US smuggling weapons to Syrian rebels: The real Benghazi story

By Daya Gamage:

Washington, D.C. 16 May (Asiantribune.com):

There is a ‘side story’ going on in the American media – both the electronic and print about the Islamist jihadists lethal attack on the American ‘post’ in Benghazi, Libya last September 11 which killed American ambassador Christopher Steven and three others; The emphasis and the debate is on why the event was twisted by the Obama administration to conceal a terrorist attack on eve of the presidential election.

US Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens killed in attack on 11 September 2012

With the killing of Osama bin Larden on May 2 last year the administration, which was approaching the re-election of Mr. Obama in November, wants to convince the American people that the al Qaeda was now annihilated for good.

When the Islamist jihadist group affiliated to al Qaeda lethally attacked the American ‘post’ in Benghazi the Obama administration twisted the events to convince that a anti-Islamic video produced by someone in California was the cause of the attack.

These days the highlights and debate is about why the ‘talking points’ were changed twelve times to give that different picture.

As Obama rightfully said a couple of days ago about this debate, mostly spearheaded by the Republicans, was a ‘side show.’

The ‘real show’ is in fact buried. And the ‘real show’ is that the United States, Ambassador Steven playing a major role, was in the process of shipping arms to Syrian rebels to topple Basher el-Assad’s regime.

It was on October 25 last year that FoxNews.com broke the story that a mysterious Libyan ship was reportedly carrying weapons and bound for Syrian rebels would have had some link to the September 11 terror attack on the U.S. ‘post’ in Benghazi.

Why do we use the term ‘post’ in this report? Because when changes were made to the Benghazi attack story by the Obama administration it changed from ‘American Consulate’ to ‘American Post’. The reason: Benghazi operation was entirely a CIA operation.

Through shipping records, Fox News has confirmed that the Libyan-flagged vessel Al Entisar, which means “The Victory,” was received in the Turkish port of Iskenderun — 35 miles from the Syrian border — on Sept. 6, just five days before Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other American officers were killed during an extended assault by more than 100 Islamist militants.

On the night of Sept. 11, in what would become his last known public meeting, Stevens met with the Turkish Consul General Ali Sait Akin, and escorted him out of the ‘posts’ front gate one hour before the assault began.

Although what was discussed at the meeting is not public, a source told Fox News that Stevens was in Benghazi to negotiate a weapons transfer, an effort to get SA-7 missiles out of the hands of Libya-based extremists. And although the negotiation said to have taken place may have had nothing to do with the attack on the consulate later that night or the Libyan mystery ship, it could explain why Stevens was travelling in such a volatile region on the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

When asked to comment, a State Department spokeswoman dismissed the idea, saying Stevens was there for diplomatic meetings, and to attend the opening of a cultural center.

According to an initial Sept. 14 report by the Times of London, Al Entisar was carrying 400 tons of cargo. Some of it was humanitarian, but also reportedly weapons, described by the report as the largest consignment of weapons headed for Syria’s rebels on the frontlines.

The cargo reportedly included surface-to-air anti-aircraft missiles, RPG’s and Russian-designed shoulder-launched missiles known as MANPADS.

In March 2011 Stevens became the official U.S. liaison to the al-Qaeda-linked Libyan opposition, working directly with Abdelhakim Belhadj of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group—a group that has now disbanded, with some fighters reportedly participating in the attack that took Stevens’ life.

In November 2011 The Telegraph reported that Belhadj, acting as head of the Tripoli Military Council, “met with Free Syrian Army [FSA] leaders in Istanbul and on the border with Turkey” in an effort by the new Libyan government to provide money and weapons to the growing insurgency in Syria.

The Internet Media reported at that time that Ambassador Stevens had only one person—Belhadj—between himself and the Benghazi man who brought heavy weapons to Syria.

The Asian Tribune has also found that the Internet Media further reported that if the new Libyan government was sending seasoned Islamic fighters and 400 tons of heavy weapons to Syria through a port in southern Turkey—a deal brokered by Stevens’ primary Libyan contact during the Libyan revolution—then the governments of Turkey and the U.S. surely knew about it.

Furthermore there was a CIA post in Benghazi, located 1.2 miles from the U.S. consulate, used as “a base for, among other things, collecting information on the proliferation of weaponry looted from Libyan government arsenals, including surface-to-air missiles” … and that its security features “were more advanced than those at rented villa where Stevens died.”

