TUNIS, TunisiaA Tunisian man who was arrested in Turkey this month with reported links to the attack on a U.S. consulate in Libya is facing terrorism charges, his lawyer said Wednesday, as an Egyptian official said a militant suspected of involvement was killed in clashes in Cairo.
An Egyptian interior ministry source told CBS News' Alex Ortiz the suspect in Egypt, known only by his first name, Hazem, was killed after neighbors summoned police for a suspicious resident. The police came in and exchanged fire with the target. The man blew himself up in his apartment during the engagement with security forces.
It is unclear whether Hazem was Egyptian, or just living in Cairo. .
An Egyptian official told the Associated Press the man recently returned from Libya and kept weapons in his hideout. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to brief reporters, said an investigation into the man's possible involvement in the consulate attack is under way.
In Tunisia, suspect Ali Harzi was repatriated on Oct. 11 by authorities in Turkey, and a judge issued his arrest warrant, lawyer Ouled Ali Anwar told The Associated Press. He said his client was told by a judge Tuesday that he has been charged with "membership of a terrorist organization in a time of peace in another country."
U.S. officials told CBS News' David Martin Wednesday that Harzi is not considered to be one of the ring leaders of the Benghazi attack; So far the FBI has not been allowed to question him
A person who saw Harzi's court dossier told The Associated Press that the file links him to the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi that left Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans dead.
He said Harzi is one of two Tunisians reportedly arrested Oct. 3 in Turkey when they tried to enter the country with false passports. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release the information. Harzi's alleged role in the attack is not clear.
Anwar denied there was any evidence that Ali was implicated in the attacks. He added his client was not using a fake passport, saying he was a "scapegoat to satisfy the Americans."
The charge against Harzi is punishable by six to 12 years in prison, according to the provisions of the anti-terrorist law in force in Tunisia since 2003.
CBS News' Khaled Wassef reports Ali Harzi was also arrested and jailed in Tunisia back in 2006. He was put on trial "on terror-related charges" with his other brother, Ibrahim, and were both sentenced to 4 years in prison in 2007. He was released from prison at some point and seemed to have been very active in prisoners' rights associations in Tunisia. His postings on the September 11 attack in Benghazi were suspiciously posted online fairly quickly, and may have included details that insinuated that he perhaps had inside information.
Earlier this month, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said the U.S. has been looking into the arrests of two Tunisian men being detained in Turkey reportedly in connection with the attacks. The State Department in Washington had no further comment on Wednesday.
A U.S. intelligence official was cautious about the Tunisian arrest, saying that the Tunisians have so far not allowed American officials to interview the suspect, so the U.S. is not yet certain how directly he is connected to the attack.
The suspect has ties to both Ansar al-Shariah and al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, as do most like-minded militants in the region, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the investigation publicly.
Tunisian Interior Ministry spokesman Tarrouch Khaled confirmed that Harzi was in custody in Tunis. Khaled said "his case is in the hands of justice," but he would not elaborate further.