Patrick Garrity and Elizabeth Chuck, NBC News

(NBC News) - American special forces seized the suspected mastermind of the deadly Benghazi consulate attack in a weekend raid in Libya, a U.S. administration official said Tuesday.

Ahmed Abu Khattala has been suspected in the assault that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans since shortly after the Sept. 11, 2012, attack. His capture marks the first apprehension of one of the alleged perpetrators in the attack.

Khattala was grabbed Sunday "in an extremely tightly held SOF (Special Operations Forces) operation," a U.S. official told NBC News.

According to one senior official, "There may be other shoes to drop."

Khattala told Reuters in an interview in October 2012 that he had only heard he was a suspect through media reports and was surprised that officials had told journalists he was at large.

"These reports say that no one knows where I am and that I am hiding," he said. "But here I am in the open, sitting in a hotel with you. I'm even going to pick up my sister's kids from school soon."

The militia commander acknowledged he was present during the incident but said he was not one of the ringleaders.

Khattala, a senior leader of the Benghazi branch of terror group Ansar al-Sharia in Libya, is being held in a secure location, a U.S. official said.

There were no casualties in the secret weekend raid.

He will be tried in U.S. court, and is currently being interrogated by FBI officials.

The U.S. had filed charges against Khattala and others last year, but no arrests were made until now, prompting strong criticism against the Obama administration from Republicans.

Besides Ambassador Stevens, the attack killed State Department security official Sean Smith and CIA contractors Tyrone S. Woods and Glen Doherty.