JERUSALEM – In her Benghazi testimony Thursday, Hillary Clinton may have exposed a major failing of the CIA when she revealed the agency vetted the February 17 Martyrs Brigade, which served as the armed guard contingent to the ill-fated U.S. special mission.
In a hearing of the House Select Committee on Benghazi, Clinton divulged that “the February 17th militia was viewed by the CIA, which had vetted it, as well as by our diplomats, as a reliable source for kinetic support.”
“Sometimes it worked, and sometimes it didn’t. And the static support proved to be not very useful at all on that night,” she said.
The February 17 Martyrs Brigade is an Islamic militia group that became one of the most well-armed militias in Libya. It took up arms in the 2011 revolution that overthrew Moammar Gadhafi and has been backed by the Libyan Transitional Government.
The brigade is made up of at least 12 battalions, some of whom defected to form Ansar al-Sharia, the al-Qaida-inspired Islamic group that advocates for the implementation of Islamic law in Libya and beyond.
After the Sept. 11, 2012, attack, the U.S. State Department declared Ansar al-Sharia a terrorist organization, and the group was implicated in the attack.
According to the State Department-sanctioned Accountability Review Board, the gunmen the night of the attack “appear to have used filled fuel cans that were stored next to new, uninstalled generators at the February 17 living quarters near the C1 entrance to burn that building.”
That’s how the U.S. special mission compound was set ablaze.
Yet Clinton was not asked yesterday whether there is information indicating the February 17 militia deliberately left the fuel cans there.
Also, the intruders were said to have inside knowledge of the layout of the U.S. Benghazi compound, including the precise location of a secret safe room where Ambassador Chris Stevens was later holed up.
However, Clinton was not asked whether she knows or believes the February 17 militia provided the attackers with critical insider information.