Arms dealer says administration made him scapegoat on Libya operation to ‘protect’ Clinton


Fox News, by Catherine Herridge, Pamela K. Browne, October 12, 2016:

EXCLUSIVE: American arms dealer Marc Turi, in his first television interview since criminal charges against him were dropped, told Fox News that the Obama administration — with the cooperation of Hillary Clinton’s State Department — tried and failed to make him the scapegoat for a 2011 covert weapons program to arm Libyan rebels that spun out of control.

“I would say, 100 percent, I was victimized…to somehow discredit me, to throw me under the bus, to do whatever it took to protect their next presidential candidate,” he told Fox News chief intelligence correspondent Catherine Herridge.

The 48-year-old Arizona resident has been at the epicenter of a failed federal investigation led by the Justice Department spanning five years and costing the government an estimated $10 million or more, Turi says.

Turi says the Justice Department abruptly dropped the case to avoid public disclosure of the weapons program, that was designed to force the ouster of Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi during the 2011 Arab Spring.

“Those transcripts from current as well as former CIA officers were classified,” Turi said of the evidence. “If any of these relationships [had] been revealed it would have opened up a can of worms. There wouldn’t have been any good answer for the U.S. government especially in this election year.” The Justice Department faced a deadline last week to produce records to the defense.

Turi says he was specifically “targeted by the Obama administration “and “lost everything–my family, my friends, my business, my reputation.”

As Fox News has reported extensively, in 2011, the Obama administration with support from some Republican and Democratic lawmakers explored options to arm the so-called “Libyan rebels” during the chaotic Arab Spring but United Nations sanctions prohibited direct sales.

Turi’s plan was to have the U.S. government supply conventional weapons to the Gulf nations Qatar and UAE, which would then in turn supply them to Libya. But Turi says he never sold any weapons, and he was cut out of the plan.  Working with CIA, Turi said Clinton’s State Department had the lead and used its own people, with weapons flowing to Libya and Syria.

“Some (weapons) may have went out under control that we had with our personnel over there and the others went to these militia. That’s how they lost control over it,” Turi said. “I can assure you that these operations did take place and those weapons did go in different directions.”

Asked by Fox News who got the weapons — Al Qaeda, Ansar al-Sharia, or ISIS — Turi said: “All of them, all of them, all of them.”

Turi exchanged emails in 2011 with then U.S. envoy to the Libyan opposition Chris Stevens. A day after the exchange about Turi’s State Department application to sell weapons, Clinton wrote on April 8, 2011 to aide Jake Sullivan, “fyi. the idea of using private security experts to arm the opposition should be considered.”

Asked if the email exchanges are connected or a coincidence, Turi said, “When you look at this timeline, none of it was a coincidence. It was all strategically managed and it had to come from her own internal circle.”

Turi also told Fox News that he believes emails sent about the weapons programs were deleted by Hillary Clinton and her team because that “it would have gone to an organization within the Bureau of Political Military affairs within the State Department known as PM/RSAT (Office of Regional Security and Arms Transfers.)  That’s where you would find Jake Sullivan, Andrew Shapiro and a number of political operatives that would have been intimately involved with this foreign policy.”

The four felony counts — which included two of arms dealing in violation of the Arms Export Control Act and two of lying on his State Department weapons application — were dismissed last week against Turi “with prejudice,” meaning the government cannot come after him again on this matter.

The Justice Department decision, weeks before the election, coupled with the now public emails, cast a new light on Clinton’s 2013 Benghazi testimony where she was asked about the movement of weapons by Sen. Rand Paul.

Paul: Were any of these weapons transferred to other countries. Any countries. Turkey included?

Clinton: Well, senator you’ll have to direct that question to the agency that ran the annex and I will see what information is available.

Paul: You’re saying you don’t know?

Clinton: I don’t know.

Turi first told his story to Fox News senior executive producer Pamela Browne in 2014, and since, Turi says he’s lost everything to fight the Justice Department, which had no further comment beyond the publicly available court records.

“With all the resources that they were throwing at me, I knew there would have to be some type of explanation of the operation that was going terribly wrong in Libya,” Turi said. “It is completely un-American…I was a contractor for the Central Intelligence Agency.”

Turi said he is grateful the case is over. “It really is ungodly, and unjust and unconscionable, that the entire force of the United States government came after me for a simple application. I was working for the U.S. government.”

Turi added, “I never shipped anything. I never even received the contract. So all I received was an approval for $534 million to support our interests overseas. And it would have been the United States government that facilitated that operation from Qatar and UAE by way of allowing those countries to land their planes and land their ships in Libya.”

Close friend and Turi adviser Robert Stryk described Turi this way to Fox News in a statement:

“Marc Turi is a true patriot who served his country in the fight against Islamofascist terrorists in the Middle East. His fraudulent prosecution by Hillary Clinton’s associates in the Justice Department is deplorable as is the fate of the American heroes murdered in Benghazi. Our most loyal citizens deserve better.”

And Turi hinted there is more to emerge on the 2012 Benghazi attacks which killed four Americans including Stevens.

“Now there’s a flip side to this. Some of the operations that I was involved in, in another country for the agency has a linkage and there’s a backstory to the actual buy-back program of the surface to air missiles that were shipped and mysteriously disappeared out of Benghazi,” Turi said. “So we can save that for another time, but the reality is a lot of this could have exposed a number of covert operations that I don’t think the American public would really want to know at this point in time.”

Fox News asked the State Department about Turi’s allegations, and whether no weapons reached extremists groups on Clinton’s watch.  A spokesperson said they would check.

See Hillary’s Libyan jihadi atrocities

A rebel fighter shouts "Allahu Akbar!" (God is the greatest!) in front of a burning vehicle belonging to forces loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi after an air strike by coalition forces, along a road between Benghazi and Ajdabiyah March 20, 2011. REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic (LIBYA - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST)

A rebel fighter shouts “Allahu Akbar!” (God is the greatest!) in front of a burning vehicle belonging to forces loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi after an air strike by coalition forces, along a road between Benghazi and Ajdabiyah March 20, 2011. REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic (LIBYA – Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST)

WND, by Jerome R. Corsi, October5, 2016:

NEW YORK – The extreme brutality unleashed by the mercenaries and Islamic fighters who joined Libyan-based jihadists to oust leader Moammar Gadhafi with the backing of Hillary Clinton’s State Department and NATO is demonstrated in three videos released to WND.

The videos, obtained through a trusted source, were vetted by Libyan tribal parliamentary leaders who spoke to WND. The Libyans verified the videos were taken in Libya in the weeks after the U.S.-backed NATO bombing that began in 2011.

As WND has reported, Clinton’s State Department had decided to rebuff offers Gadhafi had made to abdicate peacefully and avoid a war. And, meanwhile, Politico reported Tuesday the Obama administration is moving to drop charges against an arms dealer who had threatened to expose Hillary Clinton’s determination to arm anti-Gadhafi rebels.

The Libyan tribal parliamentary leaders, in an exclusive Skype interview published by WND on Sept. 21, characterized Clinton as the “Butcher of Libya.” They contended her State Department was “behind the terrorist groups controlling Libya, Ansar al-Sharia, behind the militia in Misurata who destroyed a great part of Libya and displaced 2 million people from their lands because they were accused of being loyal to Gadhafi.”

Readers are cautioned that the three videos published here are shockingly graphic.

The first video shows a group of unidentified foreign mercenaries and terrorists interrogating a half-naked soldier from Gadhafi’s army, who is lying prone on his stomach, with his arms and legs spread, while his interrogators simulate sodomy with a weapon and a boot.

Read more

Obama DOJ drops charges against alleged provider of Libyan weapons

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton walks with President Barack Obama on Sept. 12, 2012, where he spoke about the death of U.S. ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens. | AP Photo

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton walks with President Barack Obama on Sept. 12, 2012, where he spoke about the death of U.S. ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens. | AP Photo

Arms dealer had threatened to expose Hillary Clinton’s talks about arming anti-Qadhafi rebels.

Politico, by  Kenneth P. Vogel and Josh Gerstein, October 4, 2016:

The Obama administration is moving to dismiss charges against an arms dealer it had accused of selling weapons that were destined for Libyan rebels.

Lawyers for the Justice Department on Monday filed a motion in federal court in Phoenix to drop the case against the arms dealer, an American named Marc Turi, whose lawyers also signed the motion.

The deal averts a trial that threatened to cast additional scrutiny on Hillary Clinton’s private emails as Secretary of State, and to expose reported Central Intelligence Agency attempts to arm rebels fighting Libyan leader Moammar Qadhafi.

Government lawyers were facing a Wednesday deadline to produce documents to Turi’s legal team, and the trial was officially set to begin on Election Day, although it likely would have been delayed by protracted disputes about classified information in the case.

A Turi associate asserted that the government dropped the case because the proceedings could have embarrassed Clinton and President Barack Obama by calling attention to the reported role of their administration in supplying weapons that fell into the hands of Islamic extremist militants.

“They don’t want this stuff to come out because it will look really bad for Obama and Clinton just before the election,” said the associate.

In the dismissal motion, prosecutors say “discovery rulings” from U.S. District Court Judge David Campbell contributed to the decision to drop the case. The joint motion asks the judge to accept a confidential agreement to resolve the case through a civil settlement between the State Department and the arms broker.

“Our position from the outset has been that this case never should have been brought and we’re glad it’s over,” said Jean-Jacques Cabou, a Perkins Coie partner serving as court-appointed defense counsel in the case. “Mr Turi didn’t break the law….We’re very glad the charges are being dismissed.”

Under the deal, Turi admits no guilt in the transactions he participated in, but he agreed to refrain from U.S.-regulated arms dealing for four years. A $200,000 civil penalty will be waived if Turi abides by the agreement.

A State Department official confirmed the outlines of the agreement.

