ISIS fighters in Libya surge as group suffers setbacks in Syria, Iraq

Getty Images

Getty Images

CNN, By Jim Sciutto, Barbara Starr and Kevin Liptak, Feb. 4, 2016:

Washington (CNN) The U.S. assesses that ISIS is ramping up the numbers of militants in Libya and that it has become harder for the group’s fighters to enter Syria.

The U.S. estimate of ISIS militants in Libya has doubled as it has become harder for them to enter Syria, according to U.S. intelligence assessments.

There may now be up to 6,500 ISIS fighters in Libya, twice the number previously thought, according to several U.S. intelligence officials.

They attributed the increase to the U.S. analysis that ISIS is diverting more fighters to Libya from Syria — and from Turkey when they cannot get into Syria.

“ISIS is investing heavily in Libya,” one U.S. official said.

While the estimate of up to 6,500 is the most recent from military intelligence sources, others in the intelligence community don’t agree and believe the number could be half that.

The trend began to emerge over the last six months of 2015, as indicated by the growth in numbers.

However, the official also strongly emphasized that the estimate is made up of “best guesses with low confidence,” underscoring that the U.S. is not certain at this point how many fighters are there.

The build-up is one of the key reasons the Pentagon wants to increase aerial surveillance and reconnaissance over Libya.

At the same time, the U.S. believes the number of ISIS fighters in Syria and Iraq has declined slightly to somewhere between 19,000 and 25,000 — compared to the previous estimate of 20,000 to 31,500 — according to two U.S. officials familiar with the latest information.

Both emphasized that these are all estimates at best.

The U.S. believes the decline is due in part to the rate at which coalition airstrikes are killing ISIS fighters, combined with a decline in the numbers coming into both countries.

The Pentagon has recently noted the rise in reports of ISIS defections and the increase in localized conscription as the group tries to maintain its strength, as well.

But U.S. officials emphasize that ISIS is still capable, for now, of maintaining its strongholds in the Iraqi coty of Mosul and the Syrian city of Raqqa, despite the decline.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest cited the declining numbers of ISIS fighters in Iraq and Syria as evidence that the Obama administration’s strategy is working in those countries. He noted that the intelligence assessments show 19,000 to 25,000 fighters in Iraq and Syria, down from 20,000 to 31,500 in a previous assessment.

READ: Gen. Dunford wants ‘decisive military action’ against ISIS in Libya

“ISIL is having a more difficult time than they’ve had before in replenishing their ranks,” he told reporters, using a different term for ISIS. “The reason the numbers inside Iraq and Syria are encouraging is that the numbers are moving in the right direction.”

Earnest also denied that there’s consideration of adding Libya as a “new front” in the war on ISIS, saying the administration has long been aware of the terror group’s attempts to gain a foothold outside of Iraq and Syria.

“We’ve been mindful of these other places like Libya and Afghanistan, where ISIL may turn some of their attention,” he said. “But we know they are focused on expanding ISIL’s footprint in Iraq and Syria.”

On a broader scale, the U.S. has recently estimated that more than 36,500 foreign fighters, at least 6,600 from the West, have traveled to Syria from at least 120 countries since ISIS emerged as a force of strength. That number is up from the previous 34,500 estimate. Not all of them have joined ISIS, however. Some, the U.S. believes, have joined al Qaeda-related groups such as al Nusra.

The U.S. also estimates 250 Americans have traveled or attempted to travel to Syria and Iraq to potentially fight or otherwise support the conflict.

Also see:

Learning from Barack and Hillary’s Libyan Adventure

President Obama delivers a statement on the US consulate attack in Benghazi, September 12, 2012.

President Obama delivers a statement on the US consulate attack in Benghazi, September 12, 2012.

Religious Freedom Coalition, by Andrew Harrod, PhD, Feb. 4, 2016:

To learn more about the September 11, 2012, attack upon the American diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, portrayed in themovie 13 Hours:  The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi, read Architects of Disaster:  The Destruction of Libya by Pete Hoekstra.  The former congressman insightfully analyzes the “naiveté run amok” concerning global jihad of President Barack Obama and “his chief foreign policy lieutenant, Hillary Clinton—who hopes to be the next commander-in-chief.”

Hoekstra, former House Intelligence Committee chairman, examines how this attack “was the culmination of a foreign policy on Islamic terrorism that was grounded in wishful thinking and self-delusion” concerning “moderate” Islamists.  This Obama administration definition often required “nothing more than a group’s professed commitment to nonviolence, however unsavory the group’s ultimate objectives.”  During the 2011 overthrow of Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi, Obama cooperated with “countless salafi-jihadist veterans of the global Al Qaeda.”  American policymakers were “seemingly content to buy jihadists’ assurances that they would pursue jihad solely in their homeland.”

Hoekstra remains at a loss to justify the Libya campaign’s estimated 9,700 NATO airstrikes and 20,000 tons of weapons delivered by Qatar, mostly to jihadists like those that brutally killed the fallen Gaddafi.  Although the Libyan campaign was supposedly a humanitarian intervention, “sensational reports of humanitarian abuses, having been largely generated by Gaddafi’s opposition, were vastly overstated.”  In the face of Gaddafi’s imminent victory, the foreign intervention was “not seeking to bring the killing to a halt or to facilitate a peaceful resolution to the war, but rather to help the losing side win—by definition a prolongation of the conflict.”

Hoekstra fully recognizes that “Muammar Gaddafi was a monster, but he was our monster” at the time of his overthrow.  Hoekstra had first visited Libya with a 2003 congressional delegation specifically requested by President George W. Bush to determine whether Gaddafi genuinely sought better relations with the West.  Hoekstra had multiple meetings with Gaddafi during two subsequent official visits.

“Gaddafi was obviously driven by his instinct for self-preservation,” Hoekstra writes, but the transformation of American-Libyan relations under a despot previously notorious for international terrorism “was nothing short of stunning.”  After “September 11, 2001, Gaddafi had emerged as one of America’s greatest assets in one of the world’s most dangerous regions, northern Africa—strategically located between the tinder box of the Sahel and the soft underbelly of southern Europe.”  Additionally, “human rights conditions in Libya generally improved during this period.”

Contrastingly, a chaotic post-Gaddafi “Libya is today a central nexus for training and equipping jihadists across the Middle East,” notes Hoekstra.  Along with shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles, “Islamic terrorists almost surely got their hands on the remnants of Gaddafi’s chemical weapons arsenal.”  Libya exemplifies how Obama has “thrown out dictators only to embrace far worse.  American foreign policy has been turned upside-down.”

“Gaddafi, for all his sordid history, was infinitely wiser than Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton” concerning Islam, notes Hoekstra.  “Gaddafi appreciated—in ways few Americans could—how vast were the jihadists’ global ambitions” and that “their scorn for democracy and individual rights dwarfed even his own.”  Accordingly, under him the Libya’s Muslim Brotherhood “was never allowed the opportunity to expand its influence by building a substantial social welfare network,” in contrast to neighboring Egypt.

Hoekstra finds a certain precedent for Obama administration Islam fantasies in President George W. Bush, who “repeatedly proclaimed Islam a ‘religion of peace.’”  Bush wanted “to avoid being seen as attacking the overwhelming majority of Muslims, who go about their lives peaceably,” yet “such a formulation also left too many things unsaid.”  This “refusal of the Bush administration to take seriously or understand the realities of Muslim culture” led him “to grossly underestimate the enormous obstacles that it faced in seeking to foster Western-style democracies in that part of the world.”

Hoekstra contrasts the “heads of state and chief intelligence leaders of just about every country that bordered Iraq” that he visited before the 2003 invasion.  “Almost to a person they said the same thing:  ‘You’re making a huge mistake.  You don’t know what you will be unleashing.’”  Today “Iraq is a disaster of incalculable proportions…We owned Iraq for a time, but we left before the job of rebuilding was done—assuming that it could have ever been completed.”  Similarly, the “Afghanistan we are now leaving is little different from the Afghanistan we inherited.”

“If such countries are ever to change fundamentally, we must understand that their change will be a long and exceedingly slow process” and “locally driven, not imposed by outsiders,” Hoekstra concludes.  He recalls a 2007 Jordan visit in which during “three days I talked with the Iraqi Sunni chieftains, and over and over I heard the same thing.”  “We have a system of local government that has worked thousands of years:  It is called the tribal system,” they stated, “if you think that you can impose democratic electoral reforms at the local level, we will continue to fight you.”  “General David Petraeus took heed,” writes Hoekstra, with a “surge” campaign making explicitly “clear to the local Sunnis that America was suspending efforts at democratization at the local level…and the rest is history.”

“Failing to grasp the fundamental lesson of those earlier experiences—that once broken, a nation is very difficult to put back together—President Obama broke Libya,” Hoekstra writes.  He is amazed that the “chief celebrant of Gaddafi’s murder,” Clinton, “actually gloated on camera: ‘We came, we saw, he died.’”  “It is an image that will likely haunt her presidential campaign and should,” Hoekstra notes.

“Geopolitical affairs are rarely black or white,” Hoekstra soberly concludes from his years on the intelligence committee.  He “traveled to more than eighty countries, sometimes meeting with leaders rightly reputed as being among the harshest and most oppressive in the world,” yet “they were the lesser of two evils…the devil we knew.”  “The world needs a strong America—an America that understands who it is, what it will do, and what its power can, and cannot, achieve.”

Andrew E. Harrod is a researcher and writer who holds a PhD from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and a JD from George Washington University Law School. He is a fellow with the Lawfare Project, an organization combating the misuse of human rights law against Western societies. He can be followed on twitter at @AEHarrod.

