Obama official: Yes, Benghazi was a terrorist attack and there are “indications” Al Qaeda was involved; Update: Ringleader released from Gitmo in 2007?

posted at 7:31 pm on September 19, 2012 by Allahpundit

So here’s where we’re at after a week of inane White House spin. Until yesterday, the official line was that this attack — which involved heavy weapons — just might have been a spontaneous protest over the Mohammed YouTube video that got way, way out of control. Certainly it wasn’t anything organized or foreseeable or else the Foreign Policy President would have been on it. Then, yesterday, Carney finally bowed to reality and acknowledged that bona fide terrorists might have exploited a protest to launch an attack. Still spontaneous, though. Nothing pre-planned.

We’re still on that talking point as of 6 p.m., but now there’s a lot more meat on the bone with respect to who those bona fide terrorists might be. I figure by late Thursday or early Friday, they’ll finally go the whole nine yards and admit that, yeah, the people responsible might have had a thought or two about doing something like this before they acted.

“I would say yes, they were killed in the course of a terrorist attack on our embassy,” Matt Olsen, the director of the National Counterterrorism Center, said Wednesday at a hearing of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, in response to questioning from Chairman Joe Lieberman (I-CT) about the attack that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans…

“We are looking at indications that individuals involved in the attack may have had connections to al Qaeda or al Qaeda’s affiliates; in particular, al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb,” he said.

The U.S. government just isn’t sure yet whether the terrorist attack was pre-planned or whether it was an example of terrorists taking advantage of protests against an anti-Islam film, Olsen said.

“It appears that individuals who were certainly well-armed seized on the opportunity presented as the events unfolded that evening and into the morning hours of September 12th. We do know that a number of militants in the area, as I mentioned, are well-armed and maintain those arms. What we don’t have at this point is specific intelligence that there was a significant advanced planning or coordination for this attack,” he said.

Question: Why are we still focused on the question of whether the attack was “pre-planned” or “spontaneous” if we have good reason to think Al Qaeda was involved? It’s not like U.S. intelligence didn’t know that there are expert jihadis in the area; on the contrary, Benghazi is one of the jihadi-est places on Earth and has been so for years. Whether a group of mujahedeen sketched out an assault on the consulate in advance or whether they got wind of the protest and raced down to the building with guns blazing, the point here is that (a) there are a lot of them in the area, (b) they have plenty of weapons, (c) both of those facts are well known to the CIA and State Department, and yet (d) the consulate was nonetheless left without any serious security. Try to wrap your mind around the fact that Obama and his State Department left the building so vulnerable that it’s actually possible that a spontaneous attack from Al Qaeda was able to breach the walls and take the life of the U.S. ambassador. The White House is trying to use this somehow as a point in its own defense. Why?

Here’s something else inane, as noted by RNC research director Joe Pounder. Remember when the State Department said it would no longer be fielding questions about the Benghazi attack? Guess who Carney is now deferring to with respect to questions directed at the White House:

Tapper followed up: “Who made the decision that there should not be any Marines at our diplomatic posts in Libya? More than half of our diplomatic posts have Marines. I understand they’re not there to protect people. They’re there to protect classified data but it doesn’t hurt to have them there. Who made the decision?”

Carney responded: “I think security at diplomatic facilities is overseen by and run by the State Department, so I’d refer you to them about how decisions are made and what the allocation of resources was in Benghazi and elsewhere. I think they’re the best people to answer that question.”

If you want to know what happened at Benghazi, ask State. But State won’t talk about it, so ask the FBI. But the FBI can’t talk about it because it’s an ongoing investigation. Perfection.

Update: Now that there’s a “blame Bush” angle to this story, maybe the White House can finally admit that, yes, this whole thing was orchestrated by a hardened jihadi capo.

Sufyan Ben Qumu is thought to have been involved and even may have led the attack, Fox News’ intelligence sources said. Qumu, a Libyan, was released from the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in 2007 and transferred into Libyan custody on the condition he be kept in jail. His Guantanamo files also show he has ties to the financiers behind the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Here’s an NYT story on Qumu from 2011, back when he was a “freedom fighter” helping the United States and its western allies to oust Qaddafi.

He was a tank driver in the Libyan Army in the 1980s, when the Central Intelligence Agency was spending billions to support religious militants trying to drive Soviet troops out of Afghanistan. Mr. Qumu moved to Afghanistan in the early 1990s, just as Osama bin Laden and other former mujahedeen were violently turning against their former benefactor, the United States.