As noted earlier, the Obama administration has since described the American facility in Benghazi not as a ‘Consulate’ but as a ‘Post’.

The U.S. Republican Senator Rand Paul, who is expected to run for his party presidential nomination in the year 2016, was the only American lawmaker who disclosed about this ‘arms deal’ which he connects to Ambassador Steven’s brutal muder in the hands of the Islamist Jihadists.

In an interview aired on CNN May 9 evening, Sen. Paul said he hasn’t ruled out the possibility that last year’s attack unfolded as a result of a secret arms trade. The confusion in the immediate aftermath of the event — including unfounded admissions from America’s United Nations envoy Susan Rice that contradicted what is known today about the attack — could actually be a cover-up, the senator said.

The Obama administration sent its ambassador to UN Susan Rice on the following Sunday talk shows to say that the offending Islamic video was the cause of the attack in Benghazi.

“I’ve actually always suspected that, although I have no evidence, that maybe we were facilitating arms leaving Libya going through Turkey into Syria,” he said.

Read more

‘White Out’ on Benghazi: State Dept. Issues Report

Attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Sept. 11, 2012. (Photo: Reuters)

Attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Sept. 11, 2012. (Photo: Reuters)

The real issue — which is what the CIA, the State Department or anyone in the U.S. government has been doing backing regime change operations across the Middle East and North Africa region in the company of and for the benefit of Al-Qaeda and Muslim Brotherhood jihadis — never gets addressed, much less explained by the ARB or anyone else.

by: Clare Lopez

On December 19, 2012, Ambassador Thomas Pickering, Chairman of the State Department (DoS) Accountability Review Board (ARB) delivered the ‘White-Out” report on Benghazi that he’d been selected to provide. “White-Out” is the perfect term for this report, as Diana West notes, because the entire senior national security leadership of the U.S. is completely missing from it. There is simply no mention whatsoever of President Barack Obama, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, UN Ambassador Susan Rice, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper or the disgraced former CIA Director David Petraeus.

According to Pickering, who was hand-picked by the Obama administration to head the ARB, none of these officials had anything to do with the failure to provide the reliable armed, trained security that the Benghazi Mission asked for repeatedly and was denied, or for the catastrophic outcome of the terror assault on the mission the night of September 11, 2012 that took the lives of Ambassador Christopher Stevens, Information Officer Sean Smith and two former Navy SEAL CIA security contractors, Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods.

Instead, four lower-ranking State Department officials took the fall: Eric Boswell, the assistant secretary of state for diplomatic security; Charlene Lamb, the deputy assistant secretary responsible for embassy security; Raymond Maxwell, the deputy assistant secretary of state for North Africa; and an unidentified official in the Bureau of Diplomatic Security all resigned on  December 19, after the Pickering report cited a “grossly inadequate” security posture at the Benghazi mission.

This is very convenient, of course, because none of those truly responsible for what happened at Benghazi that night is called to account in the Pickering White-Out for establishing the policies in the first place that sent Americans to work with treacherous Al-Qaeda militias in Libya that ultimately turned on their long-time comrade-in-arms, Christopher Stevens, and killed him.

It is strange, though, that the report would mention that there were “known gaps…in the intelligence community’s understanding of extremist militias in Libya and the potential threat they posed to U.S. interests, although some threats were known to exist.”

Al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri’s September 10, 2012 video call for revenge for the June 2012 drone killing of his deputy, the Libyan Abu Yahya al-Libi, doesn’t seem to have made the cut for “immediate, specific tactical warning” and the Pickering White-Out doesn’t even mention the possibility that this message from the commander of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) affiliates just possibly could have been the “green light” for the September 11 attack.

In any case, though, the White House, State Department and Intelligence Community should have been extremely familiar with some of these militia characters, having engaged together with them in the jihad struggle against Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi for so many months.

There was Abdelhakim Belhadj, for instance. He was the former self-described jihadist leader of the Al-Qaeda-linked Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LFG) who, on behalf of the new, liberated Libyan government, later went on to join forces with the similarly Al-Qaeda-linked Syrian Free Army rebels.