U.S. Conditions IS Libya Fight on Unity Government

US Secretary of State John Kerry (2nd L) and Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni (R) hold a bilateral meeting before a summit regarding Islamic State with the foreign ministers of 23 countries from Europe, the West and the region, as well as by the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, on February 2, 2016 in Rome. Reuters/Nicholas Kamm/Pool

US Secretary of State John Kerry (2nd L) and Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni (R) hold a bilateral meeting before a summit regarding Islamic State with the foreign ministers of 23 countries from Europe, the West and the region, as well as by the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, on February 2, 2016 in Rome. Reuters/Nicholas Kamm/Pool

CSP, by Kevin Samolsky, Feb. 2, 2016:

February 2, 2016, Secretary of State John Kerry met with officials from 23 nations in Rome to discuss combating IS. Secretary Kerry addressed his growing concerns of the Islamic State’s (IS) presence in Libya especially. The growing fear is that the terrorist organization will take advantage of the lack of stability to control oil fields to further finance its operations.

Libya has been in turmoil since the NATO-backed ousting of former dictator Muammar Gaddafi, in 2011. The Libyan government is currently split between an internationally recognized government in Tobruk, the General National Congress (GNC), and an unofficial government in Tripoli led by the Islamist Libya Dawn faction. Libya Dawn was able to force the GNC out of the Tripoli in 2014, and the international community has been working ever since to unite the two governments.

Libya Dawn and the GNC signed a UN-brokered agreement to unify the government last December. However, it is unclear what Libya Dawn hopes to get out of the agreement, as it was their decision to attempt to seize power following election losses that led to the current fissure.

While the Libya Dawn government may claim they want to end hostilities and unite the government, it’s likely just a play to regain power.

Libya Dawn is dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood, and the enemy of the El-Sisi government in Egypt. This had led to the decision by Cairo to fully back the GNC and openly opposed any agreement that would return the Islamists to legitimate political power. Egypt has been the driving force behind Gen. Khalifa Haftar’s anti-Islamist “Operation Dignity” campaign which has seen battlefield gains against the Islamist factions.

IS has become a growing concern to North African nations. The Free Fire Blog recently discussed the growing connections between the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, and IS’s growing trade network with Hamas in Gaza. In Libya, IS has taken control of Sirte, a city that links east and west of Libya, and has launched numerous attacks around the country.

International Business Times reported last year of IS threatening to wage war on Libya Dawn, but those hostilities may subside while both sides are being targeted by Egyptian and UAE airstrikes.

Breitbart News reports on troubling news of possible cooperation  between IS, Al Qaeda (AQ), and the Muslim Brotherhood within Libya. This merger would threaten any chance Libya has at stability, and if the Brotherhood were to take over, it would further threaten the neighboring government of Egypt.

Libya’s hopes for stability are quickly fading, and the Obama Administration may be apart of the blame. The Obama Administration allowed for weapon shipments to be sent to armed rebel groups during the uprising against Qaddafi. Some of these weapons fell in the hands of jihadist groups which allowed them to fight for control of Libya once Qaddafi was killed.

While the U.S. initially armed rebel groups, it has taken a step back from Libya. Instead, the Obama Administration has harshly criticized those who take part in Libya’s issues through violence, especially the UAE and Egypt. It seems ironic for the Administration to criticize others for trying to stop terrorism when they were the ones who facilitated it.

Libya’s stability is crucial against the fight against terrorism. Terrorists have beensmuggling fighters through Libya to Europe and Syria. Libya is also an important connector between Islamic State’s home base in Syria and it’s efforts in West Africa. Without a stable government to prevent this, it will continue to threaten the stability of the region.

While Secretary Kerry may be worried about IS in Libya, there must be a greater focus on the wider Islamist threat to the country. The Muslim Brotherhood poses just as large a threat to Libyan stability as IS, and if they are given any political legitimacy it will only serve to expand jihadist activity in the country. Despite the Obama Administration’s insistence to the contrary, a GNC victory over Libyan Dawn would have a better impact on security than enforcing upon Libya a unity government that neither side really wants.

Ansar al Sharia Libya relies on al Qaeda ideologues to guide followers

Long War Journal, by Thomas Joscelyn, Feb. 2, 2016:

Jihadist groups around the globe denounced Saudi Arabia’s execution of more than 40 men in early January. Some of those sentenced to death had taken part in al Qaeda’s first campaign to disrupt the kingdom between 2003 and 2006. It was only natural, therefore, that al Qaeda, its regional branches and other affiliated groups would decry the House of Saud’s decision to follow through on the death sentences.

However, Ansar al Sharia Libya’s response was especially noteworthy. In a three-page statement released via Twitter on Jan. 15, the group compared those executed to senior al Qaeda leaders killed in America’s drone campaign.

“Al Salul [a derogatory reference to the Saudis] recognizes the importance of the true righteous scholars who control jihad with the correct provisions from the book of Allah Almighty and the sunna of His messenger, peace and blessing be upon him, and the impact of the absence of these scholars on the jihadist arena,” Ansar al Sharia Libya’s officials wrote, according to a translation obtained by The Long War Journal.

The jihadists claimed that the Saudis’ “message in this regard” is similar to “the acts of the head of global nonbelief, America, which has killed righteous scholars.”

Ansar al Sharia then listed eight such “scholars,” all of whom were al Qaeda leaders killed in US airstrikes: Harith bin Ghazi al Nadhari, Ibrahim Rubaish, Anwar al Awlaki, Nasir al Wuhayshi, Abu Musab al Zarqawi, Abu Yahya al Libi, Atiyah Abd al Rahman (referred to as “Atiyatallah”), and Khalid al Husainan.

The list is no accident. Ansar al Sharia regularly promotes sermons delivered by some of these same ideologues. Web banners used to advertise the speeches, which were first produced by al Qaeda, can be seen at the end of this article.

Throughout December and January, the organization’s radio station, Ather al Madinah, posted clips on social media of lectures by Nadhari and Rubaish, two al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) clerics who were killed in 2015.

One of Nadhari’s talks was divided into seven parts. He covered various theological issues, including the concept of tawheed (or the oneness of Allah). Nadhari explained in another sermon why Muslims should answer the “call to jihad.”

Several lectures by Rubaish, a former Guantanamo detainee who became an influential AQAP theologian after he was released from US custody, covered similar themes. In one, Rubaish advised Muslims to avoid selling out their religion for the pleasures of this world. Still another featured Rubaish and Nadhari together.

Abu Yahya al Libi’s speeches have also been rebroadcast by Ather al Madinah. Al Libi blasted the supposed false “idol” of democracy in a talk disseminated online in December.

Al Libi was one of al Qaeda’s most prominent ideologues at the time of his death in June 2012. On Sept. 10 2012, al Qaeda chief Ayman al Zawahiri confirmed al Libi’s death in a video released online. Zawahiri also called on Libyans to avenge his fallen comrade. Ansar al Sharia Libya and other al Qaeda groupsattacked an American diplomatic mission and the CIA’s so-called Annex the following day.

Screen-Shot-2016-02-02-at-1.27.36-PM-300x168Ansar al Sharia continues to refer to the Benghazi assault in its propaganda. In a short video released in December, for instance, the group’s fighters are shown chanting: “O tell lowly America that we will free Abu Khattala.”

Abu Khattala is the lone suspect from the Sept. 11, 2012 Benghazi raids in American custody. A screen shot of the fighters who chanted in the video can be seen on the right. The video was shot at a training camp named after Mohammed al Zahawi, Ansar al Sharia’s first emir (or leader), who died as a result of injuries in either late 2014 or early 2015.

After Zahawi’s death was confirmed in January 2015, Nadhari released a eulogy for the slain jihadist. Nadhari explained that Zahawi had personally met with Osama bin Laden in the 1990s in Sudan and adopted al Qaeda’s methodology at that time.

Although Ansar al Sharia Libya was initially portrayed by some as purely a local jihadist group, it has been a part of the al Qaeda network since its inception in 2011. The Long War Journal has documented the organization’s ties to al Qaeda and its branch in North Africa, Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), on multiple occasions.

And the group now openly promotes al Qaeda clerics to its followers on a regular basis.

Ansar al Sharia Libya’s banner ads promoting the lectures delivered by al Qaeda ideologues

Harith bin Ghazi al Nadhari, an AQAP official killed in January 2015:

15-12-25-Nadhari-Ansar-al-Sharia-audio-768x277

16-01-25-Nadhari-Ansar-al-Sharia-audio-768x316

Ibrahim Rubaish, an ex-Guantanamo detainee who became an AQAP official and was killed in April 2015:

15-12-23-Ibrahim-Rubaish-Ansar-al-Sharia-audio-768x277

16-01-30-Ibrahim-Rubaish-Ansar-al-Sharia-audio-768x277

Rubaish and Nadhari together:

15-12-20-Nadhari-and-Rubaish-Ansar-al-Sharia-Libya-audio-768x277

Abu Yahya al Libi was a senior al Qaeda ideologue until his death in June 2012:

16-01-30-Abu-Yahya-al-Libi-Ansar-al-Sharia-audio-768x277

Thomas Joscelyn is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Senior Editor for The Long War Journal.

Libyan ISIS chiefs living in fear of ‘mystery sniper’ after three of the terror group’s top men are assassinated by long-range marksman

Three ISIS leaders have been picked off by an unknown gunman in the Libyan city of Sirte, pictured in 2011, in just 10 days, according to social media - with the lone assassin being dubbed 'Daaesh hunter' in the press

Three ISIS leaders have been picked off by an unknown gunman in the Libyan city of Sirte, pictured in 2011, in just 10 days, according to social media – with the lone assassin being dubbed ‘Daaesh hunter’ in the press

  • Marksmen is said to have started the killing spree in Sirte on January 13
  • In the 10 days since, mystery gunman has picked two more ISIS leaders off
  • Militants now sweeping city for the killer, dubbed ‘Daesh hunter’ by locals 
  • ISIS is said to have 3,000 fighters in Sirte, a coastal city it took last year

Daily Mail, by Flora Drury, Jan. 29, 2016:

ISIS chiefs are living in fear of a mystery sniper after it was rumoured three of the evil terror group’s leaders had been assassinated within 10 days of each other by a long-range marksman.

