Arms Flow to Syria May Be Behind Benghazi Cover-Up

Family Security Matters

The day after the big Obama-Romney debate, as media and politicians were  engaging in the usual after-action assessment frenzy, some of the most important  issues surrounding the September 11 attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi,  Libya, remain unaddressed.

While it clearly matters (a lot) if and when the President told the truth to  the American public about the terrorist nature of that attack and why the  Department of State refused repeated pleas from its own diplomats in Libya for  more and better security, the deeper, unaddressed issue is about the  relationship of the U.S. government, Ambassador Christopher Stevens and the U.S.  diplomatic mission in Libya with Al Qaeda.

During the 2011 Libyan revolt against Muammar Qaddafi, reckless U.S. policy  flung American forces and money into the conflict on the side of the rebels, who  were known at the time to include Al  Qaeda elements. Previously the number two official at the U.S. Embassy in  Tripoli, Christopher Stevens was named as the official  U.S. liaison to the Libyan opposition in March, 2011.

Stevens was tasked with helping to coordinate U.S. assistance to the rebels,  whose top military commander, Abdelhakim Belhadj, was the leader of the Al Qaeda  affiliate, the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG). That means that Stevens was  authorized by the U.S. Department of State and the Obama administration to aid  and abet individuals and groups that were, at a minimum, allied ideologically  with Al Qaeda, the jihadist terrorist organization that attacked the  homeland on the first 9/11, the one that’s not supposed to exist anymore after  the killing of its leader, Osama bin Laden, on May 2, 2012.

Although Belhadj  reportedly now has moved on to Syria to help lead the fight against the Assad  regime being waged by the Syrian Free Army (SFA), other Libyan fighters, who  were formerly members of his LIFG and other Al Qaeda affiliates formed a new  terror militia in Libya (and elsewhere) called Ansar  al-Shariah (Supporters of Sharia/Islamic Law).

According to an August, 2012 report from the Library of Congress and the  Kronos organization, “Al-Qaeda  in Libya: A Profile,” Ansar al-Shariah is an Al Qaeda franchise operation,  established in Libya with the assistance of senior Al Qaeda operatives  dispatched from Pakistan specifically to supervise the set up of a new  clandestine Al Qaeda network in Libya that would refrain from using the Al Qaeda  name.

The Derna, Libya Ansar al-Shariah cell is led by a former GITMO detainee  named Sufian Ben Qhumu. The September 11, 2012 attack on the Benghazi consulate  compound that killed Ambassador Stevens, his staffer Sean Smith and the two Navy  SEALs was directed  and led by Ansar al-Shariah.

One of the key unanswered, even unasked, questions about the U.S. and  Ambassador Stevens relationship with Abdelhakim Belhadj concerns not so much the  2011 period of the Libyan revolt, but rather what followed. Was Ambassador  Stevens still in touch with Belhadj and/or other Al Qaeda-linked figures even  after Belhadj traveled  to Istanbul, Turkey, in November, 2011 to make contact with the Syrian Free  Army?

According to August, 2012 reports leaked to the media, sometime earlier in  2012, President Obama signed an intelligence  finding to permit the CIA and other US government agencies to provide  support to the Syrian rebels, whose ranks are reported to be dominated by Al  Qaeda, the Muslim Brotherhood and other jihadist fighters who already  are supported by Turkey, Saudi Arabia and other jihadist regimes. Was  Belhadj a conduit for U.S. support, perhaps via Turkey?

It might be recalled that, according to the Department of State’s transcript of a  October 9, 2012 telephone conference call held to brief reporters on what  happened in Benghazi, the final meeting that Ambassador Stevens held the night  of September 11, 2012 before the attack began was with a Turkish diplomat.

Was that the meeting that was so important that the ambassador felt compelled  to slip into Al Qaeda-held Benghazi on the anniversary of the original 9/11  attacks, knowing that Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri had called for revenge  for the killing of his Libyan deputy, Abu Yahya al-Libi, concerned that he might  have been on an Al Qaeda hit list and fully aware that he was terribly exposed  with completely inadequate security? Was Ambassador Stevens directing a weapons  pipeline from Libya to the Syrian rebels with Turkish assistance?

As noted by at least one observant blogger, two buildings appear on the  overhead image of the Benghazi  consular compound that may be viewed behind State Department official  Charlene Lamb during her October 10, 2012 Congressional testimony but were not  mentioned at all in the October 9, 2012 briefing mentioned above. Might these  two warehouse-like buildings be storage facilities for Libyan weapons either  bought back or otherwise collected prior to onward shipment?

The New York Times reported in July, 2012 that CIA  officers were operating out of southern Turkey to help channel weapons to  fighters supposedly not allied with Al Qaeda or other terrorist groups. In a October  14 piece, though, the Times asserted flatly that “Most of the arms  shipped at the behest of Saudi Arabia and Qatar to supply Syrian rebel groups  fighting the government of Bashar al-Assad are going to hard-line Islamic jihadists, and not the more secular opposition groups…” And while  U.S. officials continue to stick to claims that they are not providing arms  directly to the Syrian rebels, but only channeling weapons that come from Saudi  Arabia and Qatar, reports that those rebels now have surface-to-air missiles  call to mind the thousands of such weapons  looted from Muammar Qaddafi’s stockpiles during and after the revolt that  ousted him in October 2011.

On October 17, 2012, Reuters reported that the Syrian rebels had  acquired surface-to-air  missiles, forcing the Syrian government air force to conduct bombings from  higher altitudes. An August, 2012 video  posted online purports to show a Syrian government helicopter hit with an  anti-aircraft missile, on fire and spiraling to the ground, where it exploded  into a fireball.

Many questions remain about what happened in Benghazi that night, not least  of which is why Belhadj and Ansar al-Shariah would turn on Stevens, who had been  their staunch if naïve ally, when his killing in the course of the attack on the  consulate likely would end any weapons supply to the Syrian rebels he might have  been directing.

Was marking the 9/11 date with revenge for the death of al-Libi more  important in the eyes of Al Qaeda than the preservation of this particular  weapons source? Were there weapons in those two buildings on September 11, 2012  and were they looted that night? Had Stevens and/or the U.S. somehow failed to  come through with an understood commitment of some kind?

In any case, false  information about the 9/11 attack in Benghazi being the fault of an online  video that seems to have originated with the Office of the Director of National  Intelligence (ODNI) James Clapper (perhaps with the collaboration  of CIA Director David Petraeus) was put out and repeated by senior  administration officials for days following the attack.

“[F]alse information was either knowingly disseminated or was directed to be  put out by senior policy officials for political reasons,” says Bill Gertz, citing  intelligence officials. Some of those alleged “political reasons” may have had  to do with ridiculous claims about the demise of Al Qaeda and the false promises  of an “Arab Spring,” but others may be more deeply buried in an Al Qaeda-linked  weapons supply line that was never supposed to become public.

Read more: Family Security Matters Under Creative Commons License: Attribution

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s