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September 26, 2012

Who Killed Ambassador Stevens?

"Reaction should have been, if it was genuine, should have been six months earlier. So it was postponed until the 11th of September. They chose this date, 11th of September to carry a certain message."
Mohamed Magarief, with Ann Curry

President Mohamed Magarief of Libya knows without a doubt that the movie "Innocence of Muslims," produced by Egyptian immigrant to the United States, Noukala Basseley Noukala, had "nothing to do with" a deadly attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi. 

According to NBC News:
Magarief said there were no protesters at the site before the attack, which he noted came in two assaults, first with rocket-propelled grenades on the consulate, then with mortars at a safe house....Magarief told [NBC News' Ann] Curry that based on the accuracy of the assault, he believes the attackers must have had training and experience using the weapons.
Although U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice initially claimed the attack to have been inspired by the cheap, poorly made movie, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney last week said it was "self-evident that what happened in Benghazi was a terrorist attack."

National Counterterrorism Center Director Matthew Glen Olsen, a 1988 Harvard Law School graduate (completing his legal studies just months before Obama entered Harvard Law), who previously served as general counsel for the National Security Agency, said the perpetrators were likely an offshoot of al-Qaida, similar to its North African branch-- al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb--which
has been among the beneficiaries of the shift in power from Al Qaeda’s central leadership in Pakistan to its far-flung affiliates across the Middle East and Africa. This shift was likely accelerated by the killing in Pakistan in June 2012 of Abu Yahya al-Lib, the deputy to Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri, by an American drone strike. 
After two figures who reportedly replaced Osama bin Ladin were recently killed by drone attacks--Ayman al-Zawahri, an Egyptian surgeon, and Abu Yahya al-Libi , Qaeda commander who became Mr. Zawahri’s deputy after Bin Laden’s death in in 2011--it was predicted that increased violence would occur. 

New Muslim Groups Taking Over?

According to Eric Schmitt's excellent analysis published on June 7, 2012 in the New York Times, it was expected that younger, more impetuous fighters would vie to seize the mantle of global leadership, and he predicted the most likely group to present itself would be:
  • the affiliate in Yemen, formally known as Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, or A.Q.A.P., who three times in the last three years have tried unsuccessfully to blow up commercial airliners bound for the United States. The most recent plot was thwarted last month when the suicide bomber turned out to be simultaneously working for the Saudi, British and American intelligence agencies. .
Schmitt continuing by saying "Al Qaeda’s wings in Yemen, North Africa and even Iraq have had little difficulty sustaining a wave of violence, a trend that is likely to continue well after Mr. Libi’s death, officials said." He then detailed a list of possible groups where violence may erupt:
Somali group, Shabab

Islamic Maghreb

Boko Haram member

    Nasser al-Wuhayshi
  •  In Iraq a few hundred "Sunni extremists" said to have ties to Al Qaeda’s branch were likely responsible for at least some of the major bombings against the government of Bashar al-Assad in Syria. 

More Confident U.S. Leadership?

There is certainly no shortage of suspects of outside groups which may have been active in Libya. What is somewhat comforting to westerners, however, is the fact that the U.S. State Department and its consultants, whoever they are, seem to be much more knowledgeable than the previous Republican administration about these Muslim groups working to thwart attempts by a segment of the population within these areas in the Middle East wishing to depart from theocratic control of their governments.

Although it didn't happen instantly, it seems that American officials are getting around to realizing what really occurred in Libya. Eli Lake of The Daily Beast reported earlier this morning:
The intelligence officials who spoke to The Daily Beast did so anonymously because they weren’t authorized to speak to the press. They said U.S. intelligence agencies developed leads on four of the participants of the attacks within 24 hours of the fire fight that took place mainly at an annex near the Benghazi consulate. For one of those individuals, the U.S. agencies were able to find his location after his use of social media. “We had two kinds of intelligence on one guy,” this official said. “We believe we had enough to target him.”

Another U.S. intelligence official said, “There was very good information on this in the first 24 hours. These guys have a return address. There are camps of people and a wide variety of things we could do.” ...
The Daily Beast reported last week that the U.S. intelligence community was studying an intercept between a Libyan politician and a member of the so-called February 17 militia, Libyans charged with providing security for the U.S. consulate in Benghazi. More intelligence has come in that shows members of Ansar al-Sharia, an al Qaeda–affiliated group operating in and around Benghazi, were attempting to coerce, threaten, cajole, and bribe members of the militia protecting the consulate.
Reuters issued a report this week stating that the government in Libya 
"placed two powerful freelance units in the city under the command of full-time army officers on Monday. Commanders of two units which have, with official sanction, been providing security since the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi were ordered removed and the men of the February 17 Brigade and Rafallah al-Sahati militia put under army orders. A third unit, Libya's Shield, would also change leadership, an official said."
The Associated Press disclosed last weekend:
On Friday evening, hundreds of protesters angry over last week's killing of the U.S. ambassador to Libya stormed the compound of the Islamic extremist Ansar al-Shariah Brigade militia suspected in the attack, evicting militiamen and setting fire to their building. After taking over the Ansar compound, protesters then drove to attack the Benghazi headquarters of Rafallah Sahati where militiamen opened fire on the protesters, who were largely unarmed, leaving at least 20 wounded, and several killed according to hospital sources. 

Photo: Mohammad Hannon / AP

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