Read more at Radical Islam

Clare Lopez is a senior fellow at RadicalIslam.org and a strategic policy and intelligence expert with a focus on the Middle East, national defense and counterterrorism. Lopez served for 20 years as an operations officer with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

Muslim Brotherhood Fox Was Hired To Protect Our Benghazi Consulate Henhouse

LIBYA-UNREST-USLarry Bell interviews Joan Neuhaus Schaan:

Joan Neuhaus Schaan is a Fellow in Homeland Security and Terrorism at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy in Houston.  Her first involvement in the field of terrorism and homeland security came as an officer with the United States Naval Reserve in the mid-1990’s, where she served as an anti-terrorism training officer for her squadron and was responsible for the force protection briefings for deployments to the Americas and Pacific. She was appointed to the Texas Commission on Private Security by Governor George W. Bush in 1999, and was later reappointed by Governor Rick Perry.

Larry Bell: Joan, in our discussions you have pointed out that our Benghazi consulate which was attacked on 9/11 was being “guarded” by a militia with Muslim Brotherhood ties, and that the Al Qaeda-associated assailants may have used weapons provided to Libyan rebel militias with support from the U.S.  Please provide some background.

Joan Neuhaus Schaan: Yes, this is my concern.  To begin, the U.S. supported rebels in the overthrow of  Mu’ammar al-Gadhafi, even though our government was aware that a significant portion of the Libyan rebels were comprised of Muslim Brotherhood and/or al-Qaeda affiliates who subsequently formed a coalition in Libya’s  new transitional government. That support was provided on the basis of a secret presidential order that bypassed congressional approval under the War Powers Act

The Muslim Brotherhood had been outlawed in Egypt prior to the fall of Hosni Mubarak, and in its 80 year history it has been responsible for the founding of many foreign terrorist organizations throughout the Middle East and Africa named on the U.S. State Department list. Much of the Al-Qaeda senior leadership came from these same terror organizations.

The press has reported that U.S. support to the Libyan rebels was provided with the assistance of Qatar and Saudi Arabia, and some portion was funneled through the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood.  I have not seen a report on the exact form U.S. support for the rebels took, but clearly at some point the support would have been translated into funding, intelligence, weapons and/or manpower from the U.S. and/or its partners.

For example, the European press reported that Qatar provided experts to help train fighters at a camp operated by a known member of Al Qaeda and the LIFG, Ismail Sallabi.  A blogger reported that Ismail Sallabi was the founder of the Feb. 17th Brigade, and held meetings with NATO officials in Qatar.  This would be the same Feb. 17th Brigade that provided the U.S. Benghazi consulate security.   Press reports immediately after the September 11th attack indicated that LIFG was in contact with the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood just prior to the consulate attack.

The military leader chosen by the post-Gadhafi transitional government was Emir of the Libyan al-Qaeda affiliate Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) which was founded upon Muslim Brotherhood ideology.

The Muslim Brotherhood had intimate ties with the February 17th Brigade which was assigned to provide security for our Benghazi consulate. In fact, the Libyan Muslim Brotherhood prime minister candidate, upon winning the election, had planned to have the February 17th Brigade commander become Minister of Defense.

And you believe that rebel organizations that benefitted from U.S. support may have had direct roles in the deadly attack?

Yes, there is a distinct possibility that the weapons, training and/or intelligence used in the assault that killed four Americans, including Ambassador Stevens, were obtained as a result of aid we provided to the Libyan rebels or relationships we had developed with the rebels. The U.S. played an integral role in assisting militant Islamists with taking control of a country rich in resources and in close proximity to Europe. Ultimately, these resources can be used to finance the extremist Islamist agenda. A similar scenario appears to  now be playing out in Syria.

Joan, you also believe that the White House and CIA knew much about our dangerous partners before the attack?

That is clearly the case. As reported in the European press and in Wikileaks cables, Benghazi, and particularly near-by Derna, were well known strongholds for al-Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood, and former U.S. Ambassador to Libya Gene Cretz knew of the rebels’ Islamist tendencies from the onset.  So when President Obama signed the secret order for the CIA to help the Libyan rebels,  senior members of his administration must have known that their leader, Abdel Hakim Belhadj, had a long-time al-Qaeda affiliation, and also that many of the rebel military commanders were LIFG members. According to a New York Times interview, Belhadj had led fighting against U.S. troops in Iraq.

Incidentally, President Obama also signed a secret order to support rebels of a similar background in Syria. Libyans comprise one of the largest contingents of foreign fighters in Syria, and David Sanger has reported that most of the weapons are falling into the hands of the Islamists

And Ambassador Stevens was aware of all of this?