The leaders are said to have been picked off one-by-one in Sirte, the Libyan coastal city where Muammar Gaddaffi was born, which the militants took control of last year.

According to unconfirmed social media reports, ISIS fighters are now sweeping the city for the man ordinary Libyans are said to be dubbing ‘Daesh hunter’.

The first ISIS leader to lose his life was Hamad Abdel Hady, a Sudanese national who was killed on January 13, according to Libya Prospect.

He is said to have been an official in the sharia court, handing out ISIS’ warped and violent sense of justice.

Abu Mohammed Dernawi was killed on January 19 near his home in the city, according to some reports.

The most recent death is rumoured to be that of Abdullah Hamad al Ansari, a high-up commander from southern Libya, who was shot dead as he left the mosque on January 23.

However, this may not be the start of such a campaign against ISIS fighters in the city.

Journalist Daniele Raineri pointed out a similar assassination took place in July, when an ISIS preacher was shot dead.

The reporter also urges caution in believing what could be nothing more than ‘wild rumours’ on his Twitter account.

Even so, social media is ablaze with reports of rumours of the sniper, who has become somewhat of a hero to those living under the control of the evil terror group, according to the Libya Herald.

The Islamists are not popular in the city, and days after the first assassination a ‘photo report’ emerged, showing the terror group executing at least three men and whipped another for drinking alcohol.

ISIS reportedly has 3,000 fighters in Sirte and has imposed the strict rules familiar with residents in their defacto capital in Raqqa, Syria.

Beheadings and crucifixions plague the town, which has been deserted by citizens by the thousands.

Also see:

LISTEN: Breitbart’s Klein Warns Shiite-Sunni Mega Confrontation ‘Coming’

Militant website via AP

Militant website via AP

Breitbart, by Aaron Klein, Jan. 28, 2016:

TEL AVIV – The Islamic State, Al-Qaida, and the Muslim Brotherhood are preparing for a major confrontation with Western-backed forces in Libya, Syria, and beyond, reported Breitbart Jerusalem bureau chief Aaron Klein.

Speaking during his regular segment on John Batchelor’s popular nighttime radio program, Klein highlighted recent events that he said indicate a looming confrontation between Shiite and Sunni-armed forces.

Listen to Klein’s interview on Batchelor’s show here:

Klein pointed to a recent report at Breitbart Jerusalem indicting the Libyan branches of the Islamic State, Al-Qaida, and the Muslim Brotherhood are in discussions to complete a “mega merger” in the country.

Klein connected the merger prospects to a report claiming dozens of Russian, American, and British troops have been deployed to Libya ahead of an offensive there against the Islamic State.

Also, on Friday Marine General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, urged decisive military action to halt the progress of IS in Libya, warning the global terrorist group was seeking to use the country as a regional headquarters and staging base.

And Klein discussed Breitbart Jerusalem reports of Iran arming regional terrorist organizations while competing for influence with the larger Saudi/Sunni axis.

Klein told Batchelor’s audience of the possible al-Qaida-Islamic State merger:

Aaron Klein audio

“They are reading the tea leaves. They are seeing the larger Sunni-Shiite divide, which has been escalating exponentially in recent weeks… They are seeing that there are no borders anymore.

There are no borders in Libya, there are no borders in Syria largely to speak of. The Turkish border is quite a mess. Yemen is in question.

So my analysis is that al-Qaida, the Muslim Brotherhood, Islamic State and others are seeing some sort of coming confrontation, maybe not between the U.S. and Russia but between proxies backed by the Saudis on the one hand and backed by Iran on the other.

There is a lager confrontation that they understand is coming against them in Libya and then ultimately beyond in Yemen and in Syria.”

Report: Islamic State, Al-Qaida, Muslim Brotherhood Discuss ‘Mega-Merger’ in Libya

AFP

AFP

Breitbart, by AARON KLEIN AND ALI WAKED, Jan. 25, 2016:

TEL AVIV – The Libyan branches of the Islamic State, Al-Qaida, and the Muslim Brotherhood are in discussions to complete a “mega merger,” the London-based A Sharq al Awsat newspaper reported.

Leaked documents have revealed that Libya’s biggest Islamist organizations are considering an alliance and the establishment of a joint council of sages, the Arabic language daily reported.

The prospective move comes in the wake of reports of an imminent international effort to form a unity government that would bring Libya’s numerous parties and militias together.

The paper said the Muslim Brotherhood is considering a united Islamic front even though the movement is officially in favor of forming a unity government. However, sources within the movement told the paper that their support for the international endeavor is merely tactical, and they’re waiting for it to collapse.

Negotiations between the three Islamic groups began because of reports of a rapprochement between the internationally recognized government based in Tobruk and the unrecognized government in the capital Tripoli, the paper said.

The groups wish to send a message to the forces coalescing around a unity government that they are not opposed by IS alone, but “all the Islamist opposition elements speak in one voice and should be treated as such,” a source said.

According to the documents, Muslim Brotherhood leaders said that Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi’s regime “isn’t supported by the Americans because of his close relations with Russia. They can’t wait to see him leave the scene.”

The parties agreed to form a joint Shura (advisory) council and territories that are currently under Islamic control will be divided between them, echoing a similar agreement that is already underway in Benghazi.

Al-Qaida’s representative was quoted as saying that the move would inspire Islamists in Algeria and Egypt to follow suit.

This follows Breitbart Jerusalem’s own exclusive reporting on mediation efforts between the Muslim Brotherhood-aligned Hamas in Gaza and Salafists aligned with the Islamic State.

Breitbart Jerusalem previously reported that Shadi al-Menai, one of the leaders of Wilayat Sinai, the Islamic State branch in Sinai, visited Gaza in a bid to mediate between Hamas and local Salafi groups after clashes erupted, resulting in the arrests of dozens of jihadists by Hamas forces.

Earlier this month, a leading Salafi source revealed that Menai mediated a deal whereby Hamas would give the Gaza Salafi opposition groups more leeway in exchange for Wilayat Sinai’s help in bypassing the Egyptian army’s restrictions on smuggling rocket parts into Gaza

This is not the first report of Hamas-IS cooperation in arms smuggling.

A Middle East think tank charged last month that there is information Hamas has been paying off the Islamic State’s Sinai branch to smuggle weapons into Gaza. “Over the past two years, IS Sinai helped Hamas move weapons from Iran and Libya through the peninsula, taking a generous cut from each shipment,” stated a report by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

Despite the rapprochement between Hamas and IS-Sinai, tensions between the ruling faction and Salafi opposition groups in Gaza are rampant.

The Army of Islam, a Salafi group that aspires to become IS’s sole representative in Palestine, recently released an acerbic video in which it blames Hamas for straying from Sharia law and cooperating with anti-Islamic players, including Shi’ite Iran.

***

Also see:

Hillary’s Benghazi Stand-Down Order Exposed

secret-soldiersFrontpage, by  Kenneth R. Timmerman, January 13, 2016:

A preview by Benghazi security officer Kris “Tanto” Paronto of 13 Hours, the block-buster Michael Bay film that premieres on Thursday, raises dramatic new questions about the refusal by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to authorize a military rescue of the besieged U.S. diplomatic facility and the nearby CIA Annex on Sept 11-12, 2012.

In a presentation at a conference organized by the Maryland Citizen Action Network last weekend, Paronto revealed that two AC-130H “Spectre” gunships were “on call” that night, both within range of Benghazi.

One of them was a six-hour flight away, co-located with a U.S. special operations team in Djibouti.

The other was at Naval Air Station Sigonella, in Sicily. “That’s a 45-minute flight,” Paronto said.

The Spectre gunship with its 25mm rapid-fire gatling guns, its 40 mm precision Bofors gun, and its 105mm canon is “good in urban warfare because you have little collateral damage,” Paronto explained.

In fact, it was just what the beleaguered security team needed. They could see the jihadis advancing on the Annex compound throughout the night and lit them up with lasers, which the airborne crew could have used for precision targeting purposes. On-line videos of the Spectre gunship in operation show that it can walk its cannons up narrow streets, killing fighters while leaving the surrounding buildings intact and people inside them unharmed.

“I asked for the Spectre and ISR [an armed Predator drone] at 9:37 pm,” Paronto said, certain that the attacks actually started at 9:32 pm local time, not 9:42 pm as previously reported. “At midnight, they told us they were still working on getting us that Spectre gunship. Not that it was not available, but that they were still working on it.”

And there were more forces immediately available for a rescue effort, in particular, the European Command (EUCOM) Commander’s In-Extremis Force, which was then on a counter-terrorism training mission in Croatia, a 3 hour flight from Benghazi.

Paronto knew people in that unit, and remembers calling them after he and his security team got back to the CIA Annex from the diplomatic compound, where they had just rescued the surviving U.S. personnel. “They were loading their gear into their aircraft and ready to go,” he recalled.

Later, his friends in the unit told him they had been shut down sometime after midnight.

All evidence now points to a specific stand-down order issued by Secretary Clinton, since the Libyan facilities came under her direct authority. Without a specific request for assistance from the State Department, the Pentagon was powerless to act.

Last month, the State Department released a critical email, sent at 7:09 pm Washington time (1:09 am Benghazi time) from Jeremy Bash, a top aide to Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, informing Mrs. Clinton’s office of various military assets that were “spinning up as we speak” to deploy to Benghazi.