“Mr. Turi cooperated with the Department’s Directorate of Defense Trade Controls in its review and proposed administrative settlement of the alleged violations,” said the official, who asked not be named. “Based on a compliance review, DDTC alleged that Mr. Turi…engaged in brokering activities for the proposed transfer of defense articles to Libya, a proscribed destination under [arms trade regulations,] despite the Department’s denial of…requests for the required prior approval of such activities.”

Turi adviser Robert Stryk of the government relations and consulting firm SPG accused the government of trying to scapegoat Turi to cover up Clinton’s mishandling of Libya.

“The U.S. government spent millions of dollars, went all over the world to bankrupt him, and destroyed his life — all to protect Hillary Clinton’s crimes,” he said, alluding to the deadly Sept. 11, 2012 terrorist attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

Republicans hold Clinton responsible for mishandling the circumstances around that attack. And Stryk said that Turi was now weighing book and movie deals to tell his story, and to weigh in on the Benghazi attack.

Representatives of the Justice Department, the White House and Clinton’s presidential campaign either declined to comment or did not respond to requests for comment on the case or the settlement.

Turi was indicted in 2014 on four felony counts: two of arms dealing in violation of the Arms Export Control Act and two of lying to the State Department in official applications. The charges accused Turi of claiming that the weapons involved were destined for Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, when the arms were actually intended to reach Libya.

Turi’s lawyers argued that the shipments were part of a U.S. government-authorized effort to arm Libyan rebels.

It’s unclear if any of the weapons made it to Libya, and there’s no evidence linking weapons provided by the U.S. government to the Benghazi attacks.

“The proposal did not result in an actual transfer of defense articles to Libya,” the State Department official told POLITICO on Tuesday.

But questions about U.S. efforts to arm Libyan rebels have been mounting, since weapons have reportedly made their way from Libya to Syria, where a civil war is raging between the Syrian Government and ISIL-aligned fighters.

During 2013 Senate hearings on the 2012 Benghazi attack, Clinton, under questioning from Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky), said she had no knowledge of weapons moving from Libya into Turkey.

Wikileaks head Julian Assange in July suggested that he had emails proving that Clinton “pushed” the “flows” of weapons “going over to Syria.”

Additionally, Turi’s case had delved into emails sent to and from the controversial private account that Clinton used as Secretary of State, which the defense planned to harness at any trial.

At a court hearing in 2015, Cabou said emails between Clinton and her top aides indicated that efforts to arm the rebels were — at a minimum — under discussion at the highest levels of the government.

“We’re entitled to tell the jury, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, the Secretary of State and her highest staff members were actively contemplating providing exactly the type of military assistance that Mr. Turi is here to answer for,” the defense attorney said, according to a transcript.

Turi’s defense was pressing for more documents about the alleged rebel-arming effort and for testimony from officials who worked on the issue the State Department and the CIA. The defense said it planned to argue that Turi believed he had official permission to work on arms transfers to Libya

“If we armed the rebels, as publicly reported in many, many sources and as we strongly believe happened and as we believe at least one witness told the grand jury, then documents about that process relate to that effort,” Cabou told Campbell at the same hearing last year.

Libya’s Terrorist Descent: Causes and Solutions

Fighters from al Qaeda-backed Ansar al Sharia Libya operate a training camp in Benghazi.

Fighters from al Qaeda-backed Ansar al Sharia Libya operate a training camp in Benghazi.

Long War Journal, by Thomas Joscelyn, Sept. 27, 2016:

Editor’s note: Below is Thomas Joscelyn’s testimony to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade on jihadist groups operating inside Libya, including the Islamic State and al Qaeda. If you wish to view the testimony with footnotes included,download the PDF by clicking here.

Chairman Poe, Ranking Member Keating and members of the subcommittee, thank you for inviting me here today to discuss the turmoil in Libya. Obviously, the multi-sided conflict in Libya is complex, with various forces pulling the country in multiple directions. My testimony today focuses on the jihadist groups operating inside Libya, especially the Islamic State’s arm and groups belonging to al Qaeda’s network. I am going to emphasize five key points:

1. The Islamic State is on the verge of losing its safe haven in Sirte, Libya. The loss of Sirte would be a major blow to the so-called caliphate, as Abu Bakr al Baghdadi’s organization has invested significant resources in this state-building project. From the Islamic State’s perspective, Sirte was one of the most important cities under its control. This was true even though most of the city’s citizens had fled the jihadists’ occupation. By controlling Sirte, the Islamic State was able to portray its “caliphate” as having significant territory outside of Iraq and Syria. If Baghdadi’s loyalists are cleared from Sirte in the coming weeks, then the U.S. and its allies should trumpet the group’s loss. During its rise to power, the Islamic State’s motto was “remaining and expanding.” This was a key part of the organization’s marketing message. But in Libya, as in Iraq and Syria, it is no longer true.

2. Despite losing its grip on Sirte and the surrounding towns and villages, however, the Islamic State will retain a presence inside Libya. The group has cadres in Benghazi and elsewhere. The Islamic State’s leaders likely evacuated some of their men from Sirte as the offensive on the city progressed. It is important to note that even though the Islamic State is on the verge of a significant defeat, the effort required a robust commitment by local Libyan ground forces, as well as more than 170 “precision” American airstrikes to date. As the Islamic State’s men have been cleared block by block from Sirte, they have demonstrated that they continue to maintain a strong operational capacity, launching suicide bombings in neighborhoods they’ve lost and killing dozens of their Libyan enemies. The U.S. and its partners will have to make sure that they hold Sirte once it is cleared, as well as prevent the Islamic State from seizing significant terrain elsewhere. 

3. The Islamic State’s loss of Sirte will be viewed in jihadist circles as a vindication of al Qaeda’s strategy. Al Qaeda’s senior leaders, including Osama bin Laden and Ayman al Zawahiri, repeatedly warned that the premature declaration of an Islamic state harms the jihadists’ cause. Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb’s (AQIM) emir, Abdulmalek Droukdel, has made the same argument. Al Qaeda has consistently argued that a jihadist state cannot survive if the U.S. and its allies decide to intervene. This is exactly what happened in Sirte.

4. Some assume that, unlike the Islamic State, al Qaeda does not seek to control territory and build Islamic emirates (states). But this is an erroneous assumption. A wealth of evidence shows that this is, in fact, al Qaeda’s primary goal. However, al Qaeda and the Islamic State have very different strategies for achieving this same end. AQIM and its allies briefly controlled much of Mali beginning in 2012. Documents recovered in Mali show that AQIM was laying the groundwork for an Islamic state. But Droukdel and his advisors concluded that their effort needed to be firmly rooted in the host society, so AQIM was willing to partner with tribes and organizations that did not share its ideology. AQIM is following a version of this same strategy inside Libya today and has been working to embed itself in various local groups and communities. The Islamic State’s model for state-building is top-down authoritarian. In the view of Baghdadi and his key advisors, all Muslims must submit to the so-called caliphate’s authority. Al Qaeda’s follows a bottom-up plan, which means that the organization is seeking to spread the jihadist ideology, win popular support and embed itself within local societies. Al Qaeda and AQIM, which is openly loyal to Ayman al Zawahiri, are not close to achieving their goals in many areas. But the al Qaeda network remains deeper than many assume.

5. In addition to the assistance the U.S. military provides local forces, the U.S. government should work to expose al Qaeda’s network inside Libya. Sun light is a key part of any plan to combat al Qaeda’s clandestine strategy. Al Qaeda’s senior leadership has dispatched operatives to Libya in the past. AQIM doesn’t typically advertise its presence in Libya, but has clearly backed groups such as Ansar al Sharia in Libya and the Mujahideen Shura Council in Derna. Indeed, al Qaeda has worked under multiple brand names in Libya.

Read more

Aiding and Abedin

Credit: Dave Clegg

Credit: Dave Clegg

Weekly Standard, THE MAGAZINE: From the September 5 Issue by Stephen F. Hayes:

As Bill Clinton entered the final year of his presidency, his aides put together a legacy-building trip to South Asia—the first visit to the region by a U.S. president since Jimmy Carter’s in 1978. Early drafts of the itinerary featured a notable exclusion: The president would visit India, an emerging ally, but had no plans to stop in neighboring Pakistan.

There were good reasons for this. Pervez Musharraf had seized power there in a military coup six months earlier. His regime was regarded as tolerant of Islamic radicals, perhaps even complicit in their attacks, and unhelpful on nuclear talks with India. Whatever the potential benefits to regional stability, a visit would be seen as legitimizing a troublemaker. Clinton had the support of many in the foreign policy establishment and his decision was popular among liberals in his party. In an editorial published February 18, 2000, the New York Times noted, “Pakistan has been lobbying hard in Washington”; the paper urged Clinton to stand firm, absent a return to civilian rule in the country and “concrete progress” on nukes and terror.

Four days later, Hillary Clinton weighed in. At a gathering in a private home on Staten Island, Clinton said she hoped her husband would be able to find time to visit Pakistan on his trip. That she spoke up on a matter of public controversy was interesting; where she did it was noteworthy.

Clinton was the guest of honor at a $1,000-per-plate fundraiser hosted by a group of prominent Pakistani doctors in New York, who acknowledged holding the dinner as part of that lobbying effort. The immediate beneficiary? Hillary Clinton, candidate for U.S. Senate. Organizers were told they’d need to raise at least $50,000 for her to show up. They did. The secondary beneficiary? Pakistan. Two weeks after Clinton told her hosts that she hoped her husband would do what they wanted him to do, the White House announced that Bill Clinton would, indeed, include Pakistan on his trip to South Asia.

Win, win, and win.

The White House naturally insisted that Hillary Clinton’s views had no bearing on her husband’s decision to change his itinerary. And a subsequent New York Times article about the curious sequence of events found “no evidence” she had prevailed upon the president to alter his plans. But that same article, published under the headline “Donating to the First Lady, Hoping the President Notices,” noted the “unique aspect” of Hillary Clinton’s candidacy: “While her husband still occupies the White House, people may seek to influence his policies by making donations to her Senate campaign.”

