The attack Sept. 11, 2012, attack that killed the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans took place one day after al-Qaida chief Ayman al-Zawahiri called for retaliation for a U.S. drone strike that killed a top Libyan al-Qaida leader.
WND reported Nov. 4, 2012, that the Benghazi terrorist attack was organized by Libyan terrorist groups in response to Zawahiri’s request to avenge the U.S. drone killing in Pakistan’s Waziristan tribal area on June 4, 2012, of Libyan al-Qaida leader Abu Yahya al-Libi.
The New York Times reported Libi had a $1 million bounty on his head and was “a virtual ambassador for global jihad” who used frequent video appearances to boast of his escape from a U.S. military detention center at Bagram Air Base outside Kabul, Afghanistan, in 2005.
Internationally, news sources noted that Libi was considered a global propaganda mastermind and that his death represented the greatest blow to al-Qaida since U.S. Navy SEALs killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan in May 2011.
In August 2011, a CIA drone strike killed Libi’s predecessor, Atiyah Abd al-Rahman, also a Libyan. At the time of his death, Rahman was acting as al-Qaida chief of operations.
Despite the video in which Zawahiri called for retaliatory attacks on U.S. facilities in the Middle East, the U.S. State Department and the CIA appear to have been caught flat-footed and unprepared for the Benghazi attack.
WND reported Monday the personal effects of Stevens are in the possession of an Islamic terrorist currently at large in Libya, according to WND’s Libyan exile sources.
‘The Lion of Knowledge and Jihad’
The Zawahiri video released to coincide with the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks was his 13th statement in 2012, titled “The Lion of Knowledge and Jihad: Martyrdom of al-Sheikh Abu Yaha al-Libi. The 42-minute video confirmed Libi was killed in a drone strike in Pakistan’s Waziristan tribal area on June 4, 2012, and called for revenge attacks, especially in Libya.
On Sept. 15, 2012, an Agence France-Presse report cited al-Qaida claims that the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi was in revenge for the killing of Libi, according to monitoring by the Search for International Terrorist Entities (SITE) Intelligence Group.
“The killing of Sheikh Abu Yahya only increased the enthusiasm and determination of the sons of (Libyan independence hero) Omar al-Mokhtar to take revenge upon those who attack our Prophet,” said Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula in a statement quoted by SITE.
The AFP report, published by the Tribune in Pakistan, quoted Mohammad al-Megaryef, the head of Libya’s national assembly, who said the attack on the U.S. facility in Benghazi was planned and “meticulously executed.”
Al-Qaida leader calls for revenge
On Sept. 11, 2012, the day of the Benghazi attack, Rob Crilly, reporting from Islamabad, Pakistan, for the Telegraph of London, published a clip from the 42-minute video Zawahiri video, which was released during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan to coincide with the 9/11 attacks.
“I proudly announce to the Muslim uuma and to the Mujahideen … the news of the martyrdom of the lion of Libya Sheik Hassan Mohammed Qaed,” Zawahiri said in the video, referring to Libi by his birth name, rather than his nom de guerre.
The public record shows that after Zawahiri’s video was released calling for revenge, several attacks were on-going in the hours before the Benghazi attack, which began around 9:45 p.m. local time.
U.S. under attack
In his testimony before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee in Washington last week, Gregory Hicks, former deputy chief of mission to Libya, made clear he sent a text message to Ambassador Chris Stevens in Benghazi early in the day on Sept. 11, 2012, warning Stevens that the U.S. Embassy in Cairo was under attack.
“As I remember, Sept. 11, 2012, it was a routine day at our embassy, and until we saw the news about Cairo – and I remember sending a text message to Ambassador Stevens saying, ‘Chris, are you aware of what’s going on in Cairo?’ and he said ‘No,’” Hicks testified. “So I told him that the embassy – in another text – that the embassy had been stormed, and they were trying to tear down our flag. And he said, ‘Thanks very much.’ And, you know, then I went on with business.”
Hicks’ testimony suggests that the State Department had not made him aware of a possible connection between the attack on the U.S. Embassy in Cairo and the Zawahiri video calling for revenge.
Yet in the week of the attack, anti-U.S. demonstrations and riots broke out against in Tunisia outside the U.S. Embassy as well as in Yemen, Pakistan, Jordan and India.
‘The Innocence of Muslims’
On Sept. 13, 2012, the New York Times published a report datelined Sana, Yemen, that echoed the Obama administration narrative: “Deadly outrage in the Arab world over an American-made video insulting Islam’s founder spread to at least half a dozen places across the Middle East on Thursday and threatened to draw in Afghanistan, two days after assailants in Libya killed four American diplomatic personnel, including the ambassador, and caused a foreign policy clash in the United States.”
The film in question was a crudely produced 14-minute “trailer” called “The Innocence of Muslims,” made by Egyptian-born Coptic Christian Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, a U.S. resident. The trailer was dubbed into Arabic and posted on YouTube in September 2012.