Among those assets were C-110 in Croatia, two U.S. Marine Corps Fleet Antiterrorism Security Team (FAST) platoons based in Rota, Spain, the Spectre gunships, armed Predator drones, and possibly elements of Marine Expeditionary Units in the Mediterranean and the Red Sea.

In preparation for deploying C-110 directly to Benghazi from Croatia, General Carter Ham, commander-in-chief of Africa Command (AFRICOM), issued orders transferring authority for C-110 to him from European Command (EUCOM).

General Ham was doing what any smart U.S. military officer would have done, by laying the ground work for a formal order he expected to come down an hour or two later.

“Assuming Principals agree to deploy these elements, we will ask State to secure the approval from host nation,” Bash wrote. “Please advise how you wish to convey that approval to us.”

When Bash sent that email, Paronto and his team-mates had just fought off an assault on the Annex by twenty or more well-armed jihadis. They would continue to fight throughout the night, as larger and increasingly brazen groups of jihadis gathered in dark areas beyond the Annex the security officers referred to as “Zombiland.”

They certainly could have used the support from the Spectre gunship, or the arrival of forty or so well-armed Special Operations combat specialists from C-110.

To date, the State Department has not released any reply from Mrs. Clinton’s office to Bash’s 7:09 PM request. However, we know from the testimony of the top U.S. diplomat in Tripoli at the time, Greg Hicks, that the State Department never requested country clearance from Libya for any U.S. forces that night.

And when the orders finally went out from Panetta’s office an hour later, they included a retransfer of C-110 from AFRICOM back to EUCOM, along with orders for the unit to move to Sigonella the next day and hold in place, instead of flying to Benghazi.

In other words, because Mrs. Clinton refused to authorize those forces to deploy into Libya to assist State Department personnel and State Department facilities, Panetta had no other choice but to put them on hold.

“The State Department was concerned that an overt U.S. military presence in Libya could topple the government,” a senior AFRICOM commander involved in that night’s events told me. “They were in denial. They wanted a narrative that al Qaeda was on the run. Instead, four Americans died.”

With the release of the Bash email and 13 Hours, Mrs. Clinton’s cover has been blown.

I also asked Paronto last weekend if he had heard reports of an Iranian Quds Force presence in Benghazi, as I had been hearing from numerous U.S. military intelligence sources, including senior AFRICOM commanders.

“Everyone knew the Iranians were there,” he replied. “Especially once the Red Cross [Red Crescent] team from Iran was ‘kidnapped’ in Benghazi [on July 31] by Ansar al-Sharia, we knew about them and were tracking them.”

As I reported in Dark Forces: the Truth About What Happened in Benghazi, U.S. military and civilian intelligence agencies produced between 50 to 60 reports on the Iranian presence in Benghazi and Derna in 2012, and Iran’s deep involvement with Ansar al-Sharia, the group that claimed responsibility for the Benghazi attacks. Multiple FOIA requests seeking copies of these reports from the National Director of Intelligence and from AFRICOM have gone without response.

It’s time to remove the wraps of secrecy from those reports as well, so the American public can finally learn the truth about who plotted, organized and paid for the Benghazi attacks.

Kenneth Timmerman is the New York Times best-selling author of “Dark Forces: the Truth About What Happened in Benghazi,” and other books.

Also see:

ISIS pilots training in Libya

id_bayragi_ile_bir_militanFrontpage, by Kenneth R. Timmerman, Dec. 9, 2015:

ISIS is now training pilots for future terrorist missions on an imported flight simulator in Libya, according to Arabic media reports citing Libyan and Egyptian military officials.

The flight simulator, apparently imported in October, is now located in the former Qaddafi stronghold of Sirte, about halfway between Benghazi and Tripoli.

“It’s a modern simulator, which apparently arrived from abroad,” the officials told the London-based Arabic daily, Al Sharq al Awsat. The simulator is the size of a compact car and includes a steering wheel, radar and communications gear, so student pilots can practice take-off and (crash) landing.

For now, it would appear that ISIS is “merely” training pilots to fly small aircraft, not military jets. “We’re talking about very basic, rudimentary pilots who can take off in a light plane and crash themselves into the Vatican, for instance,” Colonel Jacques Neriah, a retired Israeli military intelligence official, told FoxNews.

Although the initial news accounts on the ISIS simulator appeared last week, so far no reporter has asked the State Department or the White House about it during the daily briefings, nor has the U.S. government officially commented on it.

But the news so alarmed neighboring Arab governments that they briefed reporters on it, including the extraordinary detail that the Lebanese Air Force “tried several times to hit the base where the flight training is thought to be being conducted, but did not succeed in the attempts.”

The Lebanese Air Force mothballed its entire 10-aircraft fleet of Mirage IIIs in the 1980s, and today has just a handful of ancient British-made Hawker Hunter T-66 ground attack aircraft. The last time I can remember them conducting an air strike was about 1975.

Perhaps Egypt or Saudi Arabia were worried that if they attempted to bomb the facility, they would kill their own nationals.

This extraordinary piece of news came on the heels of a United Nations report that detailed the push by ISIS into Libya, where they now have an estimated 3,000 foreign fighters (aka, terrorists) training to strike targets in the region and beyond.

Qaddafi’s former stronghold, Sirte, has become the capital of ISIS in Libya and home to about half of all the ISIS fighters now in country.

Remember how Libya was supposed to be Hillary Clinton’s great success story? So proud was she of her role in getting rid of Qaddafi and replacing him with a rebel coalition that included known jihadi terrorists that she instructed her top policy advisor, Jake Sullivan, to craft bragging points about it in August 2011.

Libya was Hillary’s war, her shining accomplishment as Secretary of State. After Benghazi, she hoped the media and the American public would not remind her of it.

Last year, ISIS fighters captured two Air Force bases in Central Syria, Tabqa and Kshesh, and posed for photographs with Syrian Air Force MiG 19s and MiG 21s. ISIS subsequently released a propaganda video, purporting to show its pilots flying a former Syrian military jet, most likely a Czech L-39 “Albatross” jet trainer.

I can imagine an ISIS pilot flying a Syrian Air Force jet and pretending to return after a mission to a Syrian Air Force base and blowing up key installations on the ground.

But far more unsettling is the thought that ISIS might train pilots on commercial jetliners, just as al Qaeda did before the 9/11 attacks.

Although it is not well known, the Iranian regime imported a Boeing 757/767/777 simulator and used it to train some of the 9/11 pilots for their final mission. This is one of many little reported facts that emerged from the Iran-9/11 case in New York that ultimately convinced a U.S. district court judge to award the families of 9/11 victims a $6 billion judgment against Iran.

Al Qaeda called on Iran for the more advanced training because the pilots who had undergone basic flight school in the United States were not deemed proficient enough for the tricky task of navigating a giant Boeing into the World Trade Center towers. Because Iran Air did not have Boeing 757/767/777 aircraft or the required simulator, they tasked an intelligence team to procure it in China.

There have been persistent reports that ISIS-affiliated groups in Libya commandeered former Libyan Airlines commercial jets last year. The initial reports mentioned eleven or twelve missing aircraft.

While some of those aircraft have turned up since, either whole or in pieces, others remain missing.

It’s hard to overstate the danger of an ISIS pilot training facility in the badlands of Libya, especially if they begin training pilots to fly those missing commercial jets.

Remember that the original al Qaeda template for 9/11 was a scheme known as Bojinka, and involved planting bombs on 11 commercial airliners to blow them up in flight, en route from Asia to the United States, with a 12th plane crashing into CIA headquarters.

Suicide pilots make the logistics of such a scheme much simpler. And with dozens of major urban centers within easy flying range in Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Turkey, Greece, Italy and France, the potential for mayhem becomes mind-boggling.

When the President of the United States and his Secretary of State believe that the greatest danger facing the world is global warming and that terror attacks in California should remind us of the need for more gun control, we should prepare for the worst.

Islamic State Tightens Grip on Libyan Stronghold of Sirte

An image taken from jihadist media outlet Wilayat Trablus and provided courtesy of the U.S.-based monitoring agency SITE Intelligence Group on June 9 allegedly shows Islamic State fighters running toward what they say is a power plant in the southern Libyan city of Sirte. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES

An image taken from jihadist media outlet Wilayat Trablus and provided courtesy of the U.S.-based monitoring agency SITE Intelligence Group on June 9 allegedly shows Islamic State fighters running toward what they say is a power plant in the southern Libyan city of Sirte. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES

WSJ, by TAMER EL-GHOBASHY and HASSAN MORAJEA, Nov. 29, 2015:

MISRATA, Libya—Even as foreign powers step up pressure against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, the militant group has expanded in Libya and established a new base close to Europe where it can generate oil revenue and plot terror attacks.

Since announcing its presence in February in Sirte, the city on Libya’s Mediterranean coast has become the first that the militant group governs outside of Syria and Iraq. Its presence there has grown over the past year from 200 eager fighters to a roughly 5,000-strong contingent which includes administrators and financiers, according to estimates by Libyan intelligence officials, residents and activists in the area.

The group has exploited the deep divisions in Libya, which has two rival governments, to create this new stronghold of violent religious extremism just across the Mediterranean Sea from Italy. Along the way, they scored a string of victories—defeating one of the strongest fighting forces in the country and swiftly crushing a local popular revolt.

Libya’s neighbors have become increasingly alarmed.

Tunisia closed its border with Libya for 15 days on Wednesday, the day after Islamic State claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing on a bus in the capital Tunis that killed 12 presidential guards.

Tunisia is also building a security wall along a third of that border to stem the flow of extremists between the countries. Two previous attacks in Tunisia this year that killed dozens of tourists were carried out by gunmen the government said were trained by Islamic State in Libya, which has recruited hundreds of Tunisians to its ranks.

