Newsmax: US Hired Al-Qaeda-Linked Group to Defend Benghazi Mission

Newsmax Exclusive: US Hired al-Qaida-Linked Group to Defend Benghazi  Mission

By John Rosenthal,

The Libyan militia group that the State Department hired to defend its  embattled diplomatic mission in Benghazi had clear al-Qaida sympathies, and had  prominently displayed the al-Qaida flag on a Facebook page for months before the  deadly attack.

That organization, the February 17th Martyrs Brigade, was paid by the U.S.  government to provide security at the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi,  Libya. But there is no indication the Martyrs Brigade fulfilled its commitment  to defend the mission on Sept. 11, when it came under attack.

The assault claimed the lives of four Americans: Ambassador J. Christopher  Stevens, information officer Sean Smith, and former Navy Seals Tyrone Woods and  Glen Doherty. Stevens was the first U.S. ambassador to be killed in the line of  duty since 1979.

Several entries on the militia’s Facebook page openly profess sympathy for  Ansar al-Sharia, the hardline Islamist extremist group widely blamed  for  the deadly attack on the mission. The U.S. State Department did not respond to a  Newsmax request for an explanation as to why the February 17th Martyrs Brigade  was hired to protect the mission.

On April 23, House Republicans released an interim progress report on its  investigation into the Benghazi killings. It cited “numerous reports” that “the  Brigade had extremist connections, and it had been implicated in the kidnapping  of American citizens as well as in the threats against U.S. military  assets.”

The report also stated that just a few days before Ambassador Stevens arrived  in Benghazi, the Martyrs Brigade informed State Department officials they would  no longer provide security as members of the mission, including Stevens,  traveled through the city.

From June 2011 to July 2012, Eric Nordstrom, the Regional Security Officer  for Libya at the time, documented over 200 security threats and violent  incidents threatening to U.S. personnel in Libya. Some 50 of those incidents  occurred in Benghazi.

Yet despite those threats, repeated requests for additional security from the  mission went unheeded by the State Department, for reasons that remain  unclear.

But perhaps the biggest question is why the State Department would hire a  group that openly displayed its admiration for al-Qaida, and ask it to  participate in the defense of its diplomatic mission.

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