In fact, people did. The hosts of the event moved it up so that it might take place before a final decision had been made on the South Asian schedule. Suhail Muzaffar, one of two primary organizers of the fundraiser, told the paper: “‘We thought it went very well, in terms of the message and the timeliness of it, especially in terms of the president’s going to the region.” His co­host, Dr. Asim Malik, added: “I cannot deny that the fact that she’s the president’s wife makes a difference.”

A similar dynamic is at play in the growing controversy over Hillary Clinton and the Clinton Foundation: People sought to influence her decisions as secretary of state by making donations to his foundation. And while we cannot yet offer definitive conclusions about the extent to which those efforts were successful, disclosures over the past several weeks make clear that Clinton and her top aides eagerly provided special access to Clinton Foundation donors—and, in some cases, provided that special access because they were Clinton Foundation donors.

Such conflicts of interest—perceived and real—should come as no surprise. They were the focus of Clinton’s cabinet nomination. “The main issue related to Senator Clinton’s nomination that has occupied the committee has been the review of how her service as secretary of state can be reconciled with the sweeping global activities of President Bill Clinton and the Clinton Foundation,” said Senator Richard Lugar, the ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, moments after her nomination hearing was gaveled to order on January 13, 2009. “The core of the problem is that foreign governments and entities may perceive the Clinton Foundation as a means to gain favor with the secretary of state, although neither Senator Clinton nor President Clinton has a personal financial stake in the foundation.” The keys, Lugar said, will be transparency and preventing overlap between the work of the State Department and the Clinton Foundation. Large chunks of the hearing were devoted to an extended discussion about whether a Memorandum of Understanding drafted to make clear the lines between State and the foundation went far enough. Republicans wanted more assurances and a more detailed statement of the rules. Democrats, for the most part, were happy to leave things vague. Democrats won.

The recent revelations leave in tatters Clinton’s unequivocal claim from July: “There is absolutely no connection between anything that I did as secretary of state and the Clinton Foundation.”

There are, in fact, many connections.

In June 2009, Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa, the crown prince of Bahrain, sought a meeting with Secretary Clinton. He initially made requests through normal diplomatic channels but they went unfulfilled. Khalifa, a Clinton Foundation donor, got creative. Doug Band, a longtime aide to Bill Clinton who helped create the Clinton Foundation, emailed Huma Abedin, a top aide to Secretary Clinton. Band noted that Khalifa, “a good friend of ours,” would be visiting Washington and was seeking a meeting with Secretary Clinton. Abedin responded, noting that she was aware of Khalifa’s requests made “through normal channels.” She told Band that her boss didn’t want to commit to a meeting.

Two days later, the situation had changed. Abedin emailed Band to inform him that Khalifa was on the schedule and would be seeing Secretary Clinton in Washington. “If u see him, let him know,” she emailed. “We have reached out thru official channels.”

Another email, this one from Dennis Cheng, a fundraiser at the Clinton Foundation, to Abedin at the State Department, reveals that Clinton invited Ukrainian billionaire Victor Pinchuk, a high-dollar Clinton Foundation donor, to a reception at her home in 2012. When Clinton’s team was asked about her involvement with Pinchuk in 2014, her spokesman, Nick Merrill, told the New York Times that Clinton had never met Pinchuk and the Ukrainian “was never on her schedule” during her tenure at the State Department. (Cheng had been a colleague of Abedin at the State Department before moving to the Clinton Foundation.)

That same month, in June 2012, Hillary Clinton’s chief of staff, Cheryl Mills, traveled to New York City to interview two candidates to lead the Clinton Foundation. Mills, Clinton’s top aide, appears to have had significant involvement with those at the highest levels of the Clinton Foundation. Laura Graham, chief operating officer of the Clinton Foundation, left 148 telephone messages for Mills between 2010 and 2012, according to State Department records obtained by Citizens United via Freedom of Information Act requests and first reported by James Rosen of Fox News. The tally covers only half of Clinton’s tenure at the State Department and does not include calls in which Graham and Mills connected. Still, the 148 messages from Graham were exponentially more than any other individual left for Clinton’s top aide.

Many of these recent revelations have come despite efforts by Clinton defenders to keep them from the public. The FBI last week turned over to the State Department nearly 15,000 emails it recovered during its investigation of Clinton’s private server. Many of them—”thousands,” according to FBI director James Comey—were “work-related” emails that Clinton claimed she had turned over to the State Department. On August 8, 2015, Clinton signed a declaration submitted to the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., swearing “under penalty of perjury” that she’d directed all emails that “were or potentially were” work-related turned over to the State Department.

That plainly didn’t happen. Why not? Comey offered several explanations in his July 5 press conference announcing he wouldn’t be charging anyone in connection with the scandal. Perhaps they were lost in routine system purges of the kind that any email user might perform. Or maybe her lawyers mistook these thousands of “work-related” emails as “personal” because their search techniques weren’t as sophisticated as those used by the FBI.

While the FBI recovered thousands of work-related emails that Clinton failed to turn over, Comey reported that many others had been deleted. The FBI director acknowledged that while the FBI did not have “complete visibility” as to the contents of these emails or a thorough understanding of how they were permanently erased, he nonetheless offered his assurances that “there was no intentional misconduct” in the sorting of the emails.

If Comey’s explanations seemed generous when he made them, they seem even more charitable today. In his telling, Clinton’s failure to turn over thousands of work-related emails—at least some of which include evidence of coordination between the Clinton Foundation and the State Department that Clinton World was eager to keep secret—was merely the result of incompetence or bad luck. And the efforts her lawyers undertook to delete the others were unremarkable, benign. “We found no evidence that any of the additional work-related e-mails were intentionally deleted in an effort to conceal them,” Comey said at his press conference. Yet moments later, Comey acknowledged: “They deleted all e-mails they did not return to State, and the lawyers cleaned their devices in such a way as to preclude complete forensic recovery.”

There may be a simple reason the FBI didn’t find evidence of intent: They didn’t ask. That’s the explanation Representative Trey Gowdy offered in an interview with Fox News on August 24. “I didn’t see any questions on the issue of intent,” Gowdy said, referring to the FBI’s notes from its interview with Secretary Clinton.

And the evidence the FBI collected, particularly with respect to how some of Clinton’s “personal” emails were deleted, indicates that questions about intent ought to have been among the first ones asked. FBI interviews with the techs responsible for erasing Clinton’s emails suggest that her team went to great lengths to ensure the messages would never be seen again. The Clinton team used a technology called “BleachBit” to permanently delete those emails. BleachBit, according to its website, allows users to “shred files to hide their contents and prevent data recovery” and “overwrite free disk space to hide previously deleted files.” The techs used additional tools to ensure those emails would be unrecoverable.

So Clinton, who took virtually no precautions to safeguard her emails—”personal” or “work-related”—while they sat on her server, went to great lengths to ensure that the emails she withheld from the State Department could never again be seen by anyone. She did this nearly two years following her departure from the State Department and only after she understood that the government was interested in seeing her emails. Seems like a lot to do to protect yoga schedules and emails about the grandkids.

The challenge for Clinton is simple: survive until November 8. So she’s avoiding the media—265 days and counting since her last press conference—and trying to offer reassurances about the Clinton Foundation.

There’s little reason to believe her. This is the same woman, after all, who promised during her nomination hearing seven years ago that she would take extraordinary measures to separate the foundation from her work at the State Department and do her best to “avoid even the appearance of a conflict.”

Stephen F. Hayes is a senior writer at The Weekly Standard.




Also see:

Hillary Clinton’s Benghazi Debacle: Arming Jihadists in Libya . . . and Syria

hillary-clinton-benghazi-scandal-arm-syrian-rebels-isis_0National Review, By Andrew C. McCarthy — August 2, 2016

As U.S. armed forces attack ISIS in Libya, WikiLeaks is poised to remind us that ISIS is in Libya — indeed, that ISIS is ISIS — thanks to disastrous policies championed by Hillary Clinton as President Obama’s secretary of state. Also raised, yet again, is the specter of Mrs. Clinton’s lying to Congress and the American people — this time regarding a matter some of us have been trying for years to get answers about: What mission was so important the United States kept personnel in the jihadist hellhole of Benghazi in 2012?

Specifically, did that mission involve arming the Syrian “rebels” — including al-Qaeda and forces that became ISIS — just as, at Mrs. Clinton’s urging, our government had armed Libyan “rebels” (again, jihadists) to catastrophic effect?

It has been less than two weeks since WikiLeaks rocked the Clinton campaign on the eve of the Democratic convention by leaking hacked e-mails illuminating DNC efforts to rig the nomination chase in Clinton’s favor. Now the organization’s founder, Julian Assange, has announced that WikiLeaks is soon to publish highly sensitive government e-mails that demonstrate Hillary Clinton’s key participation in efforts to arm jihadists in Syria. Just as in Libya, where Mrs. Clinton championed the strategy of arming Islamist “rebels,” the Syrian “rebels” who ultimately received weapons included the Muslim Brotherhood, al-Qaeda, and ISIS.

The Daily Wire and other outlets are reporting on Assange’s comments, published by Democracy Now. Clearly, we should not take Assange’s word for what is to be gleaned from the hacked records, which he says include some 17,000 e-mails “about Libya alone.” Let’s see if he has what he says he has. But it is worth setting the stage, because what is known is outrageous and has not been given nearly enough attention — largely because Beltway Republicans were complicit in the Obama-Clinton policy of allying with Islamists, and thus have shown no interest in probing the inevitably disastrous fallout.

As I have been pointing out for years, for example, we have never gotten to the bottom of why the State Department, under Mrs. Clinton’s direction, had an installation in Benghazi, one of the world’s most dangerous places for Americans.

The Obama administration, like the Bush administration, had touted Qaddafi as a key counterterrorism ally against rabidly anti-American jihadists in eastern Libya. Nevertheless, Secretary Clinton led the policy shift in which our government changed sides in Libya — shifting support to the Muslim Brotherhood and its allies, just as Mrs. Clinton had urged shifting U.S. support to the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. In Libya, this included arming “rebels,” who naturally included a heavy concentration of jihadists.