This burgeoning operation in Libya shows how Islamic State is able to grow and adapt even as it is targeted by Russian, French and U.S.-led airstrikes in Syria as well as Kurdish and Iraqi ground assaults in Iraq.

On Thursday, nearly two weeks after Islamic State’s attacks on Paris, French PresidentFrançois Hollande and Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi met in the French capital where both said Europe must turn its attention to the militants’ rise in Libya. Mr. Renzi said Libya risks becoming the “next emergency” if it is not given priority.

In Libya, Islamic State has fended off challenges from government-aligned militias and called for recruits who have the technical know-how to put nearby oil facilities into operation. Libyan officials said they are worried it is only a matter of time before the radical fighters attempt to take over more oil fields and refineries near Sirte to boost their revenues—money that could fund attacks in the Middle East and Europe.

Sirte is a gateway to several major oil fields and refineries farther east on the same coast and Islamic State has targeted those installations in the past year.

“They have made their intentions clear,” said Ismail Shoukry, head of military intelligence for the region that includes Sirte. “They want to take their fight to Rome.”

Islamic State is benefiting from a conflict that has further weakened government control in Libya. For nearly a year, the U.S. and European powers have pointed to the Islamic State threat to press the rival governments to come to a power-sharing agreement. Despite a United Nations-brokered draft agreement for peace announced in October, neither side has taken steps to implement it.

A new U.N. envoy, Martin Kobler, was appointed this month to break the stalemate, part of efforts to find a political solution to counter the extremists’ expansion.

“We don’t have a real state. We have a fragmented government,” said Fathi Ali Bashaagha, a politician from the city of Misrata who participated in the U.N.-led negotiations. “Every day we delay on a political deal, it is a golden opportunity for Islamic State to grow.”

Since early 2014, two rival factions have ruled Libya, effectively dividing the country. In the east, an internationally recognized government based in the town of Tobruk has won the backing of regional powers Egypt and the United Arab Emirates. In the west, an Islamist-leaning government based in Tripoli has relied on Misrata fighting forces for political legitimacy.

Islamic State militants have successfully taken on and defeated myriad Libyan armed factions, including the powerful militias from Misrata which were the driving force behind the revolt that unseated longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi in 2011. Misrata, 150 miles west of Sirte, has recently come under sporadic Islamic State attacks.

Members of Misrata’s militias, who are loosely under the control of the western government in Tripoli, say they lack the support to mount an offensive against Islamic State. Earlier this month, the Tripoli government forced the Misrata militias into a humiliating prisoner swap with Islamic State.

“There will be no meaningful action without a political agreement,” said Abdullah al-Najjar, a field commander with the Brigade 166, an elite Misrata militia that engaged in a protracted fight with Islamic State on the outskirts of Sirte earlier this year. “You have to know you’re going to war with a government that is going to back you.”

This month, the U.S. launched an airstrike against Islamic State in Libya, its first against the group outside of Syria and Iraq. Officials said they believe the strike killed one of the top deputies of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. The deputy, Abu Nabil al-Anbari, had been sent to Libya last year to establish the group’s presence there.

In recent weeks, a flood of foreign recruits and their families have arrived in Sirte—another indication the group is becoming increasingly comfortable in its North African base, according to residents and activists from Sirte and Libyan military officials.

Islamic State has called on recruits to travel to Libya instead of trying to enter Syria, while commanders have repatriated Libyan fighters from Syria and Iraq, Libyan intelligence officials said.

“Sirte will be no less than Raqqa,” is a mantra often repeated by Islamic State leaders in the Libyan city during sermons and radio broadcasts, several residents and an activist from the city said. Raqqa is the group’s self-declared capital in Syria.

Like its mother organization in Syria, Islamic State has appointed foreign “emirs” in Sirte to administer its brutal brand of social control. Music, smoking and cellphone networks have been banned while women are only allowed to walk the streets in full cover. Morality police patrol in vehicles marked with Islamic State’s logo and courts administering Islamic law, or Shariah, as well as prisons have been set up.

With a population of about 700,000, Sirte was long known for being Gadhafi’s hometown and a stronghold of his supporters.

Soon after Libya’s uprising ended more than four decades of Gadhafi’s rule, he was killed in Sirte by fighters from Misrata.

Earlier this month, Islamic State reopened schools in the city, segregating students by gender and strictly enforcing an Islamic State approved curriculum. On Fridays, the traditional day of communal prayer, the group organizes public lectures and residents are often herded into public squares to witness executions and lashings of those who run afoul of the strict rules.

The seeds of Islamic State’s growth in Libya were planted after Gadhafi’s ouster. In the almost exclusively Sunni Muslim Libya, the Sunni extremist group exploited tribal and political rifts that lingered after the strongman’s death, particularly around Sirte.

Islamic State lured extremists from other groups under the Islamic State umbrella.

By June, Brigade 166, one of western Libya’s strongest armed brigades, abandoned a monthslong battle with the militants on Sirte’s outskirts. In August, Islamic State cemented their grip on the city, bringing the last holdout district under their control, officials and residents said.

Islamic State crushed an armed uprising in August in three days. It was sparked by local residents angered over the group’s killing of a young cleric who opposed the radicals. Militants publicly crucified several people who participated in the revolt and confiscated homes.

The brutality moved the internationally recognized government in eastern Libya to plead for military intervention by Arab nations and a lifting of a U.N. arms embargo on Libya in effect since 2011. But the support never came.

Unlike in Syria, the group has struggled to provide basic services. Gas stations are dry and residents are expected to smuggle in their own fuel—as long as it is not confiscated by Islamic State.

Hospitals have been abandoned after Islamic State ordered male and female staffers be segregated. The ill must travels miles to other cities for treatment, a trip that is often accompanied by difficult questioning and searches at Islamic State checkpoints.

“No services, just punishment,” said Omar,  a 33-year-old civil engineer who fled Sirte after taking part in the failed uprising against Islamic State. “Sirte has gone dark.”

Despite the challenges, Islamic State has big plans for Sirte. A recent edition of their propaganda magazine, Dabiq, featured an interview with Abu Mughirah al-Qahtani, who was described as “the delegated leader” for Islamic State in Libya. He vowed to use Libya’s geographic position—and its oil reserves—to disrupt Europe’s security and economy.

About 85% of Libya’s crude oil production in 2014 went to Europe, with Italy being the largest recipient. About half its natural gas production is exported to Italy.

“The control of Islamic State over this region will lead to economic breakdowns,” the leader of the Libyan operation said, “especially for Italy and the rest of the European states.”

Also see:

Hillary Clinton, Arms Dealer

hill

The dirty deals that put illegal arms shipments into the hands of Libyan jihadists.

Frontpage, by Arnold Ahlert, Nov. 9, 2015:

In a scathing column Fox News contributor Andrew Napolitano makes the convincing case that Hillary Clinton sold weapons to Libya in a direction violation of the U.N. arms embargo, and then lied about it under oath during her testimony before the House Select Committee on Benghazi Oct. 22.

“To pursue her goal of a ‘democratic’ government there, Clinton, along with Obama and a dozen or so members of Congress from both houses and both political parties, decided she should break the law by permitting U.S. arms dealers to violate the U.N. arms embargo and arm Libyan rebels whom she hoped would one day run the new government,” Napolitano explains. “So she exercised her authority as secretary of state to authorize the shipment of American-made arms to Qatar, a country beholden to the Muslim Brotherhood and friendly to the Libyan rebels and a country the U.S. had no business arming—unless the purpose of doing so was for the arms to be transferred to the rebels.”

Memos recovered from the incinerated compound in Benghazi give great weight to the assertion. The documents were obtained by the Washington Times and they reveal the American diplomats stationed there were keeping track of numerous potential U.S.-sanctioned weapons shipments aimed at arming our allies, “one or more of which were destined for the Transitional National Council, the Libyan movement that was seeking to oust Gadhafi and form a new government,” the paper reports.

A file marked “arms deal” reveals that one of those shipments was supposed to be sent by Dolarian Capital Inc. of Fresno, CA, one of many arms sellers that work with U.S. intelligence. The file contained an end use certificate from the State Department’s office of defense trade controls licensing, and Dolarian confirmed one of the licensing requests the State Department initially approved in 2011 was an authorization to send weapons to Libya via Kuwait. The certificate was inexplicably revoked before Dolarian could ship rocket and grenade launchers, 7,000 machine guns and 8 million rounds of ammunition originally manufactured by former Soviet-bloc nations in Eastern Europe.

“Dolarian Capital submitted the end user certificate in question to the U.S. Department of State for review and issuance of a license to transfer the arms and ammunition to Libya,” one of the company’s attorneys said in a statement issued to the Times. “The U.S. Department of State responded with a approval, which was revoked shortly thereafter. As a result no arms or ammunition was shipped or delivered to Libya under the end user certificate.”

Nonetheless, federal court documents obtained by Fox News reveal arms sales to Libyan rebels that occurred during Clinton’s tenure as Secretary of State were ultimately transacted. “It was then, and remains now, my opinion that the United States did participate, directly or indirectly, in the supply of weapons to the Libyan Transitional National Council,” stated career CIA officer David Manners in a sworn declaration to the District Court of Arizona on May 5, 2015.

Manners’ testimony was part of a grand jury investigation into American defense contractor Marc Turi and his company Turi Defense Group, another entity licensed by State to sell and transport weapons worldwide. The investigation was focused on both the source and user of weapons defined in court documents as “end user” or “end use”  that were entering Libya in 2011 while Qaddafi’s regime was collapsing–but before any Libyan opposition groups were formally recognized by the United States.

