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WASHINGTON -- In the months after the 2012 Benghazi attacks, Ahmed Abu Khatallah always seemed to be hiding in plain sight.

Khatallah, a key suspect in the attack who officials say was captured on Sunday, was famously spotted just weeks after the deadly assault that left four Americans dead, according to a 2012 New York Times account, sipping a strawberry frappe on the patio of a Benghazi hotel.

In separate interviews with CNN and the Associated Press, after federal charges were filed last year, Khatallah said he had nothing to do with the assault.

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"I am a Libyan citizen and the American government has nothing to do with me," he said in a telephone interview then with the AP last year. "I am in my city, having a normal life and have no troubles and if they have an inquiry to make, they should get in touch with Libyan authorities."

All the while, U.S. authorities had been eying the Libyan militia leader as a central figure in the attacks.

"Since that attack," Attorney General Eric Holder said Tuesday, "we have conducted a thorough, unrelenting investigation, across continents, to find the perpetrators. The arrest of Khatallah proves that the U.S. government will expend any effort necessary to pursue terrorists who harm our citizens.

"Khatallah currently faces criminal charges on three counts, and we retain the option of adding additional charges in the coming days. Even as we begin the process of putting Khatallah on trial and seeking his conviction before a jury, our investigation will remain ongoing as we work to identify and arrest any co-conspirators. This is our pledge; we owe the victims of the Benghazi attack and their loved ones nothing less."

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