Suspect in Libya attack, in plain sight, scoffs at U.S.

Witnesses and the authorities have called Ahmed Abu Khattala one of the ringleaders of the Sept. 11 attack on the American diplomatic mission here. But just days after President Obama reasserted his vow to bring those responsible to justice, Mr. Abu Khattala spent two leisurely hours on Thursday evening at a crowded luxury hotel, sipping mango juice on a patio and scoffing at the threats coming from the American and Libyan governments…

Although Mr. Abu Khattala said he was not a member of Al Qaeda, he declared he would be proud to be associated with Al Qaeda’s puritanical zeal for Islamic law. And he said that the United States had its own foreign policy to blame for the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. “Why is the United States always trying to impose its ideology on everyone else?” he asked. “Why is it always trying to use force to implement its agendas?”…

But Mr. Abu Khattala insisted that he had not been part of the aggression at the American compound. He said he had arrived just as the gunfire was beginning to crackle and had sought to break up a traffic jam around the demonstration. After fleeing for a time, he said, he entered the compound at the end of the battle because he was asked to help try to rescue four Libyan guards working for the Americans who were trapped inside. Although the attackers had set fire to the main building, Mr. Abu Khattala said he had not noticed anything burning.

At the same time, he expressed a notable absence of remorse over the assault, which resulted in the deaths of four Americans, including J. Christopher Stevens, the American ambassador. “I did not know him,” he said.