Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Picture of Al Qaeda Assassination Plot Emerges

by Arnold Ahlert

The Obama administration’s continuing efforts to maintain the narrative that murder of our ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens, and his three staff members was part of a “spontaneous” demonstration inspired by a “very offensive video” took another hit yesterday. The Debka File is reporting that the executions were part of a carefully orchestrated plan carried out by well-trained al-Qaeda operatives. The 20-man assassination team was given its orders by the terrorist organization’s leader, Ayman al Zawahiri. The assassins were all Libyans who had been serving sentences for terrorism under Muammar Qaddafi’s rule. They were freed when Qaddafi was overthrown.

The motive for the executions was revenge. On September 10th, Zawahiri released a 42-minute video confirming that his deputy, Abu Yahya al-Libi, was killed in a drone strike in Pakistan’s Waziristan tribal area on June 4, according to SITE and IntelCenter. Libi was a jihadst theologian who rose to prominence in 2005 after he escaped from U.S. custody in Afghanistan. Considered al-Qaeda’s best propagandist, his death reportedly dealt a major blow to the organization.

“With the martyrdom of Sheikh Abu Yahya, may Allah have mercy on him, people will flock even more to his writings and call, Allah willing,” Zawahiri said in Arabic, according to a SITE translation. In the video, titled “The Lion of Knowledge and Jihad: Martyrdom of al-Sheikh Abu Yahya al-Libi” the terror master also referenced President Obama, whom he characterized as a “liar” elected to “trick” Muslims, even as he is “being defeated in Afghanistan.” Zawahiri brought up Warren Weinstein as well. Weinstein is an elderly U.S. aid worker kidnapped by Al-Qaeda just over a year ago in Pakistan. Zawahiri vowed to hold Weinstein until the U.S. released al-Qaeda followers imprisoned in Afghanistan.

According to Debka, the release of that video was a “go” signal for the mission in Benghazi. To disguise the nature of that mission, the assassination team took advantage of the demonstrations allegedly incited by the video “Innocence of Muslims,” storming the consulate in conjunction with the protesters. The gunmen subsequently split into two groups of 10 men each, and carried out their attack in two separate stages.

The first stage involved one group firing rockets at the consulate under the assumption that ambassador Stevens’ armed guard detail would grab him, get him out of the building, and take him to a safe house where he would receive Secret Service protection. According to CBS News, that’s exactly what happened. A Libyan commander told them a convoy of 22 vehicles, two of them armored, fled the consulate, and headed down a road towards the safe house located a mile and a half away.

It was during that trip that al-Qaeda put the second phase of its plan into action. The second group of terrorists apparently knew which vehicles among the convoy contained the ambassador and his armed escort, and they set up an ambush to intercept them. As a result, Stevens and his three staff members were reportedly killed at point blank range. Debka further reports that the investigation by American counter-terror experts and other “clandestine services” is focusing on why no clues of the attack were picked up by any intelligence agency, as well as the failure of surveillance authorities to notice any preparations being made by the terrorist group.

Yet Mohammed Magarief, the president of Libya’s newly elected national congress, while agreeing with Debka’s contention that the attack was deliberate, has offered up a somewhat different take on the players involved. Magarief contends that the Benghazi militia, Ansar al-Sharia, was in communication with al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) AQIM is a group whose origin goes back to the 1990s when it was involved in the fight to overthrow Algeria’s secular government. It became AQIM in 2007. Magarief believes it was Ansar al-Sharia that carried out the attack, noting a communication they had with AQIM last Tuesday, during which they discussed the assault on the consulate that night. The attack was a “deliberate, calculated action by a group working in collaboration with non-Libyan elements,” he said in an interview. He warned that Libya remains locked in a battle with extremists who wish to turn that country into a hard-line Islamist state.

Magarief conceded that Ansar al-Sharia’s leadership was divided, but insisted members of that militia had still taken part in the assassination. The group itself has disavowed any involvement, but an eyewitness claims he saw the group’s black flag being carried by some of the attackers. He also claims he saw one man fire a rocket-propelled grenade into the consulate’s grounds, and another shooting an AK-47 at the gate of the compound.

Magarief’s assertion was buttressed by the fact that al-Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula (AQAP) celebrated the attacks over the weekend and called for more of them. ”What has happened is a great event and these efforts should come together in one goal, to expel the embassies of America from the lands of the Muslims,” AQAP said. And like Zawahiri, AQAP also linked the killing of Abu Yahya al-Libi to the attack.

According to The Austrialian, the investigation of Stevens’ murder “appears woefully slow.” They note that American drones are circling over Benghazi, but the crime scene itself has yet to be secured. Magarief revealed that, as of yesterday, FBI investigators had yet to arrive and the only arrests made so far were of four “low-level” participants.

Late yesterday afternoon Fox News, citing an “intelligence source on the ground in Libya,” also poked a hole in the administration’s “spontaneous” demonstration narrative. “There was no protest and the attacks were not spontaneous,” the source said, adding the attack “was planned and had nothing to do with the movie.” This story apparently corroborates an account published September 13th by McClatchy Newspapers. They interviewed a man who claimed to be a Libyan security guard posted at the American consulate when it came under attack. Hospitalized with shrapnel and a bullet wound arising from the conflict, the guard said the area was quiet–“there wasn’t a single ant outside” is how he put it–until about 9:30, at which point armed men stormed the compound. He further contended that there was no warning an attack was imminent.

Unfortunately, this seems to be the most accurate information garnered by American news organizations to date. The foreign media referenced above have seemingly done a far better job ferreting out the real story. Perhaps that is because last Friday, State Department spokeswoman Victorian Nuland made it clear no further information would be released by the Obama administration until the investigation is complete. “I’m going to frustrate all of you, infinitely, by telling you that now that we have an open FBI investigation on the death of these four Americans, we are not going to be in a position to talk at all about what the U.S. government may or may not be learning about how any of this this happened–not who they were, not how it happened, not what happened to Ambassador Stevens, not any of it–until the Justice Department is ready to talk about the investigation,” she told reporters. “So I’m going to send to the FBI for those kinds of questions and they’re probably not going to talk to you about it,” she added.

On the other hand, the usual media suspects can still be counted on to support the Obama administration’s effort to scapegoat a film and, by extension, filmmaker Nikoula Nikoula, for the failure of its Middle East policies. In that regard, CNN reached a new low yesterday. They not only published a picture of Nikoula, who has taken great pains to hide his identity due to death threats from Islamic terrorists, but personal information about him as well. In addition, CNN editorialized that the video itself would be “Oscar worthy, if HATEFUL were a category.”

It is within the context of this odious narrative, fostered by an administration with an almost pathological aversion to taking any responsibility whatsoever for its mistakes, that any “investigation” into the deaths of four Americans in Libya will proceed. And since there is nothing about this incident that remotely accrues to the interests of this president or his administration, Americans should expect that nothing in the way of relevant information will be disseminated before the election–if it is ever disseminated at all. On the other hand, the possibility of great irony arises: if any information reaches the public, it will likely be the result of leaks from inside the White House. An administration that has demonstrated a great appetite for “spiking the football” when it suits them deserves nothing less.

Arnold Ahlert


Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

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