He was captured in Pakistan after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, accused of being a member of the militant Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, and sent to Guantánamo — in part because of information provided by Colonel Qaddafi’s government.

“The Libyan Government considers detainee a ‘dangerous man with no qualms about committing terrorist acts,’ ” says the classified 2005 assessment, evidently quoting Libyan intelligence findings, which was obtained by The New York Times.

Very much worth noting, though: Counterterror expert Aaron Zelin seems to think this is a case of mistaken identity. Qumu’s group is Ansar al-Sharia, based in Dernah. The group suspected in the consulate attack is Katibah Ansar al-Sharia, based in Benghazi. Someone may have heard “Ansar al-Sharia” and made the assumption that it was Qumu’s group, not the Benghazi one, that led the assault. Just something to note as reporters begin to chase this angle.

Update: Careless error on my part: I misidentified Joe Pounder in the post above. Now corrected. Sorry about that.



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I wonder what our intelligence agencies knew of Qumu’s whereabouts in Libya. And did nothing.

Philly on September 19, 2012 at 8:35 PM

Shut the front door. As spontaneous as OWS?

HornetSting on September 19, 2012 at 8:38 PM

Wow. Lead story on Drudge. Two of the murdered former SEALS were not part of the security detail protecting Stevens, but were contractors with security-related tasks. They stepped up when the attack occurred and were killed when they voluntarily took up arms to defend the staff.

http://www.washingtonguardian.com/revising-libya-story

Philly on September 19, 2012 at 8:21 PM

Navy SEALs, even former ones under contract, as these two heroes apparently were, do not do VIP protection but, there’s no question they’d do whatever they could to protect Americans under attack and however that circumstance presented itself.

On the other hand, they were there for some purpose that their employer/contractor had assigned them pursuant to its contract with State, CIA, or other Agency. I’ve heard they were on assignment to attempt to determine whether weapons provided by us during Obama’s self-declared war against Libya leadership had gotten into AQ hands. If so, they and the Ambassador may well have been killed by those same weapons. Congress needs to get on this ASAP.

TXUS on September 19, 2012 at 8:40 PM

And did nothing.

Philly on September 19, 2012 at 8:35 PM

Empty Chair Foreign Policy

OTTO on September 19, 2012 at 8:41 PM

Happy Nomad on September 19, 2012 at 8:24 PM

Rice is just the Ambassador to the UN, a messenger girl lying and spinning on Meet the Press. Hillary is responsible for all U.S. foreign affairs. Benghazi and its coverup is a shameful and deadly episode that has damaged our standing in the world and thrown away the lives of our citizens. Any honorable minister of state would be obliged to resign over such a debacle.

But basically you’re right. These people are despicable.

6 Weeks and 6 Days.
Deliverance Day Approaches.

spiritof61 on September 19, 2012 at 8:42 PM

Congress needs to get on this ASAP.

TXUS on September 19, 2012 at 8:40 PM

Which means, at the very earliest 4 administrations from now…

SWalker on September 19, 2012 at 8:43 PM

If so, they and the Ambassador may well have been killed by those same weapons. Congress needs to get on this ASAP.

TXUS on September 19, 2012 at 8:40 PM

So Obama+Holder+Hillary are running guns for AlQaeda too ?

burrata on September 19, 2012 at 8:44 PM

Booooooooooooooooooossssssssssshhhh!

d1carter on September 19, 2012 at 8:44 PM

I’ve heard they were on assignment to attempt to determine whether weapons provided by us during Obama’s self-declared war against Libya leadership had gotten into AQ hands. If so, they and the Ambassador may well have been killed by those same weapons. Congress needs to get on this ASAP.

TXUS on September 19, 2012 at 8:40 PM

I think you’ve hit the nail on the head here.
And there was no supposedly warning?
I can’t imagine these Seals were so close purely coincidentally.

OTTO on September 19, 2012 at 8:45 PM

Did GWB want to release inmates from Gitmo or was he under pressure to do so by the many lawsuits from the lefties, ACLU, Amnesty International and the usual suspects?

bayview on September 19, 2012 at 7:56 PM

Did Holder defend this jihady pro bono ?
Was this jihady in contact with his American attorney , after his release from Gitmo ?

burrata on September 19, 2012 at 8:49 PM

So Obama+Holder+Hillary are running guns for AlQaeda too ?

burrata on September 19, 2012 at 8:44 PM

If only that were so far fetched as to be unbelievable.

SWalker on September 19, 2012 at 8:49 PM

For the first time in my adult life, I am ashamed of my country.

chewmeister on September 19, 2012 at 8:49 PM

Good job, Obama! More helpful last week though. Like before the attack. But still, not bad for affirmative action.