An article published in a New York Times online blog by Robert Mackay and Liam Stack on Sept. 11, 2012, hours before the Benghazi attack, with the title, “Obscure Film Mocking Muslim Prophet Sparks Anti-U.S. Protests in Egypt and Libya” featured the offensive film trailer.
The U.S. Embassy in Cairo tweeted a curious response to the Mackay/Stack piece, posted at 5:29 p.m., Sept. 11, 2012, also hours before the Benghazi attack curiously read: “Sorry, but neither breaches of our compound or angry messages will dissuade us from defending freedom of speech AND criticizing bigotry.”
The Wall Street Journal on Sept. 12, 2012, in an article authored by Matt Bradley and Dion Nissenbaum, entitled “U.S. Missions Stormed in Libya, Egypt,” advanced the Obama administration narrative in the wake of the Benghazi attack, with the article apparently written before the news fully broke that Ambassador Stevens and three other Americans had died in the attack
“In Benghazi, Libya, several gunmen from an Islamic group, Ansar al Sharia, attacked the consulate with rocket-propelled grenades to protest the film, a deputy interior minister for the Benghazi region told the Al-Jazeera network,” the Wall Street Journal article read. “A government brigade evacuated the consulate, after which militants set it on fire, said the minister, Wanees Sharef. One State Department officer was killed in the attack on Benghazi, Secretary of State Clinton said.”
A terrorist attack ‘from the get-go’
By Sept. 12, 2012, problems with the narrative blaming the Benghazi attack on the anti-Islamic movie began to surface once reporters learned video of the attack showed well-armed Islamic assailants besieging the CIA compound.
Hicks told the House panel last week that the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli immediately realized the attack in Benghazi was an organized terrorist attack, not a protest against the movie trailer.
Hicks testified the last words he heard Ambassador Stevens speak, via telephone, was: “Greg, we are under attack.”
In his pre-testimony interviews with the staff of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Hicks said everyone in the U.S. mission in Benghazi thought the attack was an act of terror “from the get-go.”.
Hicks was asked: “Did you ever have any indication that there was a protest, a popular protest, outside the mission in Benghazi?”
Hicks responded, “No.”
He added that for there “to have been a demonstration on Chris Stevens’ front door and him to not have reported it is unbelievable.”
Libyan al-Qaida led Benghazi attack
WND reported in October that Abdul Hakem Belhaj, the head of al-Qaida in Libya, led the Benghazi attack with the backing of Mohammad Abdullah Aqil, the wealthy owner of a Mercedes car dealership in Tripoli who is reputed to be a principal funder of al-Qaida in Libya.
Under Muammar Gadhafi’s rule, Aqil worked with Abdullah Sanusi of Gadhafi’s secret service, providing the financing to implement logistics that were aimed to carry out assassinations of anti-Gaddhafi Libyan expatriates living in France, Lebanon, Egypt and Greece.
After falling out of favor with Gadhafi, Aqil was put in prison for six months, during which time he turned against Gadhafi.
After Gadhafi was killed, Aqil began working closely in Libya with Abdul Hakem Belhaj, the chief al-Qaida operative that reliable Libyan expatriate sources have identified to WND as the person most responsible for organizing and directing the terrorist attack that killed Stevens.
In 1992, after the Mujahideen took Kabul, Belhaj traveled across the Middle East and Eastern Europe, before returning to Libya to form the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), which failed to overthrow Gadhafi in two decades of fighting.
When President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton expressed support for the Libyan revolution and engaged with NATO in military action against Libyan military forces loyal to Gadhafi, Belhaj became the leader of the Misrata revolutionaries who ultimately captured Tripoli and ousted Gadhafi.
After Gadhafi was deposed and murdered, Aqil reportedly applied his wealth to assisting Belhaj in supplying vehicles and military equipment for Libyan revolutionaries and al-Qaida terrorists opposed to the regime imposed on Libya by the U.S. and NATO.
Ian Black, Middle East editor for the Guardian of London, in an article titled “The Libyan Islamic Fighting Group – from al-Qaida to the Arab Spring,” published a year before the Benghazi attack, named Belhaj as the “most prominent” person in the Benghazi-based Libyan rebel movement and the commander of the Tripoli military council that spearheaded an attack on the Gadhafi compound in October 2011.
“Belhaj, better known in the jihadi world as Abu Abdullah al-Sadiq, was released with 200 other LIFG leaders or suspected members from Tripoli’s notorious Abu Salim prison after the group collectively recanted and severed its ties with al-Qaida, saying that ‘indiscriminate bombings’ and the ‘targeting of civilians’ were not in accordance with its objectives,” Black wrote.
Black also noted that Belhaj’s radical past and his ties to al-Qaida had been the focus of British MI6 intelligence gathering efforts for the past 20 years.