EDITORIAL: What We Know about the Benghazi Attack Demands a Reckoning 

As I’ve recounted, to topple Qaddafi on behalf of the Islamists, the Obama administration — which did not seek congressional authorization for its offensive war (and preposterously maintained that bombing another country’s government was not really “war” anyway) — had to flout a United Nations resolution. The U.N. had agreed only to military operations for the purpose of protecting civilians, not offensive operations against the regime. Besides arming jihadists, the administration took no meaningful steps to make sure that Qaddafi’s military arsenals did not fall into terrorist hands. The regime was toppled and Qaddafi was brutally murdered — prompting Secretary Clinton’s bizarrely giddy quip, “We came, we saw, he died.” As some of us not-so-giddy types had warned would happen, Libya then became a safe haven for terrorists who turned on the American and Western forces that had cleared the path for them.

In small compass, this is the story of J. Christopher Stevens, the U.S. ambassador killed in the Benghazi massacre. As Business Insider’s Michael B. Kelley recounts, before becoming ambassador, Stevens was the Obama administration’s official liaison to Qaddafi’s Islamist opposition in Libya, including its al-Qaeda-linked groups. The latter included the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG). Stevens worked directly with a top LIFG leader, Abdelhakim Belhadj.

When the Qaddafi regime was ousted, Belhadj took control of the Tripoli Military Council. In 2011, Belhadj met with anti-Assad “rebels” in Turkey to plan weapons shipments from Libya to Syria. As Mr. Kelley explains, in September 2012 the Times of London reported that “a Libyan ship ‘carrying the largest consignment of weapons for Syria . . . has docked in Turkey.’” According to that report:

The shipment reportedly weighed 400 tons and included SA-7 surface-to-air anti-craft missiles and rocket-propelled grenades. Those heavy weapons are most likely from Muammar Gaddafi’s stock of about 20,000 portable heat-seeking missiles — the bulk of them SA-7s — that the Libyan leader obtained from the former Eastern bloc. Reuters reports that Syrian rebels have been using those heavy weapons to shoot down Syrian helicopters and fighter jets. The ship’s captain was “a Libyan from Benghazi and the head of an organization called the Libyan National Council for Relief and Support,” which was presumably established by the new government.

Fox News subsequently reported that the ship, a Libyan-flagged vessel, Al-Entisar (The Victory), docked in the Turkish port of Iskenderun, only 35 miles from the Syrian border, on September 6, 2012. That was just five days before jihadists conducted the patently coordinated terrorist attack on the mysterious State Department and CIA compounds in Benghazi, killing four Americans including Stevens — who had been promoted to ambassador in May.

It is incontestable that the Obama administration has worked closely with the Islamist government of Turkey in efforts to arm and train “rebels” in Syria. Stevens’s last meeting on the night of September 11, 2012, right before the State Department’s Benghazi compound was attacked, was with Turkey’s consul general, Ali Sait Akin.

RELATED: Why Doesn’t the Buck Stop with Hillary?

In the months leading up to the attack on the State Department facility, and on the even more shadowy CIA outpost a little over a mile away, jihadists in eastern Libyaconducted a series of attacks against Western targets — including, on June 6, 2012, a bomb detonated just outside the State Department compound. The British government and the International Red Cross pulled their personnel out; yet the Obama administration left U.S. government personnel in, despite grossly inadequate security precautions.

Why? I believe that one significant mission was the coordination of weapons transfers from Libya to Syrian jihadists.

Remember the state of play in mid 2012. Obama was locked in a tight reelection race. He was falsely claiming that he had “decimated” al-Qaeda (which was actually thriving); that he was ending American wars (which were actually intensifying as he drew troops down despite ground conditions); and that his pro-Islamist policies were helping forge democracy in places like Egypt (then under Muslim Brotherhood rule) and Libya (which had disintegrated into a failed state under domination by Islamist militias). Prior to the November election, if Obama had openly announced that his administration was arming Syrian Islamists, it would have been highly controversial. It would have spotlighted how that same policy had failed in Libya, a fact to which neither the media nor Republicans had called public attention. This, no doubt, is why reports that Obama was “launching a covert operation to send weapons to Syrian rebels for the first time” (as the Times of London’s Christina Lamb put it) did not appear untilimmediately after Obama had won a second term.

Were Obama, Clinton, and others in the administration steering arms to Syrian jihadists before that time?

RELATED: The Benghazi Debacle Should Have Ended Hillary Clinton’s Career

Recall that in mid 2012, Obama was also feeling heat — from the Islamist regimes he was appeasing, from Beltway Republicans, and even from some in his own administration, apparently including Secretary Clinton — for not doing enough to help the “rebels” drive Assad from power in Syria. There was a good explanation for this reluctance: Our government knew that the Syrian “rebels,” like the Libyan “rebels,” teemed with jihadists. Not only has this fact long been notorious; Judicial Watch managed to wangle from the government an August 2012 Defense Department memo that flatly states, “The Salafist [sic], the Muslim Brotherhood, and AQI [i.e., al-Qaeda in Iraq] are the major forces driving the insurgency in Syria.” The memo elaborates that its reference to AQI incorporates both Jaish al-Nusra (which is al-Qaeda’s main affiliate in Syria) and the Islamic State (the breakaway “caliphate” spawned by AQI).

There was no defensible security arrangement or diplomatic need for the State Department facility in Benghazi (U.S. diplomatic functions were handled in Tripoli). Was its real purpose to give diplomatic cover to covert intelligence operations (such as those at the nearby CIA compound)? If so, did those operations include aiding and abetting the arming of the Syrian rebels?

Unnamed U.S. government sources furtively described the CIA facility as, according to Reuters, “a base for, among other things, collecting information on the proliferation of weaponry looted from Libyan government arsenals, including surface-to-air missiles” (my italics). Putting aside the administration’s recklessness in failing to keep Qaddafi’s arsenals out of jihadist hands, what are the “other things” that the State Department and the CIA were up to?

We know, as detailed above, that Ambassador Stevens’s jihadist contact, Belhadj, moved an enormous shipment of weapons from Benghazi to the Syrian “rebels” in Turkey. And we know that, while claiming not to be directly arming those “rebels,” the Obama administration was working with Turkey, the Saudis, and other Islamist governments to determine which Syrian “rebels” should be armed. As the New York Times reported in June 2012, some three months before the Benghazi massacre:

A small number of C.I.A. officers are operating secretly in southern Turkey, helping allies decide which Syrian opposition fighters across the border will receive arms to fight the Syrian government, according to American officials and Arab intelligence officers. The weapons, including automatic rifles, rocket-propelled grenades, ammunition and some antitank weapons, are being funneled mostly across the Turkish border by way of a shadowy network of intermediaries including Syria’s Muslim Brotherhood and paid for by Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, the officials said.

The Times elaborated that “the Obama administration has said it is not providing arms to the rebels, but it has also acknowledged that Syria’s neighbors would do so.” To repeat, however: Soon after Obama’s reelection, the Times was explaining that “with help from the C.I.A., Arab governments and Turkey have sharply increased their military aid to Syria’s opposition fighters in recent months, expanding a secret airlift of arms and equipment.” And by June 2013, the Times reported that the administration had begundirectly supplying the Syrian “rebels” with “small arms and ammunition.”

Right after Stevens and three other Americans were killed in Benghazi, the U.K.’s Telegraph reported that the CIA’s facility there was an operation “to supply missiles from Libyan armouries to Syrian rebels.” Simultaneously, CNN’s Jake Tapper reported that enormous pressure was being brought to bear on CIA operatives not to reveal what the agency had been doing in Benghazi.

When Mrs. Clinton testified about the Benghazi massacre before a Senate committee in early 2013, she claimed to have no knowledge of any transfers of weapons from Libya to Turkey, Syria, or any other countries. As the The Daily Signal report details, Clinton was pointedly asked by Senator Rand Paul (R., Ken.) whether the U.S. had been “involved in any procuring of weapons, transfer of weapons, buying, selling, anyhow transferring weapons to Turkey out of Libya.” She initially tried to deflect the question, claiming that “nobody’s ever raised that with me.” But Senator Paul kept pressing:

It’s been in news reports that ships have been leaving from Libya and that they may have weapons. And what Id’ like to know is, that [CIA] annex that was close by [the State Department facility], were they involved with procuring, buying, selling, obtaining weapons, and were any of these weapons being transferred to other countries? Any countries, Turkey included?

When Mrs. Clinton again tried to deflect, suggesting that he instead put the question “to the agency that ran the annex” — as if the State Department had had no knowledge of what the CIA was doing next door — Senator Paul countered that he was asking about what Clinton herself knew. Mrs. Clinton answered, “I don’t know. I don’t have any information on that.”

Was she telling the truth? Were U.S. personnel stationed as sitting ducks in Benghazi in order to help supply weapons to Syria, where it was inevitable they would fall into the hands of America’s enemies? Perhaps we’ll soon find out.

— Andrew C. McCarthy is as senior policy fellow at the National Review Institute and a contributing editor of National Review.

US airstrikes target Islamic State stronghold in Libya

Fighters from the Al Bunyan Al Marsoos (“Solid Structure”) operations room in Sirte, Libya.

Fighters from the Al Bunyan Al Marsoos (“Solid Structure”) operations room in Sirte, Libya.

Long War Journal, BY BILL ROGGIO AND THOMAS JOSCELYN | August 1, 2016

The US military acknowledged today that it has targeted the Islamic State’s Libyan arm in the city of Sirte. The air strikes are part of an effort to deal a blow to the jihadist group in its largest base of operations inside Libya.

“Today, at the request of the Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA), the United States military conducted precision air strikes against ISIL [Islamic State] targets in Sirte, Libya, to support GNA-affiliated forces seeking to defeat ISIL in its primary stronghold in Libya,” the Pentagon stated in a press release.