Chances are slim that he wasn’t aware of the circumstances. According to his resume published on the internet, Ambassador Stevens had been active in Libya since at least 2007, serving as Benghazi Deputy Chief of Mission, Interim Ambassador to Libya, Special Representative to the Libyan Transitional Government, and finally as Ambassador.  The ambassador had monitored the status of Abu Sufian bin Qumu, the leader of the group that later killed him, upon his transfer from Guantanamo Bay to Libya, and Stevens  is believed to have personally  visited with Qumu  when he was being held in a Libyan prison. Abu Sufian, a member of LIFG, had joined al-Qaeda in Afghanistan where he was captured. Under pressure to release detainees, the Bush administration returned him to Libya to be imprisoned by Gadhafi, who also considered Al Qaeda a serious threat.

All of this obviously challenges any notion that the White House ever believed its own long-repeated talking points attributing the attack on our consulate to an anti-Muslim YouTube video protest in Cairo that spread to Benghazi.

As the Cairo protest was building on Sept. 10th, it was clear that the  crowd was protesting the  U.S. imprisonment of the Blind Sheikh Omar Abdul Rahman who was behind the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and provided the fatwa for the 9/11 attack in 2001…not about any video. President Mohamed Morsi, who replaced former Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak, had called for release of the Blind Sheikh in his inaugural address.

The brother of the Blind Sheikh, along with the brother of al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, participated in the protests that began on September 10th which resulted in the burning of the U.S. flag and hoisting of a jihad flag over the U.S. embassy in the early hours of Sept. 11th.  News footage of the ensuing Cairo protests show banners honoring the Blind Sheikh in the background.

Read more at Forbes

 

Libyan Leaks: Secret Document reveals Al-Qaeda ‘brother’ put in control of U.S. Embassy in Tripoli

 

Abdel Hakim Belhaj

By Walid Shoebat and Ben Barrack:

A treasure trove of secret documents has been obtained by a Libyan source who says that secularists in his country are increasingly wanting to see Mitt Romney defeat Barack Obama on November 6th. This charge is being made despite Muslim Brotherhood losses in Libyan elections last July which resulted in victory for the secularists. One of those documents may help explain this sentiment.

It shows that in supporting the removal of Gadhafi, the Obama administration seemed to sign on to an arrangement that left forces loyal to Al-Qaeda in charge of security at the U.S. embassy in Tripoli from 2011 through at least the spring of 2012.

The National Transitional Council, which represented the political apparatus that opposed Gadhafi in 2011 and served as the interim government after his removal, made an extremely curious appointment in August of 2011. That appointment was none other than Abdel Hakim Belhaj, an Al-Qaeda ally and ‘brother’. Here is a copy of that letter (translation beneath it):

Translated, the document reads:

National Transitional Council – Libya 8/30/11

Code: YGM-270-2011

Mr. Abdel Hakim Al-Khowailidi Belhaj

Greetings,

We would like to inform you that you have been commissioned to the duties and responsibilities of the military committee of the city of Tripoli. These include taking all necessary procedures to secure the safety of the Capital and its citizens, its public and private property, and institutions, to include all international embassies. To coordinate with the local community of the city of Tripoli and the security assembly and defense on a national level.

Mustafa Muhammad Abdul Jalil

President, National Transitional Council – Libya

Official Seal of National Transitional Council

Copy for file.

As for Belhaj’s bonafides as an Al-Qaeda ally, consider the words of the notorious Ayman al-Zawahiri. In a report published one day prior to the date on the memo above, ABC News quoted the Al-Qaeda leader as saying the following – in 2007 – about the man the NTC put in control of Tripoli in 2011:

“Dear brothers… the amir of the mujahideen, the patient and steadfast Abu-Abdallah al-Sadiq (Belhaj); and the rest of the captives of the fighting Islamic group in Libya, here is good news for you,” Zawahiri said in a video, using Belhaj’s nom de guerre. “Your brothers are continuing your march after you… escalating their confrontation with the enemies of Islam: Gadhafi and his masters, the crusaders of Washington.”

The Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) was founded by Belhaj.

In a BBC report from one month earlier – on July 4, 2011 – a man named Al-Amin Belhaj was identified as an NTC spokesman and said the following:

“Everyone knows who Abdel Hakim Belhadj is. He is a Libyan rebel and a moderate person who commands wide respect.”