LetsBfrank on September 19, 2012 at 8:51 PM

The WH is trying to cover this up just like Fast/Furious, except this time it’s Hillary instead of Holder, and this time the lapdogs in the media can’t hide it.

Gee I wonder why Bill Clinton has not been heard from since all of this happened. He probably told Obama that his wife better not go under the bus because she will take Obama with her.

She was so close to being free of Obama. Months away from freedom from the guy who has the reverse midas touch. Now she has blood on her hands.

bailey24 on September 19, 2012 at 8:52 PM

So Obama+Holder+Hillary are running guns for AlQaeda too ?

burrata on September 19, 2012 at 8:44 PM

Not suggesting that. But, Team Obama certainly wouldn’t want it to be learned that we gave away weapons in an unauthorized war that ended up in AQ’s hands.

TXUS on September 19, 2012 at 8:53 PM

For the first time in my adult life, I am ashamed of my country.

chewmeister on September 19, 2012 at 8:49 PM

It is not the country that is shameful, but the wicked and incompetent pack of fools who are currently running it and their enablers on your television screen.

spiritof61 on September 19, 2012 at 8:55 PM

Now she has blood on her hands.

bailey24 on September 19, 2012 at 8:52 PM

Again.

chewmeister on September 19, 2012 at 8:55 PM

spiritof61 on September 19, 2012 at 8:55 PM

A dig at the FLOTUS.

chewmeister on September 19, 2012 at 8:58 PM

And speaking of Huda the Executioner…

thatsafactjack on September 19, 2012 at 8:25 PM

I’ll read your link, but I just wanted to be clear, when I wrote…

“the tablecloth-wearing, Jocelyn Wilderstein-separated-at-birth, Lypsynka of Libya’s regime”

I was referring to Qadaffi. :-)

Resist We Much on September 19, 2012 at 9:00 PM

spiritof61 on September 19, 2012 at 8:42 PM

Rice is just the Ambassador to the UN, a messenger girl lying and spinning on Meet the Press. Hillary is responsible for all U.S. foreign affairs.

That is true. I never figured out why Rice was picked to carry the water for the administration’s failure. But let us not forget that Hillary is bullet proof. Not only does she have a following, her “husband” is carrying the water on the campaign trail for the rat-eared bastard with Democrats who hate Obama. She isn’t going to be fired. The ambassador to Libya is (obviously) dead.

Who do you hang this on that is sufficiently high enough in status?
Can’t blame the NATO military leadership when you’re pandering for the votes of servicemembers. Can’t overtly blame Lybia when you are claiming that your getting rid of their dictator was an unqualified success. Rice is like an ensign in a Star Trek episode.

Benghazi and its coverup is a shameful and deadly episode that has damaged our standing in the world and thrown away the lives of our citizens.

Our standing in the world was damaged almost four years ago when Obama went on his apology tour of terrorist nations and proclaimed our support of Israel was negotiable and that we would meet with our enemies without pre-conditions. This is a fruit of that labor.

Any honorable minister of state would be obliged to resign over such a debacle.

Bill or Hillary Clinton and honorable have rarely been used in the same sentence. She hates Obama but needed her campaign debt to be paid off. She wants him to be defeated for the opportunity to be the challenger against Mitt in 2016. Plus she’s already made it clear that she will not serve beyond 2012 and I seriously doubt that Obama will push to keep her in her job. IMO Hillary Clinton was an idiot to give up her very safe Senate seat.

Happy Nomad on September 19, 2012 at 9:01 PM

It’s times like this that I miss sequireptilian.

Bishop on September 19, 2012 at 9:02 PM

But, Team Obama certainly wouldn’t want it to be learned that we gave away weapons in an unauthorized war that ended up in AQ’s hands.

TXUS on September 19, 2012 at 8:53 PM

If I understand Team Obama correctly, they would want it to be known that they gave away weapons which killed Americans at the request and advice of …….McCain ,
then, leave it upto the Tingler and fluffers to get jiggy with the ” story”. Pretty soon they will beblaming the Republicans for murdering 4 Americans in Libya on 9-11

burrata on September 19, 2012 at 9:03 PM

Rice is like an ensign in a Star Trek episode.

Happy Nomad on September 19, 2012 at 9:01 PM

What??? Susan “Red Shirt” Rice? Say it isn’t soooo…. ;p

SWalker on September 19, 2012 at 9:04 PM

Call me kooky but here’s my theory about the blind sheikh.
According to Fox there were threats to the embassy in Cairo on Sept 9/10th that it would be burned down with people inside if the blind sheikh was not released. DHS sent out warnings.

