Posts Tagged ‘Benghazi’


January 16, 2014

Fox News on January 15, 2014, reported that a comprehensive report by the Senate Intelligence Committee definitively declared that individuals tied to Al Qaeda groups were involved in the Benghazi attack, challenging recent claims that the terror network was not a factor. Excerpts below:

The report was released nearly one year after then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, under congressional questioning over the nature of the attack, shouted at lawmakers: “What difference, at this point, does it make?”

The administration initially claimed the attack sprung out of a protest, but has since given a more complicated assessment. Still, administration officials all along have downplayed Al Qaeda involvement, recently seizing on a New York Times report that supported those claims.

While the report does not implicate Al Qaeda “core” — the leadership believed to be in the Pakistan region — it does blame some of the most influential Al Qaeda branches, including Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).

“Individuals affiliated with terrorist groups, including AQIM, Ansar al-Sharia, AQAP, and the Mohammad Jamal Network, participated in the September 11, 2012, attacks,” the report said. The militant Ansar al-Sharia was, separately, labeled by the State Department as a terror group last week, in part over its alleged involvement in the Benghazi strike.

“It remains unclear if any group or person exercised overall command and control of the attacks,” the report said. The report, though, reiterated that there was no protest in Benghazi before the attack.

The Senate panel report also dove extensively into what went wrong at the U.S. mission in Benghazi before the attack. The committee determined the attack was “preventable” and the administration failed to respond to “ample” warnings that security was deteriorating before Sept. 11, 2012.

The report faulted the State and Defense departments. It also cited the failure of the Obama administration to “bring the attackers to justice.”
Specifically, the report said the intelligence community provided “ample strategic warning” that security in eastern Libya was deteriorating and U.S. personnel “were at risk.”

The report also detailed a possible failed ambush, where attackers tried to lure the CIA into the hospital where Stevens’ body was being held.
The CIA did not take the bait.

Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., top Republican on the panel, also said the report provides “needed and deserved answers.”

“In spite of the deteriorating security situation in Benghazi and ample strategic warnings, the United States Government simply did not do enough to prevent these attacks and ensure the safety of those serving in Benghazi,” he said.


January 11, 2014

Fox News on January 10, 2014, reported that the State Department for the first time blamed specific groups and militants for the 2012 Benghazi attack, designating them as terrorists — a move that further undermines initial claims the attack was spontaneous.

The department announced that it was labeling Ansar al-Sharia in Benghazi and Ansar al-Sharia in Darnah as terror organizations, in part over their role in the Benghazi attack. It applied the same label to Ansar al-Sharia in Tunisia, over a separate attack on Americans in Tunis.

The State Department also labeled as terrorists Sufian bin Qumu, head of the Darnah branch and a former Guantanamo Bay detainee, and Ahmed Abu Khattalah, head of the Benghazi branch.

According to bin Qumu’s Guantanamo file, he has historic ties to the Al Qaeda network, including training at one point at “Usama bin Laden’s Torkham camp.”
The State Department, in its announcement , specifically discussed allegations against the Ansar al-Sharia branches.

“Ansar al-Shari’a in Benghazi and Ansar al-Shari’a in Darnah have been involved in terrorist attacks against civilian targets, frequent assassinations, and attempted assassinations of security officials and political actors in eastern Libya, and the September 11, 2012 attacks against the U.S. Special Mission and Annex in Benghazi, Libya,” the department said. “Members of both organizations continue to pose a threat to U.S. interests in Libya.”

Shortly after the attack, administration officials indicated it was related to protests over an anti-Islam film that were raging elsewhere in Africa and the Middle East, describing it as spontaneous. They have since backed off that explanation, though have not ruled out the film as having played some role. Many lawmakers, though, have claimed the film was not a factor and the attack was planned by terrorists.

The department cited Khattalah and bin Qumu over their leadership roles in the al-Sharia organizations. Khattalah, though, told Fox News in October 2012 that while he was at the U.S. consulate that night, he was not responsible for the attack. He claimed he was helping Libyan security workers defending the compound.

The new terror designation bars anyone from providing or trying to provide “material support or resources” to those organizations and individuals, and freezes any assets they have in the U.S. The State Department announced that it has also updated its Rewards for Justice website to include a reward of up to $10 million for information leading to the arrest or conviction of anyone involved in the Benghazi attack.

The department had faced criticism for not including that reward on the website, though officials claimed reward offers had nevertheless been made.

Four Americans died in the 2012 attack, and so far nobody has been brought to justice in connection with the killings.