Abdel Hakim Belhaj had been identified in a video report embedded in the the BBC article as…

“…about the most powerful man in Tripoli.

Abdel Hakim Belhaj is many things but moderate is not one of them.

Interestingly, according to a report by the Jamestown Foundation in 2005, the man who attributed the ‘moderate’ label to Abdel Hakim Belhaj was actually a leader with the Libyan Muslim Brotherhood:

This last week Al-Amin Belhadj, head of the Libyan Muslim Brotherhood, issued a press release on the Arabic language section of Libya-Watch, (Mu’assasat al-Raqib li-Huqquq al-Insan) calling for urgent action on behalf of 86 Brotherhood members imprisoned since 1998 at Tripoli’s Abu Salim prison and on hunger strike since October 7.

The nexus between Al-Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood comes into clearer focus when one looks at the Libyan Ambassador to the United States. His name is Ali Sulaiman Aujali. He had the following to say about Belhaj according to an ABC News report:

“(Belhaj) should be accept(ed) for the person that he is today and we should deal with him on that basis… people evolve and change.”

Really? How many times do westerners have to fall for this line before they trip over it?

Read more at shoebat.com

Walid Shoebat is a former member of the Muslim Brotherhood and author of For God or For Tyranny

Ben Barrack is a talk show host and author of the book, Unsung Davids, which features a chapter on Walid Shoebat

Benghazi: The Set-Up and the Cover-Up

The U.S. mission in Beghazi: The day after (Photo: Reuters)

By Clare Lopez:

Data points continue to accumulate about the September 11, 2012 attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya. The picture that is beginning to emerge from connecting those dots is deeply concerning on multiple levels. Two related issues dominate this analysis: The systematic stripping of security protection from the Benghazi mission prior to the 9/11 anniversary attack and the cold-blooded refusal to send or even permit local help the night of the attack.

As Fox News Bureau Chief of Intelligence Catherine Herridge suggested on the “Mike Huckabee” show on Oct. 27, both of these critical subjects may have been driven by a perceived need to cover up the likely purpose for the existence of that mission in the first place, i.e., to serve as a U.S. command hub for the movement of weapons out of Libya to Syrian rebels fighting to bring down the Bashar Al-Assad regime.

It has now been established through the persistent work of Congressional leadership figures and such investigative journalists, media and talk show hosts as the Fox News network, the Glenn Beck show, Michael Coren at Canada’s Sun News, Aaron Klein at World Net Daily and Diana West that the Benghazi mission played a central role in a U.S. government policy of “engaging, legitimating, enriching and emboldening Islamists who have taken over or are ascendant in much of the Middle East,” as Center for Security Policy president, Frank Gaffney, put it.

According to media reporting, Benghazi was staffed by CIA operatives whose job may have been not just to secure and destroy dangerous weapons (like RPGs and SAMs) looted from former Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi’s stockpiles during and after the 2011 revolution, but also perhaps to facilitate their onward shipment to the Al-Qaeda- and Muslim Brotherhood-dominated Syrian opposition.

President Barack Obama signed an intelligence finding sometime in early 2012 that authorized U.S. support for the Syrian rebels and by mid-June 2012, CIA operatives reportedly were on the Turkish-Syrian border helping to steer weapons deliveries to selected Syrian rebel groups. According to an Oct. 14, 2012 New York Times article, most of those arms were going to “hard-line Islamic jihadists.”

Abdelhakim Belhadj

One of those jihadis may well be Abdelhakim Belhadj, former leader of the Al-Qa’eda-linked Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) and head of the Tripoli Military Council after Qaddafi’s ouster. During the 2011 revolt in Libya, Belhadj was almost certainly a key contact of the U.S. liaison to the Libyan opposition, Christopher Stevens.

In November 2011, Belhadj was reported to have met with Syrian Free Army (SFA) leaders in Istanbul, Turkey, as well as on the Turkish-Syrian border. Further, Belhadj’s contact with the SFA comes in the context of official policy adopted by the post-Qaddafi Libyan “government,” which sent a delegation to Turkey to offer arms and possibly fighters to the Turkish-backed Syrian rebels. “There is something being planned to send weapons and even Libyan fighters to Syria,” according to a Libyan source quoted in a November, 2011 Telegraph report.

