When it comes to the Benghazi attacks, there is clearly an effort underway to avoid implicating Ansar Al-Sharia Egypt, Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, or ousted Egyptian president and Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohammed Mursi in those attacks. As of yet, we can’t fully answer the question as to why but we can actually refute those who refuse to entertain such notions – with what such individuals are already willing to concede.
In the now infamous July 10th House Joint Subcommittee hearing, expert Daveed Gartenstein-Ross said he knew “of absolutely no information suggesting” Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood was involved in the Benghazi attack on 9/11/12. He also dismissed the idea of Egypt’s Ansar Al-Sharia branch being involved and instead pointed to the “Jamal network”, headed by Muhammad Jamal Abdo Al-Kashif.
The implication was clear. Those demanding answers were to believe that while the Benghazi attacks included Egyptians, any of those attackers must have been part of a rag-tag group of terrorist freelancers and that no evidence suggested they were tied to Ansar Al-Sharia Egypt or sanctioned by a larger group.
As for Al-Kashif’s ties to Mursi, Arabic sources reveal that among the charges filed against the ousted president of Egypt, at least one involves the latter’s release of Al-Kashif. Other sources reveal that Mursi also pardoned Al-Kashif’s leader, Tariq Taha Abu Al-Azm.
Consider that this news about Mursi releasing Al-Kashif comes on the heels of other evidence implicating the former president and Muslim Brotherhood leader. The Libyan Intelligence document, dated September 15, 2012, speaks of six Egyptians who were arrested for their roles in the Benghazi attacks; they mentioned Mursi’s involvement. In a cell phone video, shot from the scene during the attack, one gunman can be heard telling others not to shoot and that “we were sent by Dr. Mursi”. On July 21st of this year, Libya’s Intelligence Chief flew to Cairo, reportedly with documents that implicated Mursi in the Benghazi attacks; it was backed up by multiple Arabic sources.
As for Egypt’s Ansar Al-Sharia branch being involved in the attacks, consider the testimony of Thomas Joscelyn, Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD). Joscelyn was scheduled to testify at a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on July 18th; that hearing was canceled for reasons we cannot fully determine.
However, Joscelyn’s written testimony was posted online and is at variance with the oral testimony of Gartenstein-Ross in one critical aspect. Coupled with his previous articles, Joscelyn’s written testimony essentially made the case that Al-Kashif is a central figure within Egypt’s Ansar Al-Sharia branch by making the following assertions:
- Al-Kashif signed a document expressing solidarity with Ansar Al-Sharia founder Ahmed ‘Ashoush and Mohammed Al-Zawahiri.
- It’s believed that Al-Zawahiri put Al-Kashif in touch with his older brother, Ayman Al-Zawahiri.
- Al-Kashif was a top commander in Egyptian Islamic Jihad (EIJ).
- Ansar Al-Sharia Egypt is led by EIJ leaders who’ve remained loyal to Ayman Al-Zawahiri.
- Al-Kashif communicated with Ayman Al-Zawahiri throughout 2011 – 2012.
The connection between Al-Kashif and Egypt’s Ansar Al-Sharia is one Gartenstein-Ross seemed to dismiss in his oral testimony on July 10th.
Though not yet provably reciprocal, Egypt’s Ansar Al-Sharia branch is unabashedly loyal to Mohammed Mursi, according to Arabic sources; the group is reportedly comprised of Mursi loyalists who threatened to assassinate for Mursi’s sake.