NEW YORK – A member of the independent Citizens’ Commission on Benghazi believes the Obama administration positioned arms dealer Marc Turi to take the fall for illicit arms deals to Libya orchestrated in 2011 by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the State Department.
The Justice Department has charged Turi with lying on an export-license application, alleging he hid his intent to ship weapons and ammunition to Libya in direct violation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 170. The Feb. 26, 2011, resolution imposed an arms embargo on all member states to prevent “the immediate prospect” of a Gadhafi-led attempt “to slaughter rebel forces in Benghazi that would likely result in massive civilian casualties.”
“We have ample evidence the Libyan gun-running operation was a White House operation and that the State Department under Hillary Clinton ran the show,” said Clare Lopez, a member of the Citizens’ Commission who served as a career operations officer with the CIA and is currently vice president for research at the Washington-based Center for Security Policy.
Lopez made it clear she was speaking for herself and not for the commission.
The Citizens Commission on Benghazi is a group of 17 retired admirals and generals, former intelligence agents, counter-terrorism experts, media specialists and former members of Congress organized in 2013 by Roger Aronoff, editor of Accuracy in Media. The founding members are retired U.S. Navy Adm. James Lyons and retired U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Paul Vallely.
The commission has been working behind the scenes for the past two years to ensure Congress uncovers what really happened in the Sept. 11, 2012, attack in Benghazi that killed U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.
As WND reported Thursday, defense filings in the Department of Justice prosecution of Turi allege the Obama administration is willing to prosecute an innocent man to cover up the role Hillary Clinton played shipping weapons to Libya.
Lopez told WND the “key point is that Marc Turi, despite receiving written approval from the U.S. government to broker weapons to Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, never actually went through any weapons purchases or shipments to Qatar, to the UAE or to Libya.”
She pointed to the Citizens’ Commission’s April 2014 interim report, which concluded it was Clinton’s State Department that was shipping the guns to Libya.
“Marc Turi was set up and framed for something he didn’t do, while others, who actually did collaborate with Qatar and the UAE to deliver the weapons under U.S. and NATO protection and supervision, are not only not prosecuted like Marc Turi, they’re not even mentioned,” Lopez said.
The official story
On Dec. 5, 2012, New York Times reporters James Risen, Mark Mazetti and Michael Schmidt, without citing a source, clearly implicated Turi as the arms dealer at the center of the 2011 redirection of weapons from Qatar that was interdicted by Libya and shown to world media by then-Gadhafi officials spokesman Moussa Ibrahim, as reported by WND.
In their article, titled “U.S.-Approved Arms for Libya Rebels Fell Into Jihadis’ Hands,” they wrote: “The Obama administration secretly gave its blessing to Libyan rebels from Qatar last year, but American officials later grew alarmed as evidence grew that Qatar was turning some of the weapons over to Islamic militants, according to United States officials and foreign diplomats.”
The Times story said the “case of Marc Turi, the American arms merchant who had sought to provide weapons to Libya, demonstrates other challenges the United States faced in dealing with Libya.”
“A dealer who lives in both Arizona and Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates, Mr. Turi sells small arms to buyers in the Middle East and Africa, relying primarily on suppliers of Russian-designed weapons in Eastern Europe,” the Times said.
From there, the Times account of Turi’s involvement in the Qatar-Libya arms deal bears close resemblance to the “statement of facts” provided the U.S. District Court in Arizona in the Turi criminal indictment brought by the U.S. Attorney’s office in Phoenix.
“In March 2011, just as the Libyan civil war was intensifying, Mr. Turi realized that Libya could be a lucrative new market, and applied to the State Department for a license to provide weapons to the rebels there, according to e-mails and other documents he has provided,” the Times article continued.
The newspaper noted American citizens are required to obtain U.S. approval for any international arms sales.
“Mr. Turi’s application for a license was rejected in late March 2011,” the Times reported. “Undeterred, he applied again, this time stating only that he planned to ship arms worth more than $200 million to Qatar.”
Then, the newspaper reported that in May 2011, Turi’s application was approved.
“Mr. Turi, in an interview, said that his intent was to get weapons to Qatar and that what ‘the U.S. government and Qatar allowed from there was between them.’ Two months later, though, his home near Phoenix was raided by agents from the Department of Homeland Security.”