“These strikes were authorized by the president following a recommendation from Secretary [of Defense] Carter and Chairman [of the Joint Chiefs of Staff] Dunford,” the statement continued. “They are consistent with our approach to combating ISIL by working with capable and motivated local forces. GNA-aligned forces have had success in recapturing territory from ISIL thus far around Sirte, and additional US strikes will continue to target ISIL in Sirte in order to enable the GNA to make a decisive, strategic advance.”

The airstrikes were confirmed by Libya’s prime minister and Al Bunyan Al Marsoos (“Solid Structure”), an operations room that is allied with the UN-backed government and recruits fighters from Islamist militias in Misrata and elsewhere. According to Al Bunyan Al Marsoos, an Islamic State “tank” was targeted and destroyed by US aircraft.

Al Bunyan Al Marsoos launched an offensive to retake Sirte in late May and claimed it would “be liberated within days.” While the Islamic State lost some ground during the initial fighting, the situation in Sirte has largely stalemated. American airpower was likely called in because the offensive has stalled and the US can provide superior targeting against the jihadists, who remain entrenched in the interior of the city. [See LWJ report, Libyan forces seize key points from the Islamic State around Sirte.]

As Al Bunyan Al Marsoos advanced on the city in May, the Islamic State’s Libyan “province” was forced to deploy its “martyrs.” The jihadists launched zero suicide attacks in and around Sirte during the first four months of the year, according to data published by Amaq News Agency, which is part of the the Islamic State’s media machine. But then, in May, the organization dispatched nine suicide bombers in Sirte and on the outskirts of the city. This was a clear indication that the Islamc State’s grip on the area was slipping, as the organization previously did not need to use its “martyrs” to beat back its opponents.

The loss of Sirte would be a major blow to the Islamic State and its efforts to control territory outside of Iraq and Syria. The group seized Sirte in June 2015 and has repeatedly showcased the city as one of its main bases outside of its holdings in Iraq and Syria.

Sirte is so important to the Islamic State that the group’s spokesman, Abu Muhammad al Adnani, mentioned it alongside Raqqa, Syria and Mosul, Iraq in a speech in May. Raqqa and Mosul are the de facto capitals of the self-declared caliphate and, as such, the most important cities under the jihadists’ control.

In his speech, titled “That They Live By Proof,” Adnani implicitly conceded that the Islamic State could lose one or all three of these cities. Adnani argued that neither the loss of individual leaders, nor the “loss of a city or the loss of land,” would mean that the Islamic State has been defeated as long as the jihadists retained the will to fight.

The newly announced operations in Sirte are the first publicly acknowledged airstrikes by the US in Libya since Feb. 2016, when American warplanes attacked an Islamic State training camp near Sabratha. The US targeted Noureddine Chouchane, who was described by the Pentagon as a “senior facilitator” for the so-called caliphate and was “associated with the training camp.” Chouchane is thought to be involved in two high profile terrorist attacks in Tunisia in 2015 and reportedly played a significant role in the Islamic State’s external operations network that plots and executes attacks against the West. [See LWJreport, US airstrike targets Islamic State operative, training camp in Libya.]

On Nov. 13, 2015, the US killed Wissam Najm Abd Zayd al Zubaydi, also known as Abu Nabil al Anbari, in an airstrike. Zubaydi, an Iraqi national, “was a longtime al Qaeda operative and the senior ISIL [Islamic State] leader in Libya,” according to a statement by the US military. Some accounts indicated that Zubaydi served as the lead executioner in the February 2015 massacre of Coptic Christians on the Libyan coast.

The airstrikes in Sirte highlight the expanding war against the Islamic State, which has claimed responsibility for multiple terrorist attacks in the West over the past year.

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

Hillary’s Libya Debacle


Front Page Magazine, by Joseph Klein, July 13, 2016:

Colin Powell’s famous words, “You break it, you own it,” are coming back to haunt Hillary Clinton. Powell said those words in cautioning President George W. Bush about the harsh unintended consequences that could result from the military action to oust Saddam Hussein in Iraq, which Hillary voted to support while in the Senate. As Secretary of State, Hillary forgot all about Colin Powell’s prescient warning. She became the prime mover within the Obama administration for military action to forcibly remove Libya’s President Muammar Gaddafi. In fact, upon learning of his death at the hands of a mob, Hillary Clinton exulted. Paraphrasing Julius Caesar, Hillary proclaimed on Oct. 20, 2011:  “We came, we saw, he died.”

What followed the toppling of Gaddafi’s regime, however, was utter chaos, not the smooth transition to a pluralistic democracy that Hillary had naively envisioned. Indeed, the anarchy that ensued has created a dire strategic threat to the United States and its Western and Arab allies that had not existed during the last years of Gaddafi’s reign. Especially after Gaddafi announced the end of his nuclear weapons program in December 2003 and followed through with allowing the removal of nuclear materials thereafter, his regime posed no strategic threat to U.S. national security.

No doubt Gaddafi was a brutal dictator, who sought to ruthlessly put down the rebellion that threatened his rule. However, his death and the end of his regime, which Hillary celebrated, fixed nothing.

Robert Gates, Obama’s Defense Secretary at the time, along with other senior leaders in the Obama administration such as Vice President Joseph Biden and Tom Donilon, the national security adviser, foresaw the dangers of an ill-planned U.S. military intervention without a realistic plan for a peaceful transition. They warned against it. But Hillary’s call for intervention won out.  She persuaded a reluctant President Obama to enter the fray in support of our European and Arab allies on humanitarian grounds.

Hillary spent countless hours shuttling among foreign capitals to shore up what became a NATO-led coalition against Gaddafi’s regime.  She engineered the passage of a UN Security Council resolution authorizing the use of military force in Libya to protect the vulnerable civilian population, which she apparently interpreted to authorize outright regime change. Hillary had personally met with the chairman of the Libyan Transitional National Council, Mustafa Abdel-Jalil and other Libyans who might become a part of a successor regime. Her top aide Jake Sullivan explained Hillary’s confidence in these leaders’ ability to bring the various factions in the country together to form a relatively stable, democratic and inclusive post-Gaddafi transitional government. He said Hillary had received written pledges to bring about just such a transition from the Transitional National Council.

In a succession of e-mails, Hillary’s senior aides at the State Department, and her informal outside confidante Sidney Blumenthal, sang her praises for leading the implementation of the Libyan strategy she had pushed Obama to accept.

“First, brava! This is a historic moment and you will be credited for realizing it,” Blumenthal wrote on Aug. 22, 2011. “When Qaddafi himself is finally removed, you should of course make a public statement before the cameras wherever you are, even in the driveway of your vacation home. You must go on camera. You must establish yourself in the historical record at this moment. The most important phrase is: ‘successful strategy.’”

Hillary chomped at the bit to take credit for what she initially regarded as a great success in Libya when things seemed to be going well. She sent an e-mail to her top aide at the State Department, Jake Sullivan, forwarding Blumenthal’s recommendation. “Pls read below,” Hillary wrote. “Sid makes a good case for what I should say, but it’s premised on being said after Q[addafi] goes, which will make it more dramatic.”

Sycophant Sullivan wrote back, “it might make sense for you to do an op-ed to run right after he falls, making this point. You can reinforce the op-ed in all your appearances, but it makes sense to lay down something definitive, almost like the Clinton Doctrine.”

Sullivan had already written an e-mail to two other high level State Department officials, Cheryl Mills and Victoria Nuland, just a day before the above-mentioned Blumenthal e-mail, effusively praising his boss for her leadership role in steering Obama administration policy on Libya. “HRC has been a critical voice on Libya in administration deliberations, at NATO, and in contact group meetings — as well as the public face of the U.S. effort in Libya. She was instrumental in securing the authorization, building the coalition, and tightening the noose around Qadhafi and his regime.”

Sullivan then laid out a detailed chronology of all the actions Hillary had taken to accomplish her mission.

However, Hillary’s mission turned into a strategic disaster.  Weapons in the hands of non-state actors, including jihadists, were spreading from Libya across national borders to help further inflame conflicts in Mali, Syria, and elsewhere. Migrants were using Libya as a disembarkation point to try and reach Europe across the Mediterranean Sea in overwhelming numbers. Armed militias fought each other within Libya, while rival governments were formed. Anti-American jihadists, who benefitted from the outcome of the ‘Clinton Doctrine” in Libya, filled the power vacuum. The tragic result was the terrorist attack in Benghazi that took four Americans’ lives on September 11, 2012, including the life of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens.

Just as Hillary was, in the words of FBI Director James Comey, “extremely careless” in the handling of classified information on her private e-mail system, she was reckless in ignoring clear warning signals leading up to the deadly September 11th Benghazi terrorist attack. Indeed, in addition to threats, there were previous terrorist attacks, including one in June 2012 against the U.S. consulate compound itself and another the same month hitting a convoy carrying the British ambassador. The British decided to evacuate from Benghazi. Yet Hillary pressed on to establish a permanent U.S. diplomatic facility in Benghazi. Ambassador Chris Stevens took his fateful trip to Benghazi in September 2012 in part to advance Hillary’s plan. “At least one of the reasons he was in Benghazi was to further the secretary’s wish that that post become a permanent constituent post and also there because we understood the secretary intended to visit Tripoli later in the year,” Deputy Chief of Mission Gregory Hicks testified to a Congressional committee in 2013.

Multiple requests from people on the ground in Libya for more security, including some from Ambassador Stevens himself, were sent to the State Department prior to the September 11, 2012 attack.  Stevens’ last diary entry was “never ending security threats.”  Somehow the security concerns never reached Hillary’s desk. She told the House Benghazi Committee that “I was not responsible for specific security requests.”  But Hillary’s attempt to wash her hands of any responsibility raises more questions than it answers.

