaeda and reiterated their intent to play by the democratic rules of the new Libya, clandestinely, some former members of LIFG may be among those helping to create the al Qaeda network.”

The release of al Chalabi was first reported by the Benghazi publication New Quryna Online on June 13.

That report quoted a relative as saying al Chalabi was detained in Pakistan for three months.

In an interview with New Quryna, al Chalabi identified his full name as Faraj Husayn Hasan al-Shalabi al-Urfi, who was also known in Afghanistan as Ahmad Abdallah al-Libi.

He said he left Libya in June 1995 and traveled to Sudan and Syria before settling in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, where he lived until the U.S. military operation in Afghanistan in October 2001.

“Consequently, I had to go to the Tora Bora Mountains, then to the Pakistani city of Peshawar, where I got married and settled until I was arrested in 2004 following a Libyan-Pakistani agreement,” he stated.

He was imprisoned in Libya’s Abu-Salim Prison and was released on Feb. 15, two days before the start of the revolution that toppled Libyan strongman Muammar Gadhafi.

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