House intel chair: We knew “something big” was coming before Algerian hostage crisis

posted at 12:01 pm on January 21, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

Did the US get caught by surprise by the al-Qaeda attack on an Algerian natural-gas facility? Not entirely, as ABC News reports. While the US government insisted that AQ has been “decimated,” the House Intelligence Committee had been alerted to “lots of threat streams” about pending attacks in the North Africa region. Unfortunately, we didn’t get enough intel to connect the dots, says Rep. Mike Rogers, the committee chair:

The Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee said that before the deadly Algerian hostage crisis, the U.S. had several reports that “something big” was coming against a Western target — but not the details the government needed to prevent it.

“Just like the Benghazi event, we had lots of threat streams… There are reports coming in from all different types of sources saying, ‘Something big is going to happen,’” Rep. Mike Rogers (R.-Mich.) told ABC News Sunday. “We didn’t know for sure, for certain it would be this particular place under those circumstances, but we knew that they were trying to find a… Western target, which this clearly was.”

Roger’s comments came a day after the Algerian military forced a bloody end to the four-day hostage crisis at a BP joint-venture facility in the Sahara Saturday. Twenty-nine hostage-takers were killed and three arrested in that operation, according to Algerian Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal. One of the hostage takers was Canadian, he said.

Sellal also said 37 hostages of many nationalities died in the incident, some executed by the terrorists with shots to the head. U.S. officials said At least one American hostage was among the dead. Several others managed to escape the facility, but the fate of two remains unknown.

Unfortunately, that’s no longer the case:

Two additional Americans were killed in last week’s hostage standoff at a natural gas complex in Algeria, bringing the final U.S. death toll to three, an Obama administration official said Monday.

Seven Americans made it out safely.

The deceased Americans were identified as Victor Lynn Lovelady and Gordon Lee Rowan, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to speak publicly about the matter. The official had no details on how the Americans died, and their hometowns were not released. The FBI has recovered the bodies of and notified the families.

A report from the London Telegraph makes it clear how the threat evolved into an attack, or at least how the terrorists managed to arm themselves for their mission:

Many of the Islamist terrorists shot their way into the In Amenas compound on Thursday using the AK104 model of Kalashnikov, which was typically used by Libyan rebels in the war against Muammar Gaddafi.

They brought F5 rockets that also surfaced in the Libyan war, said the security source.

The Islamists wore the same type of outfits that Qatar provided to Libyan National Transitional Council rebels by Qatar – yellow flak jackets with brown patches, known as “chocolate chip” camouflage. The garments are copies of ones worn by Americans in the Gulf war.

The terrorists also employed 60mm gun-mortars used by France and Libyan rebels.

That Libyan intervention in 2011 just keeps paying dividends, doesn’t it?  Instead of focusing on terrorist threats and keeping the lid on North Africa, the US and NATO managed to destabilize Libya and provide arms and operational freedom to the very terrorist networks that want to attack Western targets.  And now we don’t have the capability to see those attacks coming, either.


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