Hillary said that Stevens was a friend. She had, in her words, “hand-picked” Stevens for what she knew was a highly dangerous post even as her so-called Clinton Doctrine unraveled. By her own account, there was “lawlessness” in Benghazi, which she said Stevens had been aware of. Yet she never bothered to reach out to him directly to ask whether there was sufficient security for the mission she had hand-picked her friend to carry out.  She simply said that Stevens knew the risks and “felt comfortable” with conditions on the ground. One phone call or e-mail directly to her personal friend would have informed her of Stevens’ concerns over the “never ending security threats.” Hillary had not even provided Stevens with her cell phone number, fax number or personal e-mail address in case he needed to reach her. Apparently, Hillary had less compunctions about giving out that contact information to Blumenthal.

Through her reckless indifference to the security needs of Stevens and other Americans who became caught in the terrorist attack at the Benghazi facility that she wanted to make permanent, Hillary Clinton for all intents and purposes left them there unprotected to face the deadly consequences. She then lied to the families of the victims of the attack, telling them that an obscure anti-Muslim video was the cause of the attack when she knew at the time that the attack was a coordinated, pre-meditated act of jihadist terrorism. And she doubled down on her reckless indifference – literally – a year later at a Senate hearing with her infamous remark: “What difference at this point does it make?”

As she runs to become the next president and commander-in-chief, Hillary Clinton is trying to disown what she broke in Libya. Her recklessness and indifference to the consequences of her actions, as well as her lies to cover up her mistakes, follow the same pattern as her e-mail debacle and should disqualify her from the presidency.

Also see:

US Africa commander nominee: No ‘grand strategy’ to confront ISIS in Libya

694940094001_4767639608001_4a564451-fa49-46bd-853b-f20a3b171636Fox News, By Lucas Tomlinson, June 21, 2016:

The general tapped to lead U.S. Africa Command told Capitol Hill lawmakers Tuesday he did not know of any “overall grand strategy” to defeat ISIS in Libya.

Marine Lt. Gen. Thomas D. Waldhauser made the comments under questioning from Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain, R-Ariz.

“I am not aware of any overall grand strategy at this point,” Waldhauser said.

The statement comes a week after CIA Director John Brennan delivered a stark warning to Congress about the growth of ISIS fighters around the world. He estimated the group has 5,000-8,000 fighters inside Libya.

During Tuesday’s Senate committee hearing, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., asked Waldhauser if those ISIS fighters could one day conduct attacks against Europe.

“Eventually they could, yes,” he replied.

Waldhauser is the nominee to be U.S. commander of Africa Command, but has not been confirmed yet.

He also said Tuesday he would not have the authority, as the top U.S. commander in Africa, to go after ISIS targets on his own inside Africa, while suggesting “it would be wise” to hit those targets.

The U.S. military has carried out two airstrikes inside Libya since late last year.

Two U.S. F-15E jet fighters flying out of Lakenheath, England, likely killed the ISIS leader in Libya, Abu Nabil, in mid-November. The Iraqi national was a longtime Al Qaeda operative and the senior ISIS leader in Libya, according to Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook.

In February, U.S. jets also bombed an ISIS training camp in Libya, killing a senior ISIS leader and an estimated 30 ISIS recruits fighters on the ground.

A senior U.S. official told Fox News at the time that the target of the airstrike was Noureddine Chouchane, a senior ISIS figure in Libya who was likely killed.

The airstrike on the ISIS base in Sabratha, Libya, was also carried out by F-15s flying from England. Local reports initially suggested more than 30 people had been killed. However, it was not immediately clear how many ISIS terrorists were among the dead.

Adding to the concern in the West is evidence that the number of ISIS fighters in Libya is increasing, according to America’s top spy.

CIA Director Brennan said last week the estimated 5,000-8,000 ISIS fighters on the ground are up from an estimated 2,000-5,000 in February.

The U.S. military has deployed a small number of U.S. special operations forces there in the past few months, according to Cook.

Waldhauser said no more troops are needed at this moment.

Asked afterward by Fox News if Defense Secretary Ash Carter agreed with Waldhauser’s assessment that there is no “overall grand strategy” in Libya, Cook also declined to answer, saying Libya remains “a very complicated situation.”

Lucas Tomlinson is the Pentagon and State Department producer for Fox News Channel. You can follow him on Twitter: @LucasFoxNews

Also see:


SHOCKING: ISIS Fighters Are Disguising Themselves As Refugees [VIDEO]

Constitution, by Bethany Blankley, June 21, 2016:

CNN recently reported on a reality all to familiar with Libyan Immigration Police: ISIS fighters are disguising themselves as refugees to enter other countries to commit terrorist attacks.

Ismail al-Shukri, a police commander, told CNN, “ISIS can be among the illegal immigrants on the boats. They travel with their families, without weapons as normal illegal immigrants. They will wear American dress and have English language papers so they cause no suspicion.”

CNN Senior International Correspondent Nick Paton Walsh, who accompanied police near Tripoli to a warehouse raid, reported:

“But there is a new threat here, smugglers and police telling us that ISIS have hidden fighters among other groups of migrants bound for Europe. This trade in human souls is awful enough until you think that perhaps ISIS are using this passage of human life into Europe to try and infiltrate the continent with sleeper cells. Police tell us off-camera they’ve caught different, other migrants with ISIS links and a top Libyan intelligence officials warns us, the threat is real.”

Walsh spoke to a smuggler who explained that he and other smugglers frequently ferry ISIS members from Libya to European ports.

“Do you and other smugglers feel comfortable moving people who may be ISIS towards Europe?” Walsh asked him. He replied, “Smugglers are only interested in smuggling. Only money matters.”

The Islamic State’s prolific ‘martyrdom’ machine

isis suicide attacksLONG WAR JOURNAL, BY | June 8, 2016:

The Islamic State claims to have executed 489 “martyrdom operations” in Iraq, Syria and Libya during the first five months of 2016. The figure comes from monthly data published by Amaq News Agency, a propaganda arm of the so-called caliphate that releases infographics summarizing the group’s suicide attacks.

Amaq’s most recent infographic (seen on the right) indicates that the jihadists executed 119 “martyrdom operations” in the month of May alone. If Amaq’s figures are accurate, then the Islamic State is launching suicide attacks at a historically high rate.

Earlier this month, for example, the State Department reported that there were 726 “suicide attacks” executed by all perpetrators around the globe in 2015. Therefore, all terrorist groups, including the Islamic State, carried out an average of 61 suicide bombings per month in 2015. The Islamic State nearly doubled that rate in May and has exceeded it by more than 20 attacks each month this year, according to Amaq’s infographics.

The data referenced by Foggy Bottom is compiled by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START), which maintains an “unclassified event database compiled from information in open-source reports of terrorist attacks.”

According to START’s data, 2015 witnessed a record number of suicide bombings. But 2016 is currently on pace to eclipse that high-water mark.

While Amaq’s claims are difficult to independently verify, the statistics are reasonable given the scale of the Islamic State’s fighting. Abu Bakr al Baghdadi’s men routinely claim credit for simultaneous suicide bombings. The organization is taking on multiple adversaries in every country where it operates, making the use of suicide bombings (one of the jihadists’ most effective tactics) an especially important tool. For instance, the State Department noted that “[o]n average, suicide attacks in 2015 were 4.6 times as lethal as non-suicide attacks.”

A recent video from Al Hayat, another one of the Islamic State’s mouthpieces, trumpeted this “caliphate vs. the world” mentality. In “The Religion of Kufr Is One,” Al Hayat made it clear that Baghdadi’s enterprise is at war with virtually everyone else. The subtitle of the video, “The Islamic State and its methodology dealing with all apostate parties and nations of disbelief,” underscored the degree to which this is the group’s deliberate strategy.

The Islamic State’s prolific use of “martyrs” probably highlights both its strength and weakness. On the one hand, there are likely more people, predominately young men, willing to die for the jihadists’ cause today than ever. (It should also be noted that adolescents and even children have been used in suicide attacks.) On the other hand, most of the organization’s suicide attackers are being dispatched in areas where the “caliphate” is being challenged, including locations that were once under its control.

The Long War Journal assesses that Islamic State is being forced to deploy many of its “martyrs” because its territorial claims are being rolled back in Iraq, Syria and even Libya.

The Long War Journal has tallied the figures provided on Amaq’s infographics from January through May of 2016. The English-language versions of these infographics can be seen below.

The following observations have been culled from Amaq’s statistics.

Most of the Islamic State’s “martyrdom operations,” 303 of the 489 claimed (62 percent), have been carried out inside Iraq. Approximately half of these (152 of 303) have been launched in Anbar province, where the jihadists are engaged in fierce battles with Iraqi government forces and Iranian-backed Shiite militias for months. Salahuddin (52 suicide attacks), Nineveh (40), Baghdad (32), and Kirkuk (17) are the next most frequently targeted areas.

The Islamic State launched 175 suicide attacks in Syria (36 percent of the total) during the first five months of the year. Aleppo province (59) was hit most frequently, followed by Hasakah (33), Deir Ezzor (25), Homs (20) and Raqqa (14) provinces. Raqqa is, of course, the de facto capital of the Islamic State. Amaq’s data indicate that 12 of the 14 suicide attacks there this year were carried out in February.

The remaining 11 “martyrdom operations” took place in Libya. Interestingly, Amaq claimed only one suicide attack in Libya from January through April. But the infographic for May shows 10 such bombings. Nine of the 10 have been executed in and around Sirte, the group’s central base of operations in Libya. The Islamic State’s presence in Sirte has been under assault from multiple directions for weeks, with the jihadists losing their grip on some of the neighboring towns and key facilities. Thus, the group is likely attempting to stymie its rivals’ advances with the deployment of its suicide bombers.

Iraqi forces are the most frequent target of the Islamic State’s “martyrdom operations,” as they were hit 279 times from January through May. Bashar al Assad’s regime is the second most frequent target, with the Islamic State’s suicide bombers striking the Syrian government’s forces on 89 occasions. The remaining bombings struck “Kurdish units” (54), the “Syrian opposition” (31 times), the Peshmerga (25), Fajr Libya (10) and General Khalifa Haftar’s fighters in Libya (1).

Vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices (VBIEDs) are used more often than individual bombers strapped with explosives, according to Amaq. The infographics count 301 VBIEDs used in suicide attacks (62 percent of the total) as compared to 184 bombings using explosive belts, jackets and vests. The remaining four are listed as “dual operations.”

Assuming Amaq’s data are accurate, then the Islamic State’s “martyrdom” machine is setting a record pace for suicide operations.

See more

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

Also see:

Islamic State details operations against jihadist rivals in Derna, Libya

Long War Journal, by Thomas Joscelyn, March 18, 2016:

The 21st issue of the Islamic State’s weekly Al Naba newsletter, which was released earlier this month, contains an infographic (seen below) that says much about the organization’s operations inside Libya. The image purportedly summarizes “the most important military operations” against the “apostate Awakenings and the Libyan Army” in the city of Derna during a three-month period that ended Feb. 29, 2016.

Screen Shot 2016-03-18 at 2.19.33 PM

A map at the top of the infographic highlights four key cities along the Mediterranean coast. From west to east they are: Sirte, Benghazi, Derna and Tobruk. Sirte has fallen to the “caliphate’s” fighters, who also control the neighboring towns of Nawfaliyah and Bin Jawad. In Benghazi, the Islamic State’s arm most likely cooperates, tacitly or otherwise, with other jihadists against General Khalifa Haftar’s forces in the Libyan National Army.

But the story in the eastern city of Derna has been different. Abu Bakr al Baghdadi’s followers have repeatedly fought their jihadist rivals in the Mujahideen Shura Council (MSC) and other aligned factions since last year. The MSC has received the backing of al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and has noteworthy ties to al Qaeda’s international organization.

The Islamic State refers to the MSC and allied organizations as the “apostate Awakenings.” The term “Awakenings” was once reserved for the Islamic State’s tribal opponents in Iraq, but the “caliphate” has broadened the meaning of the term to include even those organizations affiliated with al Qaeda.

Al Naba notes that the entirety of Derna falls under the jurisdiction of the Wilayat Barqah (or its eastern Cyrenaica Province). But the Islamic State’s “soldiers” are based in Al Fatayih (an area in the eastern part of the city) and its surrounding areas, as opposed to the heart of Derna. This is due to the group’s battles with the MSC last year. The Islamic State’s men were forced to abandon their strongholds in Derna’s center for the outlying neighborhoods.

According to the statistics in Al Naba’s infographic, however, the Islamic State continues to battle its jihadist foes. Its snipers targeted the “apostate Awakenings” 15 times and the group also detonated 32 improvised explosive devices against them as well. The “caliphate’s” soldiers launched 7 commando operations.

In sum, Al Naba’s editors claim that 250 members of the “Awakenings” and the Libyan Army were killed or wounded, four tanks and 18 other military vehicles were destroyed, and five military outposts were overrun. In addition, several vehicles were captured, along with a variety of other weapons and ammunition. The Islamic State does not break these figures down further, so there is no way to tell how the alleged casualties were distributed between the “Awakenings” and Haftar’s forces.

These statistics cannot be independently verified, but Al Naba’s infographic highlights the ongoing fighting between the Islamic State’s Libyan arm and its jihadist foes.


Must see – Libya : interactive map of major actions linked with ISIS or presumably ISIS in Libya since January 2016 ( h/t Sebastian Gorka


Also see:

ISIS Now Possesses Anti-Aircraft Missiles; Can Reach Europe

An Islamic-State fighter with a shoulder-held missile. (Photo: Islamic-State video screenshot)

An Islamic-State fighter with a shoulder-held missile. (Photo: Islamic-State video screenshot)

Clarion Project, March 13, 2016:

The U.S. and U.N. have confirmed the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) in Libya now possesses shoulder-held missiles capable of downing civilian or military aircraft.

The admission puts planes in North and West Africa as well as all of Europe in danger.

The Islamic State’s stock of MANPADs (man portable air defense systems) originated from the stockpiles of weapons looted after Libya’s dictator Muammar Gaddafi was overthrown by rebels in 2011.

Gaddafi was believed to have possessed 20,000 MANPADs (Russian-made SA-7 and SA-16 models) by the time of his demise. An American team, acting in Libya after the coup, managed to locate and destroy 5,000 of the missiles.

The team leader, speaking on the condition of anonymity told The Independent, “There’s a large number still there in Libya, where some of the larger militia groups still maintain the stocks that they originally took control of back in 2011.” He acknowledged that others have been smuggled to extremist groups fighting in the Sinai, Syria, Nigeria and Mali.

“We might never know where they went,” he added.

After the Sept. 11, 2012 attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, which also housed a secret CIA post, intelligence sources — crucial to tracking these weapons – were lost. Two years later, the team pulled out of Libya entirely, as the deteriorating security situation turned into a full-fledged civil war and made operating there too dangerous.

Analysts question why the weapons, which are clearly in the hands of terrorists have not been used to date, save for one confirmed instance in January 2014, when (according to Egyptian and Israeli officials) Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis used the weapon to shoot down an Egyptian military helicopter in the Sinai, killing five soldiers.

However, in February, the Islamic State in Libya claimed to have shot down a Libyan government MiG-23 fighter jet west of Benghazi while it was bombing an Islamist militia. While the Libyan government claims the plane went down due to “technical problems,” an analysis of a subsequent ISIS video of the incident by U.S. intelligence officials proved the Islamic State’s claim was most likely correct. The Islamic State also claims to have downed two other planes that the Libyan government said crashed since January because of technical problems.

In Libya, other warring factions each have good reason not to use the weapon, which would certainly stop flights in and out of the country and mean lack of supplies for each side. Arms smugglers also have reason to want the airports left open, with each missile selling for $12,000 on the black market.

But the real wildcat in this conflict is the Islamic State, which now controls a 150-mile swath of territory on Libya’s Mediterranean  coast, including the city of Sirte, a perfect place for the terror organization to regroup if defeated in Syria and Iraq and a base from which to expand into Europe, North and Sub-Saharan Africa.

The New York Times’ Cover-Up of Hillary’s Illegal Libyan War

hillary_clinton4Frontpage, by Daniel Greenfield, Feb. 28, 2016:

More than any other paper, the New York Times has held Obama’s foreign policy line. It’s been the place where administration sources leaked stories and narratives. The New York Times ran David Kilpatrick’s desperate attempt to shore up the “YouTube Video Caused Benghazi” lie at a time when even most of the media was unwilling to keep repeating that bizarre claim any more.

So the New York Times is the natural outlet for yet another whitewash of the illegal Libyan War. This one is more about Democrats than Republicans. Jim Webb, and in his own clumsy way, Bernie Sanders have raised the Libya issue. Tulsi Gabbard quit the DNC and endorsed Bernie Sanders in part over Libya. The New York Times’ multipart Hillary Libya series is about making that war palatable to liberals.

Excuse #1 is that Hillary Clinton just has a bias for action.

Anne-Marie Slaughter, her director of policy planning at the State Department, notes that in conversation and in her memoir, Mrs. Clinton repeatedly speaks of wanting to be “caught trying.” In other words, she would rather be criticized for what she has done than for having done nothing at all.

“She’s very careful and reflective,” Ms. Slaughter said. “But when the choice is between action and inaction, and you’ve got risks in either direction, which you often do, she’d rather be caught trying.”

That’s probably the worst excuse imaginable. It’s also flagrantly dishonest. Hillary Clinton didn’t have a bias for action in Sudan. She had a bias for action when it came to overthrowing regimes on behalf of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Excuse #2 the Genocide Lie

The piece only indirectly addresses this. But it’s the reason Obama gave for intervention. He claimed that massacres were about to happen in Benghazi. He suggested that much of the city might be wiped out. None of this was real or true.

“Jake Sullivan, Mrs. Clinton’s top foreign-policy aide at State and now in her campaign, said her view was that “we have to live in a world of risks.” In assessing the situation in Libya, he said, “she didn’t know for certain at the time, nor did any of us, what would happen — only that it passed a risk threshold that demanded that we look very hard at the response.”

What was the basis for this risk threshold? Why did genocide in Africa fail to meet this imaginary threshold?

The left spent a decade howling about Iraq. It has still failed to address the simple fact that Obama lied about the basis for the war in Libya. And Hillary Clinton handfed him that lie.

Excuse #3 Regime Change, Not Protecting Civilians

The No Fly Zone was a hoax. No such zone was needed. Nor was it about protecting civilians, but aiding Muslim terrorists.

“We basically destroyed Qaddafi’s air defenses and stopped the advance of his forces within three days,” recalled Mr. Rhodes, the deputy national security adviser.

But the mission quickly evolved from protecting civilians in Benghazi to protecting civilians wherever they were. As the rebellion swelled and bystanders became combatants, the endgame became ever more murky. The United States and its allies were increasingly drawn to one side of the fighting, without extended debate over what that shift portended.

Not only is this a ridiculous lie, but it’s contradicted early on in the same article as it mentions a covert program of transferring weapons to the terrorists. This wasn’t even about protecting the terrorists, though it began that way, it was about destroying Gaddafi’s forces.

It’s 2016 and the media is still maintaining the same tired lie.

“I can’t recall any specific decision that said, ‘Well, let’s just take him out,’” Mr. Gates said. Publicly, he said, “the fiction was maintained” that the goal was limited to disabling Colonel Qaddafi’s command and control. In fact, the former defense secretary said, “I don’t think there was a day that passed that people didn’t hope he would be in one of those command and control centers.”

That’s regime change. It’s invasion and assassination. Gaddafi was a bad guy. He got what he deserved. But let’s stop playing this game in which there was never a war or an invasion. Or it was about protecting “civilians”.

By April, the president had authorized the use of drones, and, according to a senior rebel commander, C.I.A. operatives began visiting rebel camps and “providing us with intercepts of Qaddafi’s troop movements.”

To “protect civilians”.