At some point the Islamist in Cairo or some other embassy take American hostages.
What would Obama do to assure their release? Give them the blind sheikh. All pre-arranged of course.

I do not put anything past this administration.
Remember Obama basically did nothing when the Lockerbie bomber was released.

bailey24 on September 19, 2012 at 9:04 PM

Pretty soon they will be blaming the Republicans for murdering 4 Americans in Libya on 9-11

burrata on September 19, 2012 at 9:03 PM

Damned if you don’t just know that was their very first reaction, “How do we blame this on the Republicans”…

SWalker on September 19, 2012 at 9:06 PM

“the tablecloth-wearing, Jocelyn Wilderstein-separated-at-birth, Lypsynka of Libya’s regime”

I was referring to Qadaffi. :-)

Resist We Much on September 19, 2012 at 9:00 PM

Trifling differences

OTTO on September 19, 2012 at 9:07 PM

Matt Olsen better get ready for some phone calls from Valerie Jarrett…he will need to clarify this by tomorrow.

d1carter on September 19, 2012 at 9:09 PM

Why has no one raised the possibility that rather than exploiting a protest, this group whipped up a protest as cover for a planned operation?

BKeyser on September 19, 2012 at 9:16 PM

Why has no one raised the possibility that rather than exploiting a protest, this group whipped up a protest as cover for a planned operation?

BKeyser on September 19, 2012 at 9:16 PM

Community organizing gone badass you mean ?

burrata on September 19, 2012 at 9:29 PM

Great. Gun walking in Libya.

Philly on September 19, 2012 at 9:39 PM

Why has no one raised the possibility that rather than exploiting a protest, this group whipped up a protest as cover for a planned operation?

BKeyser on September 19, 2012 at 9:16 PM

“U.S. intelligence believes part of the motivation for launching the attack was a video from al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri that surfaced the night of Sept. 10, imploring Libyans to attack Americans in retribution for the U.S. drone strike that killed Libyan-born al-Qaida leader Abu Yahya al-Libi in June.”

http://www.washingtonguardian.com/revising-libya-story

Resist We Much on September 19, 2012 at 9:57 PM

http://www.washingtonguardian.com/revising-libya-story

Resist We Much on September 19, 2012 at 9:57 PM

There seems to be more and more coming out from sources that the WH can’t control. We are getting the real story now.

d1carter on September 19, 2012 at 10:45 PM

The guy’s full name, in case anyone is bored:
ABU SUFIAN IBRAHIM AHMED HAMUDA BIN QUMU

Here’s his leaked security review doc:
http://www.npr.org/2011/04/25/135694391/guantanamo-document-abu-sufian-bin-qumu

Detainee Threat: poses a MEDIUM to HIGH risk, as he is likely to pose a threat to the US, its interests and allies.

strictnein on September 19, 2012 at 10:54 PM

Reuters is reporting that the “protest” which subsequently developed into a heavy-weapons attack on the consulate was so small and insignificant as to hardly be noticeable.

In effect, there never was a riot outside the consulate – it was a direct and full attack by armed forces with coordination. This is backed by the President al-Megaryef of Libya who stated there was no riot at all, just a straight-up full-scale military attack.

White House will deny there was a protest at all and that they never mentioned one in 5…4…3…2…

DublOh7 on September 19, 2012 at 11:16 PM

Government employees died, then Obama lied.

Obama administration is lying and they know it. And we know it too.

Conservative Samizdat on September 19, 2012 at 11:58 PM

Navy SEALs, even former ones under contract, as these two heroes apparently were, do not do VIP protection but, …
TXUS on September 19, 2012 at 8:40 PM

Um, not exactly the case. Some members of SEAL Team 6 were tasked to provide security for Ambassador Negroponte in the Philippines back in the ’90s. Most likely, that wasn’t the only time…

climbnjump on September 20, 2012 at 12:47 AM

Navy SEALs, even former ones under contract, as these two heroes apparently were, do not do VIP protection but, …

TXUS on September 19, 2012 at 8:40 PM

Not exactly the case. A couple members of SEAL Team 6 were tasked with protecting the ambassador to the Philippines in the ’90s. That was probably not the only such deployment.

climbnjump on September 20, 2012 at 1:44 AM

I think the real question should be why did the State Dept and the Obama Admin lie to us for a week when everyone else seemed to know that this was a terrorist attack except them? Are they stupid or liars?

magicbeans on September 20, 2012 at 10:37 AM

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