TEL AVIV – 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-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP, one of the most deadly members of the al-Qaida conglomerate. AQAP previously attempted several major attacks within the U.S.
The group was the first al-Qaida 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-Qaida operatives.
AQAP did not directly claim responsibility for the Benghazi attacks.
Al-Libi, of Libyan descent, was believed to have been killed in Pakistan in June 2012.
Lost in the news media coverage about the U.S. response to the Libya attacks was that one day before the assaults, on Sept. 10, 2012, al-Qaida 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 the killing of al- Libi.
“His blood urges you and incites you to fight and kill the crusaders,” he said.
Last week, CNN quoted sources disclosing 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-Qaida 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.”
“But it’s not been ruled out that they were already in the city and participated as the opportunity arose,” continued the CNN report.
CNN further quoted one source revealing 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.
Boston bombing link
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.
AQAP previously attempted attacks on U.S. soil. One such attempt was the 2009 Christmas Day plot by a Nigerian recruited by the group to blow up a plane flying into Detroit. That attack failed when the suspect’s device malfunctioned.
In October 2010, AQAP reportedly attempted to blow up planes destined for the U.S. using printer bombs disguised as air cargo. The plan was thwarted after a tip from Saudi intelligence.
In April 2012 it was reported that a British informant working for Saudi counter-terrorism thwarted an AQAP plot to bomb a U.S-bound airliner.