The Times reported administration officials said he remained under investigation in connection with his arms dealings.
The Justice Department would not comment, the Times said.
The paper said: “Mr. Turi said he believed that United States officials had shut down his proposed arms pipeline because he was getting in the way of the Obama administration’s dealings with Qatar. The Qataris, he complained, imposed no controls on who got the weapons. ‘They just handed them out like candy, he said.”
As WND reported, Fox News analysts Andrew Napolitano, in a nationally syndicated column published July 1, said an interview with Turi conducted by Fox News intelligence correspondent Catherine Herridge and Fox News Senior Executive Producer Pamela Browne led him to review emails to and from State Department and congressional officials sent when Hillary Clinton was secretary of state.
The correspondence caused him to conclude “beyond a reasonable doubt and to a moral certainty” that Hillary had conducted a “secret war” shipping arms to Libya illegally in 2011.
The Fox News interview also convinced Napolitano, perhaps erroneously, that that the weapons Clinton shipped illegally to Libya were the weapons Turi shipped to Qatar, knowing that they were intended not for the use of the Qatar army but to be diverted to Libya for use by the al-Qaida-affiliated militia attempting to overthrow Gadhafi.
Herridge and Browne, in a Fox Business News article published June 27, detailed the interview with Turi.
“In the spring of 2011, Turi says his high level contacts both inside and outside of the US government, encouraged him to explore options to arm the Libyan opposition as they tried to overthrow then Libyan dictator Moammar Qaddafi,” Herridge and Browne reported.
“Turi said, ‘That’s where I came up with this “zero footprint’ Arab supply chain whereby, our foreign ally supplies another, Arab country,'” Herridge and Browne continued. “In this case, the US would supply conventional weapons to a US ally-Qatar, who would in turn supply them to Libya, as a kind of workaround.”
Herridge and Brown concluded by quoting Turi saying, “If you want to limit the exposure to the US government, what you simply do is outsource it to your allies.”
Turi said the partners – the Qataris and the Emiratis – “did exactly what they were contracted to do.”
Napolitano perhaps overlooked the next sentence in which Herridge and Browne reported Turi told them he never supplied any weapons to Qatar but that the weapons supplied to Libya were in the hands of the U.S. government and the State Department’s Bureau of Political and Military Affairs, headed by key Hillary Clinton aide Andrew Shapiro.
Shapiro was responsible to oversee the export control process at the State Department.
The Citizens’ Commission on Benghazi. in its interim report issued on April 22, 2014, added another twist to the story.
The report said an American citizen source “trusted by the CCB who has long experience in the Middle East described the flow of weapons from Qatar to the Libyan rebels and the diversion of some of those arms.”
The report explained that after Gadhafi’s regime had been ousted, a delegation from the United Arab Emirates traveled to Libya to collect payment for the weapons the UAE had financed and Qatar had delivered to the Transitional National Council during the war.
“The UAE delegation was seeking $1 billion it claimed was owed,” the report said. “During their visit to Tripoli, the UAE officials discovered that half of the $1 billion worth of weapons it had financed for the rebels had, in fact, been diverted by Mustafa Abdul Jalil, the Muslim Brotherhood head of the Libyan TNC, and sold to Qaddafi.”
The report said that “according to information learned during the UAE visit to Tripoli, when Jalil learned that Major General Abdel Fatah Younis, Qaddafi’s former Minister of the Interior before his late February 2011 defection to the rebel forces, had found out about the weapons diversion, he ordered Abu Salim Abu Khattala, leader of the Abu Obeida Bin al-Jarrah brigade to kill him.”
Abu Khattala, later identified as the Ansar al- Shariah commander who led the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, accepted the orders and directed the killing of Gen. Younis in July 2011, the report said.
“The key significance of this episode is the demonstration of a military chain-of-command relationship between the Libyan Muslim Brotherhood leadership of the TNC and the al-Qaida-affiliated militia (Ansar al-Shariah) that has been named responsible for the attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi,” the CCB report concluded.
“Abu Khattala is under a Department of Justice sealed indictment. His brigade merged into Ansar al-Shariah in 2012, and he was positively identified to the FBI in a cellphone photo from the scene of the attack, yet remains free and available for interviews to the media.”