The multilateral U.S.-Libya-Turkey agreement to get weapons into the hands of Syrian rebels – which were known to be dominated by Al-Qaeda and Muslim Brotherhood elements — by working with and through Al-Qaeda-linked jihadist figures like Belhadj, seemed confirmed by the appearance of a Libyan-flagged vessel, Al-Entisar, which docked at the Turkish port of Iskanderun on September 6, 2012.

Suspected of carrying weapons bound for the Syrian rebels, the ship’s cargo reportedly included Russian-designed, shoulder-launched missiles known as MANPADS, RPGs and surface-to-air missiles—all of them just the sort of weapons available in Libya.

Stevens’ last meeting in Benghazi the night he was killed was with the Turkish Consul General Ali Sait Akin, who is variously reported to have been there to discuss a weapons transfer or a warning about the possible compromise of the Libyan weapons pipeline to Syria. Whatever the topic of Ambassador Stevens’ discussion with Akin, he clearly and knowingly put himself in harm’s way to be there, in Benghazi, on the night of September 11.

The urgency that compelled Stevens to Benghazi that night seems especially difficult to understand given what was known to him as well as to senior levels of the Obama administration about the extremely dangerous situation in post-Qaddafi Libya.

It is all the more baffling then that, in view of the obvious priority that the U.S. government had placed on its Libya-to-Syria weapons pipeline operation, such a systematic effort in the weeks leading up to the September 11 attack was dedicated to stripping the Benghazi base of the security protection it so desperately needed in a deteriorating Libyan security environment and despite the repeated pleas of Ambassador Stevens and others in both Tripoli and Benghazi for more security.

From at least February, 2012 onward, the Regional Security Officer (RSO) at the U.S. Tripoli Embassy, Eric Nordstrom, had urged that U.S. security measures in Libya be expanded, citing dozens of security incidents by “Al-Qaeda-affiliated groups, including Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM)…”

In August 2012, Stevens reported that the security situation in Benghazi was deteriorating, yet in spite of this, the 16-man Site Security Team assigned to Libya, comprised of Special Forces led by SF LTC Andy Wood, was ordered out of Libya, contrary to the Ambassador’s stated desire that they stay.

Note that, at any time, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton could have ordered the deployment to Benghazi of additional security experts from the Department of Security (DoS) Bureau of Diplomatic Security (or Diplomatic Security Service—DSS), but apparently chose not to do so.

Instead, DoS hired a British firm, Blue Mountain, to manage its security in Benghazi, and Blue Mountain subcontracted the job to a local jihadist militia called the February 17 Martyrs Brigade who have known Muslim Brotherhood ties.

Furthermore, Nordstrom testified at the October 11, 2012 Congressional hearings that “in deference to sensitivity to Libyan practice, the guards at Benghazi were unarmed”– an inexplicable practice for a place as dangerous as Benghazi.

Read more at Radical Islam

Clare Lopez is a senior fellow at RadicalIslam.org and a strategic policy and intelligence expert with a focus on the Middle East, national defense and counterterrorism. Lopez served for 25 years as an operations officer with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

See also: Benghazi’s Tough Questions (sultanknish.blogspot.com)

The Real Reason Behind Benghazigate?

Center for Security Policy

By Frank Gaffney, Jr.

President Obama’s once-seemingly-unstoppable march towards reelection hit what he might call “bumps in the road” in Benghazi, Libya late on September 11, 2012.  It might be more accurate to describe the effect of the well-planned and -executed, military-style attack on a diplomatic facility there as the political equivalent of a devastating improvised explosive device on the myth of the unassailability of the Obama record as Commander-in-Chief.

Thanks to intrepid investigative reporting – notably by Bret Baier and Catherine Herridge at Fox News, Aaron Klein at WND.com and Claire Lopez at RadicalIslam.org – and information developed by congressional investigators, the mystery is beginning to unravel with regard to what happened that night and the reason for the subsequent, clumsy official cover-up now known as “Benghazigate.”

The evidence suggests that the Obama administration has not simply been engaging, legitimating, enriching and emboldening Islamists who have now taken over or are ascendant in much of the Middle East. Starting in March 2011, when American diplomat Christopher Stevens was designated the liaison to the “opposition” in Libya, the Obama administration has been arming them, including jihadists like Abdelhakim Belhadj, the leader of the al Qaeda franchise known as the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group.

