AP on Benghazi attack: 150 gunmen involved, arrived in Ansar al-Sharia trucks
posted at 7:24 pm on October 27, 2012 by Allahpundit
The highest estimate I’d seen before this of the number of attackers was 40. Read this piece and think about not only how many people were involved but how organized and deliberate they were, particularly in setting up roadblocks before making their move. Then think about Chris Stevens and the skeleton crew of unarmed Libyan guards that State left him with trying to repel something of this magnitude. This explains why a Spectre gunship might have been needed: There were a lot of jihadis swarming the consulate that night.
The AP spoke to five Libyan witnesses. No one saw any protest about the movie before the attack, but one of them did see Ansar al-Sharia using the movie as a bit of attack theater:
Khaled al-Haddar, a lawyer who passed by the scene as he headed to his nearby home, said he saw the fighters gathering a few youths from among passers-by and urged them to chant against the film.
“I am certain they had planned to do something like this, I don’t know if it was hours or days, but it was definitely planned,” said al-Haddar. “From the way they set up the checkpoints and gathered people, it was very professional.”
The guard said he saw no protesters.
Proof that they were upset over the movie after all, or theatrics designed to bolster a pretext? Ask a terror expert:
Yasser el-Sirri, a former Egyptian militant who runs the Islamic Observation Center in London closely tracking jihadi groups, said the attack “had nothing to do with the film but it was a coincidence that served the (militants’) purpose.”
He believes the ambassador was the target and the attackers may have been inspired by an al-Qaida call to avenge the death of a top Libyan jihadist on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the United States in 2001. But he offered no firm evidence that was the motive.
They wanted to kill Stevens but figured that killing him as revenge for the U.S. strike on AQ capo Abu Yahya al-Libi wouldn’t earn them much sympathy from the locals. So they set up a narrative which they figured would play better with the public, i.e. they killed an American to avenge an insult to Islam by another American. That’s probably why they recruited the bystanders to chant; it was their cover story, to try to win popular support. Didn’t work out for them, but they sure were thinking ahead.