The British Independent today delivered the inside story on the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi and the murder of Ambassador Stevens.
According to senior diplomatic sources, the US State Department had credible information 48 hours before mobs charged the consulate in Benghazi, and the embassy in Cairo, that American missions may be targeted, but no warnings were given for diplomats to go on high alert and “lockdown”, under which movement is severely restricted. …
Eight Americans, some from the military, were wounded in the attack which claimed the lives of Mr Stevens, Sean Smith, an information officer, and two US Marines. …
Senior officials are increasingly convinced, however, that the ferocious nature of the Benghazi attack, in which rocket-propelled grenades were used, indicated it was not the result of spontaneous anger due to the video, called Innocence of Muslims. Patrick Kennedy, Under-Secretary at the State Department, said he was convinced the assault was planned due to its extensive nature and the proliferation of weapons.
There is growing belief that the attack was in revenge for the killing in a drone strike in Pakistan of Mohammed Hassan Qaed, an al-Qa’ida operative who was, as his nom-de-guerre Abu Yahya al-Libi suggests, from Libya, and timed for the anniversary of the 11 September attacks. …
According to security sources the consulate had been given a “health check” in preparation for any violence connected to the 9/11 anniversary. In the event, the perimeter was breached within 15 minutes of an angry crowd starting to attack it at around 10pm on Tuesday night. There was, according to witnesses, little defence put up by the 30 or more local guards meant to protect the staff. Ali Fetori, a 59-year-old accountant who lives near by, said: “The security people just all ran away and the people in charge were the young men with guns and bombs.”
Wissam Buhmeid, the commander of the Tripoli government-sanctioned Libya’s Shield Brigade, effectively a police force for Benghazi, maintained that it was anger over the Mohamed video which made the guards abandon their post. “There were definitely people from the security forces who let the attack happen because they were themselves offended by the film; they would absolutely put their loyalty to the Prophet over the consulate. The deaths are all nothing compared to insulting the Prophet.”
Mr Stevens, it is believed, was left in the building by the rest of the staff after they failed to find him in dense smoke caused by a blaze which had engulfed the building. He was discovered lying unconscious by local people and taken to a hospital, the Benghazi Medical Centre, where, according to a doctor, Ziad Abu Ziad, he died from smoke inhalation.
An eight-strong American rescue team was sent from Tripoli and taken by troops under Captain Fathi al- Obeidi, of the February 17 Brigade, to the secret safe house to extract around 40 US staff. The building then came under fire from heavy weapons. “I don’t know how they found the place to carry out the attack. It was planned, the accuracy with which the mortars hit us was too good for any ordinary revolutionaries,” said Captain Obeidi. “It began to rain down on us, about six mortars fell directly on the path to the villa.”
Libyan reinforcements eventually arrived, and the attack ended. News had arrived of Mr Stevens, and his body was picked up from the hospital and taken back to Tripoli with the other dead and the survivors.
Mossad-mouthpiece DebkaFile adds a few details.
Debkafileâ€™s counter-terror sources report exclusively that far from being a spontaneous raid by angry Islamists, it was a professionally executed terrorist operation by a professional Al Qaeda assassination team, whose 20 members acted under the orders of their leader Ayman al Zawahri after special training. They were all Libyans, freed last year from prisons where they were serving sentences for terrorism passed during the late Muammar Qaddafiâ€™s rule.
In a video tape released a few hours before the attack, Zawahri called on the faithful to take revenge on the United States for liquidating one of the organizationâ€™s top operatives, Libyan-born Abu Yahya al-Libi in June by a US drone in northwestern Pakistan.
Its release was the â€œgoâ€ signal for the hit team to attack the US diplomats in Benghazi. …
The operation is rated by terror experts as the most ambitious outrage al Qaeda has pulled off in the last decade. According to our sources, the gunmen split into two groups of 10 each and struck in two stages:
1. They first fired rockets at the consulate building on the assumption that the ambassadorâ€™s bodyguards would grab him, race him out of the building and drive him to a safe place under the protection of the US secret service;
2. The second group was able to identify the getaway vehicle and the ambassadorâ€™s armed escort and lay in wait to ambush them. The gunmen then closed in and killed the ambassador and his bodyguards at point blank range.
Debkafileâ€™s intelligence sources report that the investigation launched by US counter-terror and clandestine services is focusing on finding out why no clue was picked up of the coming attack by any intelligence body and how al Qaedaâ€™s preparations for the attack which took place inside Libya went unnoticed by any surveillance authority.
Eleven years after 9/11, al Qaeda clearly retains the ability to plan and execute international operations striking at American citizens and officials.
The success of the attack on the consulate in Benghazi, and the obviously coordinated embassy attacks in Cairo and Yemen, do seem to confirm the validity of complaints from critics of the Obama Administration that the administration’s rush to cash in on the PR results of the success of the raid that killed Osama bin Ladin wasted priceless opportunities to exploit captured intelligence, and leaks from somewhere in the Obama Administration really did do serious harm to American interests.
Now we also learn that, despite specific known threats and with the anniversary date of 9/11 looming, the Obama Administration and its State Department failed to warn Ambassador Stevens and failed to take steps to protect embassies and American diplomatic personnel.