Turi illuminated what occurred in the midst of that chaos, including the reality that poor oversight of the operation allowed America’s enemies to obtain weapons. “When this equipment landed in Libya, half went one way, and the half went the other way,”  Turi said. “The half that went the other way is the half that ended up in Syria.”

Turi admitted to Fox he had criminal past that included stealing a computer, his roommate’s car, and writing several bad checks including one for $100,000 dollars. They verified his arrest, conviction and a stint in an Arizona jail, all of which seemingly conflict with what Fox characterizes as the “painstaking compliance” required to get the “necessary approvals set by strict US government regulations” to become a licensed arms contractor.

Turi was one cog in a rather large machine of State Department-licensed contractors awarded a record number of contract during Clinton’s tenure. “More than 86-thousand licenses with a value of $44.3 billion dollars were granted in 2011… a surge of more than $10 billion dollars from the previous year,” the news site reports.

Turi, who provided documents to Fox revealing exchanges with officials inside and outside the government, including high level members of Congress, the military, and State Department employees, explains he was part of a “zero footprint” supply chain whereby one Arab nation would supply another. “If you want to  limit the exposure to the US government, what you simply do is outsource it to your allies,” Turi explained. “The partners-the Qataris, and the Emiratis did exactly what they were contracted to do.” Turi claims he never sent weapons to Qatar and that such transactions are handled by the government and the State Department’s Bureau of Political and Military Affairs headed by Clinton aide Andrew Shapiro, who oversaw State’s export control process.

Read more

Amplifying Details on the Sinai Plane Bombing and the Egypt-Libya Nexus

Source: Associated Free Press/Getty Images (Maxim Grigoryev)

Source: Associated Free Press/Getty Images (Maxim Grigoryev)

The ISIS Study Group, Nov. 7, 2015:

The last few days have been filled with a flurry of information regarding the downing of Flight 7K9268. Within the last 18 hrs we’ve received amplifying information from our sources in the country. Our sources within the Egyptian Directorate of Military Intelligence (DMI) confirmed that Russian investigators found the remnants of the explosive device we were talking about in our 03 NOV “Sinai Plane Crash Update.” Furthermore, the running theory of those investigators is that depressurization caused by an internal explosion tore off the tail section, causing the plane to flip over and send it to the ground. When we asked one of our sources if 500 grams of C4 could cause that, he answered back that it wouldn’t take much to bring a plane down, especially if the device was placed near the fuel line – which is what DMI assesses to be the case. Another source working with Russia’s Health Ministry Center for Forensic Medical Expertise confirmed that parts of an explosive device was uncovered.

As for the operative who emplaced the device on the plane, we’ve confirmed that the individual did not receive any assistance from a member of the security forces – because he’s a member of the security forces himself. The individual in question used his position to circumvent the 8 explosive detection systems and security checkpoints located at the airport in order to get to his target. DMI knew how this went down fairly quickly, although our sources couldn’t answer how this fell through the cracks, although they did imply that the security forces are plagued with serious internal issues due to the rising insider threat. However, Sharm al-Sheik Airport Chief Abdel-Wahab Ali was removed from his position due to these major security lapses. The fact that the British government aired these very same concerns LAST YEAR made the decision to remove him much easier.

The Latest: Sharm El-Sheikh Airport Chief Has Been Replaced
http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2015/11/04/world/middleeast/ap-egypt-russian-plane-crash-the-latest.html?_r=0

UK had concerns about Sharm el-Sheikh airport security almost a year ago
http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/nov/05/uk-had-concerns-sharm-el-sheikh-airport-security-year-ago-egyptian-beach-resort

Sinai Plane Crash Update
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=9184

Islamic State-Sinai (IS-Sinai) aka “Wilayat Sinai (WS)”: Just entered the next stage of Operations Source: The ISIS Study Group

Islamic State-Sinai (IS-Sinai) aka “Wilayat Sinai (WS)”: Just entered the next stage of Operations
Source: The ISIS Study Group

Adding further weight to what we’ve been saying is that the Black Box reveals that the crash was not an accident. More importantly, the media (and some Western governments) are saying what we first mentioned in our “Sinai Plane Crash Update.” Excerpt:

European investigators who analyzed the two flight recorders from the Metrojet plane that went down last weekend in Egypt are categorically saying the crash is not an accident, CNN affiliate France 2 reported Friday.

The investigators said the cockpit voice recorder of Metrojet Flight 9268 shows an explosion and the flight data recorder confirms the explosion is not accidental — there is no sign of mechanical malfunction during the initial part of the flight, France 2 reported.

Everything is fine during the first 24 minutes, then in a fraction of a second there is a blackout and no more cockpit conversation, convincing investigators there was a bomb on board, according to France 2.

CNN Aviation Analyst Richard Quest said there would have been different data on the black boxes if there was a catastrophic failure than if there was an explosion. The key is what happened just before the data suddenly stops, he said.

“It’s this split second, and it’s a millisecond, where you hear an explosion of some description,” he said. “And you see all the parameters (on the recorders) go haywire before the power is completely lost. If this report is accurate, (investigators) have now analyzed that … heard it and they can identify it.”

If the plane had broken apart due to structural failure, there would have been more noise — and for a longer time, he said.

France’s air accident investigation agency, the BEA, told CNN that Egyptian officials will make an announcement about the crash investigation within the next 24 hours.

Report: Black boxes show bomb brought down Russian jet
http://www.cnn.com/2015/11/06/middleeast/russian-plane-crash-egypt-sinai/

Media now talking about the bomb being placed in the cargo hold among the luggage near the fuel line Source: CNN

Media now talking about the bomb being placed in the cargo hold among the luggage near the fuel line
Source: CNN

This wasn’t the first time WS gained access to an Egyptian airport either. Last year they recruited an employee at Cairo International Airport who provided Team Baghdadi with schematics of the facility, locations of guard postings and security procedures. Fortunately, DMI found out and arrested him before the attack plan was set into motion – which was the same plan carried out in Sharm al-Sheik. This was one of a long list of incidents – many of which were never reported by the country’s media outlets – that led to GEN Sisi authorizing the DMI to lead the crackdown on the insider threat within the security forces. From MAY 15 – JUL 15 several junior and mid-level officers within the Army were detained for either being sympathizers or full-fledged members of WS. There’s also been an increase in military personnel refusing to carry out missions against WS – not because they’re “scared” – because they “didn’t want to kill their Muslim Brothers” (which is a red flag since most Muslims would never consider IS as their “Muslim Brothers”). For the most part the military has been the main advocate for moderate Islam and secularism. Unfortunately, that all changed when the Muslim Brotherhood’s Muhammad Morsi rose to power, where he quickly began to sack “problematic” (read-those of moderate Islam or secular leanings) officers. Then he began to fill the ranks with those he reflected his values – in other words, guys with extremist views. The result was a new breed of officers in the junior and mid-level ranks who were very sympathetic to the ideologies of al-Qaida (of which the MB is closely-aligned) and IS. WS’ increase in capability is a good indicator of the success they’ve had in recruiting personnel with formal military experience (Check out “ISIS-Sinai Beheads Croatian Hostage – Just the Beginning” for additional info).

ISIS-Sinai Beheads Croatian Hostage – Just the Beginning
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=8195

Egypt’s insider threat: Morsi’s legacy Source: Sharif Abdel Minoem (Associated Press)

Egypt’s insider threat: Morsi’s legacy
Source: Sharif Abdel Minoem (Associated Press)

The bombing of that Russian airliner is the beginning of WS and IS’ Libya affiliate entering into a new phase of Team Baghdadi’s overall global campaign of conducting high-profile attacks outside of Syria and Iraq. WS followed up the plane bombing with another attack targeting an officer’s club that killed three policemen. But that’s just the start – WS fully intends to expand their operations to targeting Russians and Western tourists to both cripple Egypt’s tourism industry (which would result in significant economic damage) and retaliating for Russia’s Syria intervention. The indicators were all there with the sharp increase in the frequency and scale of attacks carried out by WS in Sinai throughout the year and this past summer in particular (Reference – “Sinai Under Siege Rising capabilities of Wilayat Sinai”). That said, the first real indicators of WS’ increased capabilities was seen as early as JAN 14 when they shot down an Egyptian military helicopter in the Sinai with a MANPAD that was traced back to one of the Qaddafi regime weapons depots that was raided by so-called “moderates” during the early days of the “Arab Spring.” In AUG 15 another attempt was made by WS to bring down an aircraft – this time a Thomson Airways airliner – as it was heading to Sharm al-Sheik Airport. Fortunately the pilot was able to perform evasive maneuvers and avoid being brought down (See the Guardian’s article titled, “Sharm el-Sheikh flight from Stansted dodged missile in August” and our initial piece on the Sinai crash, “Islamic State Claims to Have Shot-Down Russian Plane in Sinai – But Did They?”).

