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One of the rising new divisions of al-Qaida, the terror organization that has claimed credit for death and destruction around the globe, has issued a call for more attacks on U.S. interests and the sinister motive could be to apply pressure for the release of the Blind Sheikh, Omar Abdul Rahman, according to one Middle East analyst.
Rahman is serving time for a conviction of conspiracy arising from the 1993 bombing in which Islamic radials tried to bring down the World Trade Center in New York.
It was al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb that called for more attacks on U.S. interests, and Center for Security Policy Senior Fellow Clare Lopez says if the motive was to seek Rahman’s release, the evidence all adds up.
“Think about this: What if the Benghazi raid, apparently by an al-Qaida-linked group called Imprisoned Omar Abdul Rahman Brigades, really intended to kidnap, not kill, Ambassador Chris Stevens?” Lopez said. “They would use the ambassador as a bargaining chip to exchange for the release of the Blind Sheikh, Omar Abdul Rahman.
“The group previously attacked our diplomatic facilities in Benghazi, the British ambassador, and the Red Cross in Misrata. What if those people, operating in close coordination with the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood and Gama’a Islamiyya only wanted to kidnap the ambassador?” Lopez asked.
The release of Rahman already has been an objective of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi. The British newspaper, The Guardian, reported that Morsi announced the goal in a Tahrir Square speech in June.
Lopez says Stevens may have believed he was the object of a kidnapping plot because of his actions at the time of the attack.
“The ambassador’s death was determined to be from smoke inhalation. It’s reported that he refused to come out of the building while it was on fire. Could it be that he knew that he was the target of an intended kidnapping, which is why he refused to come out?” Lopez said.
“What if Ambassador Steven’s death was not actually the intended outcome of their assault, in spite of the childishly emotional celebrations as his dead body was dragged all over the place?” Lopez said.
“If this scenario is true, then al-Qaida and the Muslim Brotherhood are still out there looking for an American to kidnap and hold as a bargaining chip to trade for the Blind Sheikh,” he warned.
“Remember that this administration has refused to even admit the Benghazi attack was coordinated, planned, rehearsed,” Lopez said. “Their refusal to admit that is reprehensible because it leaves American diplomats and others unprepared for the likelihood that they remain targets for kidnapping by al-Qaida and the Muslim Brotherhood?”
Lopez believes a visit from a member of a known terrorist group is an indication that a political deal is in the works.
“You’ll recall that the Obama White House and National Security Council received Hani Nour Eldin, a top Gama’a Islamiyya operative at the White House in June 2012,” Lopez said. “Gama’a Islamiyya is on the State Department Foreign Terrorist Organization list, so Eldin wasn’t eligible to receive a visa to come to the United States unless he got a waiver.”
Politico reported in July that Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said Eldin was not a security threat.
“Napolitano told the House Homeland Security Committee Wednesday that Hani Nour Eldin, a self-professed member of a banned Egyptian militant group, was cleared by the State Department before being granted a visa,” Politico reported. “She says he was vetted by the Homeland Security Department before being allowed into the country, and scrutinized a third time by the Secret Service before he was granted access to the White House.”
Lopez believes the White House may seriously be considering Rahman’s release.
“Here’s the question: Why, if they knew ahead of time that he was coming to ask for the release of the Blind Sheikh, and that they were going to say no, would they give him a visa, receive him so openly, and talk to him at all?” Lopez said.
“Why bring him over at all if, as the Department of Justice now says, they’d decided to refuse his request?” Lopez said.
AQIM says the call for more violence is in response to the 15-minute YouTube video produced by a man who, according to reports, worked as a federal informant to avoid a longer prison term for bank fraud.
Lopez says it’s certain the movie is only a sideshow in the bigger drama.
“What we know for 100 percent sure is that it was not that horrid little film on YouTube that triggered these attacks, either Benghazi or Cairo – attacks for which there was, in any case, days of intelligence warning ahead of time,” Lopez said.
