From Benghazi To Boston
There is a common threat that links the Sept. 11, 2012 Benghazi attack to both the Boston Marathon bombings and the terror assault on the In Amenas gas facility in southern Algeria in January.
The thread runs through Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP, one of the most deadly members of the Al Qaeda conglomerate. AQAP has attempted several major attacks within the U.S.
The group was the first Al Qaeda member to comment on the Benghazi attack, releasing a statement arguing the assaults on the U.S. mission and nearby CIA annex were revenge for the death of Abu Yahya al-Libi, one of the most senior Al Qaeda operatives. Al-Libi, of Libyan descent, was believed to have been killed in Pakistan in June 2012. AQAP did not directly claim responsibility for the Benghazi attacks.
Lost in the news media coverage about the U.S. response to the Libya attacks was the fact that one day before the assaults, on Sept. 10, 2012, Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri released a video calling for attacks on Americans in Libya to avenge the death of al-Libi.
The 42-minute video announced the death of al-Libi. Released on a jihadi online forum less than 18 hours before the Benghazi attack, Zawahiri urged jihadists, and particularly those in Libya, to avenge his death.
Last week, CNN quoted sources disclosing that several Yemeni men belonging to AQAP took part in the Benghazi attacks. One senior U.S. law enforcement official told CNN that “three or four members of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula” took part in the attack.
Another source quoted by CNN as being briefed on the Benghazi investigation said Western intelligence services “suspect the men may have been sent by the group specifically to carry out the attack.”
CNN also quoted one source revealing that counter-terrorism officials learned the identity of the three men and later traced them to northern Mali, where they are believed to have connected with the jihad organization led by Moktar Belmoktar.
Belmoktar, an Algerian, is a senior leader of the Islamic Maghreb. He claimed responsibility for the Algeria gas facility attack in January in which 38 people were killed during a three-day siege.
Another intelligence source told CNN that Belmoktar had received a call in the aftermath of the Benghazi attack from someone in or close to the city. The person on the other end of the call stated, “Mabruk, Mabruk!” meaning “Congratulations” in Arabic, according to the source.
Meanwhile, AQAP has also been tied to the Boston bombing. AQAP is behind Inspire magazine, the periodical thought to have provided bomb-building instructions for Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the accused Boston Marathon terrorists.
Did Hillary Clinton Mislead Congress?
Did former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton mislead Congress when she testified under oath at the January Benghazi hearings that no one within the government ever recommended the closure of the U.S. facilities in the Libyan city?
In her January 23 testimony, Clinton stated: “Well, senator, I want to make clear that no one in the State Department, the intelligence community, any other agency, ever recommended that we close Benghazi. We were clear-eyed about the threats and the dangers as they were developing in eastern Libya and in Benghazi.”
Clinton was responding to a question from Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz.
However, this column has found that Lt. Col. Andrew Wood – who led the U.S. military’s efforts to supplement diplomatic security in Libya – testified that he personally recommended that the Benghazi mission be closed, according to a recently released 46-page House Republican report probing the Benghazi attacks.
Page six of the report cites security concerns with over 200 attacks in Libya, 50 of which took place in Benghazi, including against the U.S. mission there. One of those attacks was even carried out by disgruntled Libyan contract guards hired by the U.S. who allegedly threw a small improvised explosive device over the perimeter wall.
States the Republican report: “These developments caused Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Wood, who led the U.S. military’s efforts to supplement diplomatic security in Libya, to recommend that the State Department consider pulling out of Benghazi altogether.”
Continued the report: “Lieutenant Colonel Wood explained that after the withdrawal of these other organizations, ‘it was apparent to me that we were the last [Western] flag flying in Benghazi. We were the last thing on their target list to remove from Benghazi.’ ”