State Department security officers explained scenes the chaos and also death together September 2012 strikes unfolded at the U.S. Diplomatic mission and adjacent CIA article in Benghazi, Libya, as the commonwealth trial ongoing Tuesday that the accused ringleader the the attacks, Ahmed Abu Khattala.
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In six hrs of testimony, Diplomatic security special agent Scott Wickland was standing as among the single surviving human links between the two strike sites and several victims.
As bodyguard to U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, Wickland to be the last person to see him and also an aide alive together they tried come escape a burning mission villa. Wickland likewise was at the wheel of an armored car evacuating U.S. Security personnel the ran a gauntlet of hostile fire come the CIA annex, just to have the strike trail them and also mortar rounds kill two an ext Americans and wound one of Wickland’s nearby friends simply feet away from him on a rooftop.
"They every looked prefer they had seen a ghost," stated Wickland, describing agents" reaction at finding that alive external the villa. "My face was covered in soot, my eye were black, my this were black."
Wickland"s riveting on-the-ground testimony in a commonwealth courtroom in Washington set the step of americans under fire because that prosecutors, however by itself did not straight implicate Abu Khattala, a Libyan militia leader caught overseas by U.S. Commandos in 2014.
Abu Khattala has pleaded no guilty to 18 counts consisting of murder, attempted murder, material support of terrorism and destruction that U.S. Framework in the Benghazi attacks of Sept. 11 and Sept. 12, 2012. He faces a life sentence if convicted.
Stevens was the very first U.S. Ambassador killed because 1979 in violent actions.
Wickland explained how very first he heard screams ~ above a protection radio as Libyan guards were shot and killed external the diplomatic compound, then much more shots as close to 80 militants overran the grounds and triggered explosions outside Stevens"s quarters after 9:45 p.m. Sept. 11, 2012.
Hunkered down in a closet converted right into a safe room protected by steel bars in a building designated Villa C, Wickland said he guarded Stevens, handed his shotgun to interactions aide Sean Patrick Smith, and then feel the pressure adjust in his ears as what he thought was a rocket-propelled grenade blew open up the external doors the the building.
"I didn"t understand that we were walk to do it the end of there alive," said Wickland, a previous U.S. Marine combat rescue swimmer who had arrived in Benghazi only six mainly earlier.
The attackers retreated, however the villa was collection afire, pumping acrid, black color smoke from ceiling to floor.
With one hand ~ above his M-4 rifle and also the other on Stevens, Wickland stated he last experienced the ambassador and Smith crawling behind him together they make the efforts to reach a bedroom with a window. "To this day, i don"t also know whereby they went," Wickland said, his voice recording with emotion throughout testimony. "I was right beside him and also then, that"s it."
Wickland climbed the end of the home window alone, climate reentered the compound four times to shot to discover the guys without success, vomiting from the smoke, comes under the fire once he to be outside, and calling ~ above his radio for assist , he said.
Finally, the climbed come the roof, pulling increase a ladder ~ him, testifying, "That"s when I knew
Wickland was got to by various other agents, tho barefoot due to the fact that the assault began so unexpectedly he go not have time to put on shoes. A Tripoli-based U.S. Agent uncovered Smith"s body and also carried it out through Diplomatic defense agent Dave Ubben.
Reluctant to give up Stevens however believing that dead and fearing a fix up attack, 2 carloads the U.S. Protection personnel fell ago to the CIA annex, little more than a kilometer away. Wickland journey one car, and also as the passed a group of about 90 armed Libyans, they opened fire , striking "the vehicle hundreds of times."
Once inside the gate, global Response employee CIA contractors were "shocked" to watch the damage, that said. An explosion that Wickland suspected was tossed gelatin gunpowder "ripped off" lot of the behind of the vehicle, 2 tires to be shot out, home windows were spiderwebbed and the body appeared pocked by hundreds of bulletmarks.
Wickland got in a building, when Ubben and also the GRS team in the other vehicle, consisting of Tyrone S. Woods, a 41-year-old former Navy SEAL, took positions on the rooftop. Another GRS team indigenous Tripoli arrived, and one member, glenn Doherty, 42, a previous SEAL and also medic, confirm on Wickland, who had been struggling to breathe.
"I to be pretty grateful for that. That seemed just like a good guy . . . And also then best away, he just went up and joined my friends ~ above the roof," Wickland said. "Right after that i hear the explosions happen."
Four suspected mortar rounds hit, the said. Doherty and Woods to be killed. GRS member mark "Oz" Geist, climate 46 and also a former police chief, suffered wounds to his neck, arm and abdomen; Ubben, 36, that had concerned Wickland"s rescue, had actually severe wounds to his face, arm and also leg.
With casualties mounting, the american evacuated with Benghazi’s airport, whereby Stevens’s human body was changed by familiar Libyans.
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Wickland said he left Libya having never fired a shot with the attacks, and has not gone back.
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