Once Qaddafi was overthrown, Chris Stevens was appointed as the ambassador to the new Libya run by Belhadj and his friends.  Not surprisingly, one of the most important priorities for someone in that position would be to try to find and secure the immense amounts of armaments that had been cached by the dictator around the country and systematically looted during and after the revolution.

One of the places in Libya most awash with such weapons in the most dangerous of hands is Benghazi.  It now appears that Amb. Stevens was there – on a particularly risky day, with no security to speak of and despite now-copiously-documented concerns about his own safety and that of his subordinates – for another priority mission: sending arms recovered from the former regime’s stocks to the “opposition” in Syria.  As in Libya, the insurgents are known to include al Qaeda and other shariah-supremacist groups, including none other than Abdelhakim Belhadj.

Fox News has chronicled (http://video.foxnews.com/v/1913235018001/) how the Al Entisar, a Libyan-flagged vessel carrying 400 tons of cargo, docked on September 6th in the Turkish port of Iskenderun.  It reportedly supplied both humanitarian assistance and arms – including deadly SA-7 man-portable surface-to-air missiles – apparently destined for Islamists, again including al Qaeda elements, in Syria.

What cries out for further investigation – and debate in the remaining days of this presidential election – is whether this shipment was part of a larger covert Obama effort to transfer weapons to our enemies that could make the Iran-Contra scandal, to say nothing of Operation Fast and Furious, pale by comparison?

Investigative journalist Aaron Klein has reported (http://www.wnd.com/2012/10/this-is-what-benghazi-consulate-really-was/) that the “consulate in Benghazi” actually was no such thing.  He observes that, while administration officials have done nothing to correct that oft-repeated characterization of the facility where the murderous attack on Amb. Stevens and his colleagues was launched, instead they call it a “mission.”  And what Klein describes as a “shabby, nondescript building” which lacked any “major public security presence” was, according to an unnamed Middle Eastern security official, “routinely used by Stevens and others to coordinate with the Turkish, Saudi and Qatari governments on supporting the insurgencies in the Middle East, most prominently the rebels opposing Assad’s regime in Syria.”

We know that Stevens’ last official act was to hold such a meeting with an unidentified “Turkish diplomat.”  Presumably, the conversation involved additional arms shipments to al Qaeda and its allies in Syria.  But it may also have involved getting more jihadi fighters there.  After all, Klein reported last month (http://www.wnd.com/2012/09/sources-slain-u-s-ambassador-recruited-jihadists/) that, according to sources in Egyptian security, our ambassador was playing a “central role in recruiting jihadists to fight Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria.”

It gets worse.  Last week, Center for Security Policy Senior Fellow and former career CIA officer Clare Lopez observed (http://www.radicalislam.org/analysis/arms-flow-syria-may-be-behind-beghazi-cover) that there were two large warehouse-type buildings associated with the so-called “consulate” whose purpose has yet to be disclosed.  As their contents were raided in the course of the attack, we may never know for sure whether they housed – and were known by the local jihadis to house – arms, perhaps administered by the two former SEALS killed along with Amb. Stevens.

What we do know is that the New York Times – one of the most slavishly pro-Obama publications in the country – reported on October 14, 2012 article that, “Most of the arms shipped at the behest of Saudi Arabia and Qatar to supply Syrian rebel groups fighting the government of Bashar al-Assad are going to hard-line Islamic jihadists, and not the more secular opposition groups that the West wants to bolster.”

In short, it seems President Obama has been engaged in gun-walking on a massive scale.  The effect has been to equip America’s enemies to wage jihad not only against regimes it once claimed were our friends, but inevitably against us and our allies, as well.  That would explain his administration’s desperate, and now-failing, bid to mislead the voters through the serial deflections of Benghazigate.

Glenn Beck: Was Ambassador Stevens involved in gun-running to Al Qaeda?

Clare Lopez article: Arms Flow to Syria May Be Behind Benghazi Cover-Up

Daniel Greenfield has a dissenting view: Did the Syrian Weapons Pipeline Lead to Ambassador Stevens’ Death?

Arms Flow to Syria May Be Behind Benghazi Cover-Up

by: Clare Lopez

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Clare Lopez is a senior fellow at RadicalIslam.org and a strategic policy and intelligence expert with a focus on the Middle East, national defense and counterterrorism. Lopez began her career as an operations officer with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).