December 6, 2013

Fox News on December 4, 2013, reported that personnel from US intelligence who testified on the Benghazi attack provided new evidence that it was premeditated, telling lawmakers that the deadly mortar strike on the CIA annex began within minutes of a rescue team’s arrival. Excerpts below:

According to the closed-door testimony on the Hill by two personnel of US intelligence, a small team was sent on the night of the attack from Tripoli and got held up at the Benghazi airport. After they were eventually cleared, they arrived at the annex. Witnesses testified that it did not seem coincidental that the mortar attack began soon after.

Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, R-Ga., told Fox News after the closed, classified session that all of the witnesses (eight total witnesses have now testified in these sessions) were on the same page about the nature of the mortar attack, which killed former Navy SEALs Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty on the annex roof.

“These were trained people and … it was an attack. It wasn’t over any type of film or propaganda,” Westmoreland emphasized, referring to the administration’s initial claims that an anti-Islam film triggered protests that led to the attack.

“We don’t know why the administration would have ever thought any differently,” Westmoreland said. “Other than that they and the State Department were trying to make sure that they were covered because of the unpreparedness they were in.”

The witnesses also testified that the mortar fire was extremely accurate, professional and likely the work of a trained mortar team which they believe included a spotter. They said the first mortar was about 25 meters short of the target, the second was closer and the next three hit.

The witnesses also told lawmakers that when they arrived in the early morning hours of Sept. 12, some of the State Department consulate survivors seemed to be in the “early stages of shock, crying” — and left the impression they had never faced hostile fire before.

The information about the mortar attack was communicated to Tripoli, which is in the chain of command, and it was Tripoli’s job to communicate details to Washington.

The witnesses also said they knew when they arrived in Benghazi, based on information passed on earlier in the evening, that Ambassador Chris Stevens was missing after the first wave of the attack.

The witnesses further said the communication between CIA in Benghazi and Tripoli seemed solid. The Tripoli office would have been expected to keep Washington informed of the events in a timely fashion.

Catherine Herridge is an award-winning Chief Intelligence correspondent for FOX News Channel (FNC) based in Washington, D.C. She covers intelligence, the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security. Herridge joined FNC in 1996 as a London-based correspondent.


November 20, 2013

Michael Ingmire on Fox News wrote on November 19, 2013, about his nephew Sean Smith, who was killed in the attack on the diplomatic outpost in Benghazi. Excerpts below:

Since publicly expressing my support for Congressman Frank Wolf’s efforts to establish an Independent Select Committee to investigate Benghazi in December 2012, via House Res. 36, I have spoken to hundreds of Congressional and Senatorial Representatives asking for support for Congressman Wolf’s bill and have discussed a variety of Benghazi based topics.

I have given interviews to members of the media, consulted with various intelligence and military personnel about what happened in Benghazi.

In addition, I have also written articles about a variety of Benghazi related topics and have written many emails and letters asking for assistance in pursuit of the truth about the real scandal that is Benghazi.

The object lesson of this journey is that every American citizen should hold their government accountable and not be afraid to confront the members of Congress and the president when bad behavior, avarice greed, or lies and criminal activity are present.

It is especially frustrating when President Obama pleads continued ignorance to issues like Benghazi…

Without a doubt, Benghazi became personal when my nephew Sean was murdered. Granted, Sean was part of my extended family via his marriage to my wife’s niece. But, ultimately, family is family.

During the summer of 2013, when I was feeling somewhat frustrated about the slow moment of progress in the House of Representatives regarding Benghazi, I started asking friends, Congressional aides and other individuals whom I respect why the Senate cannot step up to the plate and establish their own Independent Select Committee.

Therefore, I was thrilled when I read Senator Ted Cruz’s proposed bill, Senate Resolution 225, the week of the year anniversary of my nephew Sean’s death on September 11, 2013. Senate Resolution 225 wishes to establish an Independent Joint Select Committee to fully investigate Benghazi.

I believe in the process of a Select Committee. For Benghazi, we need one set of committee members, from both the House and Senate, who can read classified documents and who have subpoena power.

Starting today, a letter I wrote to Senator Cruz, in support of Senate Res. 225, will be handed out to the members of the Senate as a “Dear Colleague” letter. That letter is included in the text of this commentary. All Americans should be outraged about what happened in Benghazi.

This op-ed, the letters I have written, and the phone calls I have made about Benghazi are one more step towards the getting to the truth about what happened to four brave Americans on September 11, 2012 and the continued aftermath and consequences of that attack.