Egypt: 3 police officers killed in North Sinai bombing
http://www.cnn.com/2015/11/04/africa/egypt-north-sinai-bombing/

Militants Down Egyptian Helicopter, Killing 5 Soldiers
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/27/world/middleeast/militants-down-egyptian-helicopter-killing-5-soldiers.html

Sharm el-Sheikh flight from Stansted dodged missile in August
http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/nov/06/missed-by-a-1000-feet-how-british-holidaymakers-came-close-to-being-hit-by-a-missile-in-august?CMP=twt_gu

Sinai Under Siege Rising capabilities of Wilayat Sinai (WS)
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=7587

Islamic State Claims to Have Shot-Down Russian Plane in Sinai – But Did They?
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=9157

This is just a quick snapshot of attacks that occurred in JUL 15 Source: The ISIS Study Group

This is just a quick snapshot of attacks that occurred in JUL 15
Source: The ISIS Study Group

WS also wanted to show Baghdadi that they’re an effective force capable of achieving the objectives of his external operations campaign, but also to justify that their request for additional funding. This was also a bid for obtaining heavier weaponry from IS’ Libya affiliate, who sends weapons and supplies to Syria – some of which goes through Sinai (Check out “The Strategic Importance of Egypt to ISIS,” “2015: The Year of ISIS Expansion From Gaza to North Africa” and “The ISIS Expansion Into North Africa” for more details). We don’t think Libyan IS Emir Abu Nail will satisfy that request until after he seizes Darnah – which IS was driven out of back in JUN 15. As of this writing, IS-Libya has been busy consolidating its forces in the al-Fatayeh-area located Southeast of the city. That area is the likely staging-area from which the offensive to retake the town will be launched. The Libyan affiliate is facing a tough fight as they’re forced to take on several other opposition groups of varying jihadist flavors as well as the forces of the Egypt-back Libyan GEN Khalifa Haftar.

For the third time, Haftar’s forces fail to control Derna
https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/africa/20744-for-the-third-time-haftars-forces-fail-to-control-derna

Isis in Libya: Islamic State driven out of Derna stronghold by al-Qaeda-linked militia
http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/isis-libya-islamic-state-driven-out-derna-stronghold-by-al-qaeda-linked-militia-1506241

ISIS responsible for most Libya killings: ICC prosecutor
https://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Middle-East/2015/Nov-06/321833-isis-responsible-for-most-libya-killings-icc-prosecutor.ashx

ISIS In Libya? Gadhafi Sirte Residence Searched By Islamic State For Hidden Money: Report
http://www.ibtimes.com/isis-libya-gadhafi-sirte-residence-searched-islamic-state-hidden-money-report-2139456

Warplanes bomb Libya’s Sirte, target Islamic State: witness
http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/10/29/us-libya-security-idUSKCN0SN2JM20151029

The Strategic Importance of Egypt to ISIS
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=1392

2015: The Year of ISIS Expansion From Gaza to North Africa
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=5248

The ISIS Expansion Into North Africa…
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=3257

IS’ Libya affiliate is the terror organization’s most-developed branch and has become a critical part of Baghdadi’s vision of being able to project power outside of Syria/Iraq. Its worth noting that the Libya affiliate has been tasked with providing material support to other affiliates in North Africa in addition to WS and the main effort in Syria. WS actually receives a great deal of their financial support from the Libya affiliate. In fact so much influence has been placed on bolstering the Libya affiliate that some foreign fighters have actually been diverted there. Our sources report the presence of fighters from France, Germany, Egypt, Algeria, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Canada and one unconfirmed report of Americans serving among the ranks. Recent reporting also suggests that a group of Indonesian jihadists are projected to be entering the country for this same purpose – other sources imply that they may have already arrived. Not only is Libya an alternative for foreign fighters who aspire to wage jihad but can’t make the trip to Syria, its a training ground for select personnel who get sent back to their countries of origin to establish their own attack networks and conduct the cell-based external operations that the IS leadership has been transitioning to over the last few months (For more info on this transition to cell-based external OPs, check out “Neil Prakash and Friends – an Update” and “Nail in the Coffin: ISIS’ Anwar al-Awlaqi BN Sends Fighters to Europe”). Think of it as IS’ way of “diversifying their terror portfolio” for their goal of launching such attacks in the West.

Neil Prakash and Friends – an Update
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=8862

The Loss of Key ISIS External OPs Figures and the Anwar al-Awlaqi Battalion
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=8467

Nail in the Coffin: ISIS’ Anwar al-Awlaqi BN Sends Fighters to Europe
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=8562

With all this happening, what’s next for Vlad? Make no mistake, he’s going to respond – and when he does, people are either going to die or “disappear.” The big mistake the IS mothership in Syria and the Sinai affiliate made is thinking that Vlad is as soft and flaccid as President Obama. They’re going to find out real quick just how big of a mistake they made once he expands his intervention in Syria (although there will be challenges-more on that in another article) followed by enhanced collaboration with the Sisi regime – which has been steadily moving away from America and getting closer to Russia for well over a year (Check out “Egypt Atmospherics” for more details). On the flip side we assess that IS’ Caucasus affiliate (made up mostly of remnants of Imarat Kavkaz or “IK”) are going to become very active in launching attacks inside Russia itself. Although the media seized on the fact that Syria is one of Vlad’s client states, what didn’t get any real coverage are the 2,500-3,000 Russian nationals currently fighting under the IS banner in Syria – many of which are of Chechen/Dagestani/Tajik ethnicity (Reference the following for additional info – “Russia Poised to Increase Military Presence in Middle East in Response to Islamic State’s Strength,” “Islamic State’s Expansion into the Caucasus Region,” “Gulmurod Khalimov Update – His Militant Views May Not Be a Recent Development” and “Introducing Tajik Special Police COL Gulmurod Khalimov: Islamic State Defector”). At some point those foreign fighters are going to return to Mother Russia. A few already have. So if you thought this high-profile attack was an “isolated incident” that only affects Egypt, you thought wrong.

Egypt Atmospherics…
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=614

Russia Poised to Increase Military Presence in Middle East in Response to Islamic State’s Strength
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=8416

Islamic State’s Expansion into the Caucasus Region
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=6880

Gulmurod Khalimov Update – His Militant Views May Not Be a Recent Development
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=7760

Introducing Tajik Special Police COL Gulmurod Khalimov: Islamic State Defector
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=7027

Egyptian locals are increasingly “Pro-Vlad” – but aren’t big fans of President Obama Source: The ISIS Study Group

Egyptian locals are increasingly “Pro-Vlad” – but aren’t big fans of President Obama
Source: The ISIS Study Group

Other Related Articles:

Haftar-Sisi Alliance: The Roadblock to ISIS Bridge Into the Maghreb
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=5033

Egypt Strikes ISIS Positions in Libya: Moderate Muslims Rise Up Against Terror
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=4889

Egypt and UAE Launch Airstrikes in Libya – US Kept in the Dark
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=1302

Is Egypt Planning Military Intervention in Libya?
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=584

Jordan Steps Up Airstrikes Against ISIS, Egypt Launches New Sinai Offensive
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=4669

Egyptian Army and IDF Take On ISIS Supporters in Sinai
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=1500

Egyptian Army Hits Back At ISIS In Sinai
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=2410

ISIS Plots to Bring the “Flames of War” to US, UK and Australia
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=6431&

Pete Hoekstra at The Heritage Foundation discussing his new book ‘Architects of Disaster: The Destruction of Libya’

architects-of-disasterIPT, by Pete Hoekstra
The Heritage Foundation
November 2, 2015

In his new book, Architects of Disaster: The Destruction of Libya, former House Intelligence Committee Chairman Pete Hoekstra offers a thorough analysis of how a disastrous foreign policy led to Libya becoming a failed state on the shores of the Mediterranean.

Now serving as the Shillman Senior Fellow with the Investigative Project on Terrorism, Hoekstra details how America’s tragic intervention in the North African country turned an island of relative stability into a nexus of radical Islamist terrorist training, ideology, and weapons transfers; sowed the seeds of ISIS in Syria and Iraq; and led to the humanitarian crisis in Europe.

Hoekstra reflects on the truth behind former Secretary of State Clinton’s shifting claims before the House Select Committee on Benghazi about whether a spontaneous anti-Muslim video or well-coordinated al-Qaeda-affiliated terrorists were behind the September 11, 2012 attack on the U.S. facility. Drawing upon insider sources and a depth of experience, Hoekstra offers a penetrating look at how a naïve foreign policy resulted in catastrophe.

Clinton’s Infamous Legacy

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“Hillary Clinton is a serial liar.” – Michael Ingmire, Foreign Service Officer Sean Smith’s uncle (October 22nd 2015)

by Justin O. Smith:

The Benghazi Committee hearing on October 22, 2015 spotlighted former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s continued predilection to prevaricate and obfuscate and obstruct the truth on anything, especially regarding the attacks on the U.S. Consulate at Benghazi. Between Clinton’s lies and Obama’s facilitation of the cover-up and top Democrats’ willingness to place their imprimatur on gross negligence, incompetence and treason, Americans are still far away from receiving the full, unadulterated truth on this horrible and despicable episode of the Obama/Clinton Middle East Doctrine; however, from all the available evidence, Hillary Clinton is damned and unfit for any public office, much less the Office of the President.

Three years after the attacks on our U.S. Consulate and hundreds of FOIA requests later, Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) has only just now (Oct 20th) received approximately 1400 pages of Ambassador Chris Stevens’ emails. These emails verify,among other things, Clinton knew for a fact and within minutes that a terror attack was unfolding, not a “spontaneous protest.” Also bearing witness against Clinton, over 600 emails from Ambassador Stevens requesting added security were ignored and supposedly never reached Clinton’s desk, according to Clinton’s own highly questionable testimony.

A good bit of acrimony arose during the hearing over the pertinence of Clinton’s email communications with Sydney Blumenthal, a long time friend, employee and paid consultant for the Clinton Foundation, to which Rep. Trey Gowdy answered: “It’s relevant because our Ambassador [Stevens] was asked to read and respond to Sydney Blumenthal’s drivel. And yet, there was not a single response to Ambassador Stevens regarding his multiple requests for added security.”

However, when Uma Abedin emailed Clinton that the Libyan people were in dire need of food, milk, gasoline and diesel fuel, Clinton answered her within four minutes.