“But we can say that the witless as well as duplicitous administration response in focusing solely on this obscure, execrably amateurish film plays right into the agenda of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, working closely with the Hillary Clinton Department of State. Their goal seems to be criminalization of criticism of Islam, as per the Istanbul Process, which is the result of UN Human Rights Council Resolution 16/18,” Lopez said.
She said the resolution passed in April 2011 and if implemented, would bring U.S. law into compliance with Islamic law on slander, which is a key objective of the OIC’s 10-year program.
“So, if it’s not that, however useful as a secondary objective, what is a possibility is it was really about coercion to achieve release of the Blind Sheikh,” Lopez said.
Regardless of the motive, American Enterprise Institute’s terrorism analyst Michael Rubin says al-Qaida’s warnings should not be ignored.
“Certainly, the U.S. should take al-Qaida’s warnings seriously, but one of the problems with U.S. counterterrorism, is we’re always working to prevent the last terrorist attack,” Rubin said. “Al-Qaida isn’t going to attack us in the way we expect, but they will attack again.”
Rubin also says it’s a mistake if anyone believes al-Qaida was finished.
“Al-Qaida was down, but they’re not out. We got a boost from killing Bin Laden, but the second we announced we got him, we put an expiration date on the intelligence trove we found with him,” Rubin said.
“The operation in Libya shows that al-Qaida is far more potent than the CIA realized; some of the luster just wore off David Petraeus,” Rubin also said, referring to Obama’s appointed CIA director.
Neither the White House nor the State Department has responded to WND’s request for comment on the reports.
WND reported last week the attacks are part of a new jihadi offensive against the West and not in response to the 15-minute movie.
The attacks on the U.S. Embassy in Cairo and the consulate in Benghazi, Libya, were planned by the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafist parties to punish the West for opposing Islam, according to former PLO operative and Muslim Brotherhood member-turned-terrorism analyst Walid Shoebat.
Shoebat said translations of Arabic documents show that radical Muslims are beginning an offensive against the West.
Shoebat said, however, that the movie has become a factor in the most recent acts.
“This film is being used to create all sorts of havoc,” Shoebat said.
Press reports from last week showed that the U.S. government had at least 48 hours warning about the attacks.
The British newspaper, the Independent, reported that U.S. diplomatic officials received a warning two days before they happened.
According to senior diplomatic sources, the U.S. State Department had information 48 hours before mobs charged the consulate in Benghazi, and the embassy in Cairo that Americans may be targeted, but no warnings were given for diplomats to go on high alert and “lockdown,” under which movement is severely restricted, the Independent said.
However, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney denied reports of the advance warning.
“I have seen that report, and the story is absolutely wrong. We were not aware of any actionable intelligence indicating that an attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi was planned or imminent. That report is false,” Carney said.
The White House also maintains that the violence is in response to the YouTube video, as indicated by Press Secretary Jay Carney’s statement.
“We also need to understand that this is a fairly volatile situation and it is in response not to United States policy, not to obviously the administration, not to the American people. It is in response to a video, a film that we have judged to be reprehensible and disgusting. That in no way justifies any violent reaction to it, but this is not a case of protests directed at the United States writ large or at U.S. policy. This is in response to a video that is offensive to Muslims,” Carney said.
The suggestion for the U.S. to release the Blind Sheikh has gotten traction lately, with a report in The Blaze that there’s discussion of a humanitarian “transfer” of the mastermind of the 1993 terror attack to Egypt.
According to a report at Jihad Watch, a veteran intelligence analyst for The Blaze said he met with an Obama administration officials who said it’s being considered.
Fox News reported today that it obtained an intelligence report that before the recent attacks on U.S. assets, there was online incitement for “sons of Egypt” to pressure the U.S. to release Rahman, even if it involved burning down the embassy.
The suggestion for Rahman’s release, however, goes back months, as National Review noted al-Arabiya reported last winter that Obama was offering to release Rahman in exchange for 16 American “civil-society activists” who were detained in Egypt.
Those included the son of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. They later were allowed to leave Egypt.