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.