In incredibly ill-advised fashion, Clinton followed Blumenthal’s advice on Libya, even though he knew nothing about Libya. She did so for financial gain that Blumenthal suggested would arrive, if she helped retired Lt General Grange, the Osprey Group, a CIA agent and other partners gain entry into the Libyan economy; and, she did so in order to take credit for Blumenthal’s determination that the fall of Gaddafi would serve as a model for removing Middle Eastern dictators, blind to the bulwark that these Baathist dictators, like Saadam Hussein and Bashar Assad, provided secularists, Christians and other religious minorities against the islamofascists.

Even though Blumenthal had been refused a position at the State Department by Obama’s aides, his direct line to Hillary Clinton gave him an inordinate amount of influence that circumvented proper procedures for assessing “intelligence”, and this bled into President Obama’s policy decisions. Not only did Clinton strongly recommend military action in Libya to Obama, she also promoted regime change at NATO and played a key role in holding the entire coalition of Western nations together, according to one close advisor.

Significantly, it is apparent from emails sent to Clinton and three members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on March 18, 2011 at 7:27 EST, that Saif Gaddafi, Muammar’s son, sought a face-to-face meeting or a Skype/ teleconference in order to arrive at a peaceful solution. Clinton instructed Lt. Gen. Charles Jacoby, who was directing plans for the coalition and NATO, not to take any calls from Saif; the following day U.S. airstrikes began on Libya.

On March 11, 2011, the ‘Washington Post’ ran an op-ed by Clinton’s “old friend”, retired General Wesley Clark that warned against the Libyan intervention. Four days later, the ‘Ottawa Citizen’ published the Canadian report submitted to NATO that stated Gaddafi’s removal would create a long-term civil war, but Clinton ignored all warnings.

In the days that followed, Muammar Gaddafi was killed, and rather than a new democratic Libyan state led by “moderates”, a new Islamic hell-hole emerged. AFRICOM issued 4500 pages of intelligence between January 2012 and Sept 11, 2012 that described the increase in terrorist activity. A Defense Intelligence Agency report from August 2012 indicated that weapons from Libya’s military stockpile – rifles, RPGs, 125mm and 155mm howitzer ammo – were moving from the port of Benghazi to Banias and Borj Islam, Syria and into the hands of Salafists, the Muslim Brotherhood and AQI, the main forces behind the insurgency in Syria.

In the District Court of Arizona on May 5th 2015, experienced CIA officer David Manners offered this sworn statement: “It was then, and remains now, my opinion that the United States did participate, directly or indirectly, in the supply of weapons to the Libyan Transitional National Council.”

Hillary Clinton’s State Dept. illegally armed the islamofascists of Libya and Syria (Fox News), as shown in federal court documents from May 5th 2015, by awarding contracts approaching $300 million to defense contractors, like Marc Turi, in March 2011, for the purpose of arming the Libyan Transitional National Council and the Libyan rebels, who were not formally recognized at the time. This same action makes both Clinton and Pres. Obama culpable in the murders of Ambassador Chris Stevens, Sean Smith, tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty, since these same weapons were used by these same Libyan “rebels”/ islamofascists approximately eighteen months later: Both Clinton and Obama should be behind bars for treason.

Clinton stated this past Thursday – Oct. 22nd – that “there was no credible, actionable threat described to our compound and our diplomatic group”, which is inaccurate and simply false. On June 10th 2011, Clinton’s deputy chief of staff, Jake Sullivan, emailed information of a “credible threat … against the hotel that our [diplomatic] team is using.” Chris Stevens had also requested more security for this same hotel two months before the Sullivan communique.

Seven previous Congressional investigations have failed to interview a single person who was actually on the ground at Benghazi on September 11, 2012 __ no Diplomatic Security Command Center personnel and no CIA agents or paid operatives. So, America has witnessed seven incomplete investigations, hindered by the Obama administration’s slow response to FOIA requests, which Chairman Gowdy hopes to rectify and complete through an additional twenty witnesses’ testimony.

“Ambassador Stevens, Foreign Service Officer Sean Smith, and former SEALs Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty served this country with honor. It is important to learn how these four men died … We owe them and ourselves the truth about Benghazi and Libya … There is no statute of limitations on the truth.” – Rep. Trey Gowdy

Questions linger, such as, what was happening in Libya that required a diplomatic presence despite the escalating violence?

Why were our military contractors and our diplomatic team left to defend themselves for approximately nine hours, when the 173rd Airborne Infantry was in Italy, only two hours away by C-130?

Obama and Hillary Clinton created the situation that has turned Libya and Syria into mass graves, claiming four of America’s finest early on. With characters devoid of honor and integrity, these two have left America with a memory of a despicable and treacherous act of terrorism, yet to see any retribution extracted. They leave a legacy of infamy and failure in the wake of Benghazi: A day of reckoning is certainly on its way for both, and Clinton’s reckoning should include prison, not the U.S. Presidency.

***

Hillary’s Libya Post-War Plan Was ‘Play It by Ear,’ Gates Says

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Daily Beast, by Nancy A. Youssef, Oct. 20, 2015:
She still defends the invasion as ‘smart power at its best.’ But war backers like Clinton had no plan for securing the country, says ex-Pentagon chief Bob Gates.
When Hillary Clinton appears before Congress’s special committee on Benghazi Thursday, she’ll likely be asked all the wrong questions.Clinton will be peppered with queries about why she kept a private email server, what caused the 2012 attacks on the U.S. special consulate in Benghazi, and how come U.S. forces didn’t respond more quickly to the strikes. But the really important issues—the questions longstanding followers of the U.S. and NATO intervention want answered—are: Why did Hillary Clinton push for strikes that contributed to the fall of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi? And why didn’t the Obama administration bother to plan for the all-too-predictable chaos that came next?In 2011, as the United States considered intervention, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was among those who pushed for intervention—without resolving just how Libya would be governed after Gaddafi, according to a senior defense official who was part of the decision-making process. Obama advisers like Samantha Power and Susan Rice also made the case alongside Clinton. They argued the U.S. had a moral obligation to save lives in Benghazi facing a threatened genocide by Libyan dictator Gaddafi. The only strategy spelled out publicly was that the Europeans’ newly formed “Libyan Transitional Council” would be at the forefront of the effort. Washington was “leading from behind,” to use a famous phrase from the era.

As then-Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, who opposed the U.S. intervention, frustratingly explained to The Daily Beast: “We were playing it by ear.”

And the consequences of that improvisation are still being felt today. The country is an epicenter of the refugee crisis sweeping the Middle East, North Africa, and Europe. Part of Libya is under the control of the self-proclaimed Islamic State. And the Russians use the U.S.-NATO intervention in Libya to justify their own military incursions in places like Syria.

But to Clinton, Libya was—and still remains—a major achievement. “We came, we saw, he died,” she crowed in October 2011. “Smart power at its best” is how Clinton described it during the most recent Democratic debate.

Clinton campaign aides note that she spent months working with the Libyan parliament to craft a successful state in both the run-up to American intervention and afterward, all while honoring a Libyan request for limited Western intervention. Above all else, the aides stress, the United States had a moral obligation to act in Libya.

“The alternative was so bleak, we simply had to take action,” one aide to the Clinton campaign told The Daily Beast.

President Obama, however, didn’t see things quite that way. He was reportedly reluctant about the operation—until Clinton, Rice, and Power swayed him, over Gates’s objections. “Clinton won the bureaucratic battle to use DOD [Department of Defense] resources to achieve what’s essentially the State Department’s objective,” Steve Clemons, then an analyst with the administration-friendly New America Foundation, told Foreign Policy at the time.

According to Gates, Obama told his advisers that he was 51/49 in favor of intervening. The ratio is telling. According to the New York Times Magazine, Obama was 55/45 about conducting the May 2011 raid that eventually killed Osama bin Laden.

And when Obama finally agreed to the operation, he stressed “Operation Odyssey Dawn” would be a limited effort to protect civilians from a possible genocide by the Libyan government. Removing Gaddafi was the last thing he wanted to do.

“If we tried to overthrow Gaddafi by force, our coalition would splinter. We would likely have to put U.S. troops on the ground to accomplish that mission, or risk killing many civilians from the air,” Obama said in March of 2011. “To be blunt, we went down that road in Iraq… [R]egime change there took eight years, thousands of American and Iraqi lives, and nearly a trillion dollars. That is not something we can afford to repeat in Libya.”

But repetition is exactly what happened. Attacks spread from the eastern city of Benghazi, where civilians were endangered, to the Libyan capital of Tripoli, 635 miles away. No one ever explained why the change in goal or who might succeed Gaddafi afterward.

During revolutionary-era Libya, no one in the upper ranks of the U.S. government seriously considered whether the newly created Transitional National Council, a rival government in rebel-held areas like Benghazi, could govern the oil-rich state. Nor did Clinton or top leaders ask about unintended consequences of an air campaign, especially if it successfully ended Gaddafi’s 42-year rule, according to the senior defense official who was part of the conversation at the time. And as the country was falling apart, it seems no one in the higher reaches of Clinton’s department took note. If they did, they did not take action.

As secretary of state, it was Clinton’s job to ask questions about the state of Libya, both before the intervention and after. She was secretary when the intervention began—and when the U.S. presence in Benghazi ended with a deadly attack. And while she held talks in the early months after Gaddafi’s death, Libya became largely a public afterthought. In the email caches released so far from her personal account, former adviser Sidney Blumenthal repeatedly kept Libya before Clinton, sharing his views of the situation, at the time contradicting the diplomats working for Clinton. Blumenthal, a longtime adviser to both Clinton and President Clinton, was not an expert on the region.

Read more

Also see:

During the so-called Arab Spring, new governments rose to power in Libya and Egypt with support from the U.S. But, instead of a new era of democracy, the result has been a disastrous expansion of Islamic extremist terrorism. Former head of the House Intelligence Committee, Republican Pete Hoekstra spoke about his new book focusing on the topic with Full Measure.