“There was a moment, around about June or July,” recalled Mr. Shapiro, the State Department’s Libya policy adviser, “when the situation on the ground seemed to settle into a stalemate and we weren’t sure we were winning, or at least winning quickly enough.”

So we’ve gone from the ‘protecting civilians’ myth to straight up trying to win a war.

Obama ultimately took her side, according to the administration officials who described the debate. After he signed a secret document called a presidential finding, approving a covert operation, a list of approved weaponry was drawn up. The shipments arranged by the United States and other Western countries generally arrived through the port of Benghazi and airports in eastern Libya, a Libyan rebel commander said.

“Humvees, counterbattery radar, TOW missiles was the highest end we talked about,” one State Department official recalled. “We were definitely giving them lethal assistance. We’d crossed that line.”

How many of those weapons have been used against us since then?

Excuse #4: Hillary 2016

Mrs. Clinton’s old friend and political adviser, Sidney Blumenthal, who regularly emailed her political advice and vaguely sourced intelligence reports on Libya, urged her to capitalize on the dictator’s fall.

“Brava!” Mr. Blumenthal exclaimed. As always, he was thinking about Mrs. Clinton’s presidential ambitions. “You must go on camera. You must establish yourself in the historical record at this moment.” She should be sure to use the phrase “successful strategy,” he wrote. “You are vindicated.”

This is the first mention of Blumenthal even though it’s clear from her emails that he was far more influential and had his own interests in Libya.

Two days before, Mrs. Clinton had taken a triumphal tour of the Libyan capital, Tripoli, and for weeks top aides had been circulating a “ticktock” that described her starring role in the events that had led to this moment. The timeline, her top policy aide, Jake Sullivan, wrote, demonstrated Mrs. Clinton’s “leadership/ownership/stewardship of this country’s Libya policy from start to finish.” The memo’s language put her at the center of everything: “HRC announces … HRC directs … HRC travels … HRC engages,” it read.

Hillary Clinton had wrecked Libya and was using it to run for office.

“The president was like, ‘We are not looking to do another Iraq,’” said Derek Chollet, then handling Libya for the National Security Council.

Too late.

Still, in her last months at the State Department, Mrs. Clinton rode a wave of popularity, bolstered by an Internet meme called “Texts From Hillary.” Its emblem was a photograph of the secretary of state gazing through dark glasses at her BlackBerry. Few knew that it had been taken aboard the military transport plane taking her to Libya in those heady days after the dictator’s fall.


Confirmed: Obama Sent Weapons to Muslim Terrorists in Benghazi

One of the few interesting items in the New York Times’ whitewash of Hillary and Obama’s illegal Libyan war is the confirmation of weapons shipments.

Obama ultimately took her side, according to the administration officials who described the debate. After he signed a secret document called a presidential finding, approving a covert operation, a list of approved weaponry was drawn up. The shipments arranged by the United States and other Western countries generally arrived through the port of Benghazi and airports in eastern Libya, a Libyan rebel commander said.

“Humvees, counterbattery radar, TOW missiles was the highest end we talked about,” one State Department official recalled. “We were definitely giving them lethal assistance. We’d crossed that line.”

The story blames the problem on Qatar aiding Jihadists and Obama’s unwillingness to defy the terror oil state. But the claim that we had to arm terrorists to fight Qatar’s arming of terrorists doesn’t hold up too well. Furthermore we already know that US forces were told to turn a blind eye to Qatar’s weapons shipments. We could have blocked them instead.

The story mentions a competition between Qatar and the UAE over arming the locals, but fails to clarify that Qatar was arming straight Jihadists, while the UAE had taken an anti-Islamist line.

It also fails to clarify that Qatar was backing the Muslim Brotherhood. Just like Hillary and Obama.

US airstrike targets Islamic State operative, training camp in Libya

The Sabratha municipal council released several photos, including this one, purportedly showing the aftermath of today’s airsrike. Source: Libya Al Hurra TV.

The Sabratha municipal council released several photos, including this one, purportedly showing the aftermath of today’s airsrike. Source: Libya Al Hurra TV.

Long War Journal, by Thomas Joscelyn, Feb.19, 2016:

The US military launched an airstrike in Libya earlier today targeting an Islamic State “training camp near Sabratha” and a jihadist named Noureddine Chouchane, according to the Pentagon. Chouchane, a Tunisian who is also known as “Sabir,” is a “senior facilitator” for the Islamic State in Libya and “associated with the training camp.”

The Tunisian government has “named Chouchane as a suspect in the March 18, 2015, deadly attack on the Bardo Museum in Tunis.” More than 20 people, mostly foreign tourists, were killed in the assault on the Bardo Museum. There has been some confusion over who was responsible for the massacre. The Islamic State quickly claimed credit, but Tunisian authorities blamed members of the Uqba bin Nafi Battalion, which is part of al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).

If Chouchane was involved in the Bardo killings, then his role is further evidence of the Islamic State’s culpability. Chouchane may have also played a part in the July 2015 shooting spree at a beach in Sousse, Tunisia.

The Pentagon says Chouchane has “facilitated the movement of potential” Islamic State-affiliated “foreign fighters from Tunisia to Libya and onward to other countries.”

The Defense Department also suggests that Chouchane could “potentially” be involved in “planning external attacks on” American “interests in the region,” in addition to recruiting new members for Abu Bakr al Baghdadi’s global operation and “establishing bases in Libya.”

According to officials contacted by The Long War Journal, the US government has become increasingly concerned about the Islamic State’s ability to plot attacks in the West and against American interests from its base of operations on the Mediterranean coast. It is possible that Chouchane was involved in such plotting, but that has not been confirmed.

Initial reports in the aftermath of the bombing say that dozens of people were killed. The identities of those killed have not yet been verified.

The US has targeted senior leaders of both the Islamic State and al Qaeda inside Libya on several occasions since the fall of Muammar al Qaddafi’s regime in 2011.

On Nov. 13, 2015, the US killed Wissam Najm Abd Zayd al Zubaydi, also known as Abu Nabil al Anbari, in an airstrike. Zubaydi, an Iraqi national, “was a longtime al Qaeda operative and the senior ISIL [Islamic State] leader in Libya,” according to a statement by the US military. He is thought to have served as the lead executioner in the February 2015 massacre of Coptic Christians on the Libyan coast, although there is some uncertainty concerning his putative role in the murders.

The Islamic State’s so-called Libyan “province” launched an offensive in early January named after “Sheikh Abdul Mugirah al Qahtani,” which is likely one of Zubaydi’s several aliases. The operations targeted oil facilities and towns in northern Libya. [See LWJ report, Islamic State’s Libyan ‘province’ launches new offensive.]

In mid-June 2015, the US bombed a location in Libya where Mokhtar Belmokhtar, a veteran al Qaeda operative, was suspected of meeting with other jihadists. Months later, according to The Washington Post, US officials are still not certain of Belmokhtar’s fate.

Al Qaeda has, for the most part, acted as if Belmokhtar survived. Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) issued a statement saying Belmokhtar is “alive and well.” Al Murabitoon, another al Qaeda group operating in North and West Africa at the time, also denied that he had perished and released a statement in August 2015 naming Belmokhtar as its overall emir, or leader. In December 2015, Ibrahim al Qosi, an ex-Guantanamo detainee who is now an Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) leader,referred to Belmokhtar as if he is still alive and praised him for bringing Al Murabitoon and AQIM together in a merger.

These statements are not definitive, however, and the jihadists have not released a proof of life audio or video message from Belmokhtar himself.

American troops captured Abu Anas al Libi, who was wanted for his role in the 1998 US Embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania and suspected of leading al Qaeda’s network in Libya, during a raid in October 2013. Al Libi subsequently died in US custody as he was awaiting trial.

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


ISIS Leader Moves to Libya

Shishani as a Georgian special forces soldier and as an ISIS leader.

Shishani as a Georgian special forces soldier and as an ISIS leader.

by Pete Hoekstra
IPT News
February 16, 2016

The barbaric and elusive Chechen commander who recruited British executioner “Jihadi John” has moved to Sirte, Libya to assume control of ISIS operations in the terrorist organization’s metastasizing Mediterranean caliphate.

The Investigative Project on Terrorism first learned about the movement of Abu Omar al-Shishani – among the world’s most-wanted terrorists – through its exclusive Middle East sources. Other news organizations later confirmed the account.

Al-Shishani is a former American-trained officer in the Georgian special forces. He developed a reputation for his ferocity and effectiveness while fighting against the Russians during the 2008 invasion of Georgia and later for ISIS against dictator Bashar al-Assad in Syria.

He established his presence not long after arriving in former dictator Muammar Gaddafi’s hometown Sirte by ordering one execution and chopping the limbs off another individual.

Western intelligence officials believe that up to 6,500 ISIS fighters – twice the number previously thought – have relocated to Libya as a result of coalition airstrikes on ISIS in the Middle East and new difficulties entering Syria.

Libya’s emergence as an ideal location in which to foster its new caliphate arose after NATO assisted radical jihadists in killing Gaddafi in 2011 and abruptly abandoned the country. Left in its wake were two rival governments competing for power, which created space for Islamists to turn Libya into a cesspool of extremism.

ISIS’s new caliphate along the Mediterranean coastline reaches as close as 200 miles from the vulnerable southern border of Europe. It exploits Libya as a base to export weapons, jihadists and ideology to Europe, Africa and the Middle East.

Benghazi and Derna have long been nests of radicalism. They provided more fighters per capita to Afghanistan and Iraq than nearly any other geographic area in the world. The difference between then and now is that Gaddafi kept the lid on the garbage can.

With al-Shishani hanging his hat in Sirte, Libya has become a safe haven for one of the most murderous leaders in the world today. The situation demonstrates the total failure of a Western foreign policy that “leads from behind.”

Pete Hoekstra is the Shillman Senior Fellow at the Investigative Project on Terrorismand the former Chairman of the U.S. House Intelligence Committee. He is the author of “Architects of Disaster: The Destruction of Libya.”