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Tuesday, August 22, 2017

New York (AFP) – Al-Qaeda had no direct involvement in the attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi that left four Americans dead on September 11 last year, The New York Times reported Saturday.

In an investigation published on its website and based on extensive reporting in the Libyan city, the Times said the killing of U.S. ambassador Chris Stevens and three of his countrymen was the work of local fighters.

The report could likely stir up controversy in Washington, where the Obama administration has repeatedly been accused of covering up what happened in Benghazi — a charge it denies.

The newspaper also said the attack may indeed have been sparked by citizens who headed to the U.S. mission after being angered by an anti-Islamic video that had aired on local television channels.

Based on interviews with Libyans in Benghazi that the Times said had direct knowledge of the attack, the newspaper “turned up no evidence that Al-Qaeda or other international groups had any role in the assault,” it said.

“The attack was led, instead by fighters who had benefited directly from NATO’s extensive air power and logistics during the uprising,” against the country’s long-time dictator Muammar Gaddafi, killed in October 2011.

The newspaper, citing American officials briefed on a criminal probe into the killings, alleged that a local rebel leader named Ahmed Abu Khattala, said to have disdain for the United States despite its help to overthrow Gaddafi, is the prime suspect for orchestrating the Benghazi killings.

The Times report placed him at the U.S. mission at the time of the attack and in an interview with the newspaper he said he was indeed present, but denied he was responsible.

“Mr Abu Khattala declared openly and often that he placed the United States not far behind Colonel Kadhafi on his list of infidel enemies,” the newspaper said.

“But he had no known affiliations with terrorist groups, and he had escaped scrutiny from the 20-person CIA station in Benghazi that was set up to monitor the local situation,” the report added.

The Times said Abu Khattala was “a central figure” in what unfolded, citing numerous Libyans present at the time, but also reported that the attack had “spontaneous elements.”

Initially, the sacking of the mission was described by American officials as having been sparked by the anti-Muslim video “Innocence of Muslims,” which triggered protests across the Arab world.

But U.S. officials later said that some of those behind the assault had links to organized Al-Qaeda extremists and that it was an act of terrorism.

The Times on Saturday reported: “Anger at the video motivated the initial attack. Dozens of people joined in, some of them provoked by the video and others responding to fast-spreading false rumors that guards inside the American compound had shot Libyan protesters.”

AFP Photo/Gianluigi Guercia

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7 Responses to Report: Benghazi Attack Not Work Of Al-Qaeda

  1. Perhaps someone on Issa’s committee will grow a pair and request an investigation of the chairman who, at the least, is guilty speaking before he had adequate information, the same offense he accused Susan Rice of doing. At the worst, he is guilty of trying to undermine a democratically-elected AMERICAN government.

  2. This should ring a bell in the heads of John McCain and Lindsey Graham who pushed this administration to help liberate Libya. Once you have armed militia roaming around and no strong central government it is time to close the embassy and conduct business from a navy ship parked in the harbor. At least with a ship you have the capability to fight back. These two Neo cons desperately wanted us to involve ourselves in Syria’s civil war. Same situation, militias with guns and no central authority on the rebels side. Brings to mind our equipping of the mujahedeen in the Afghan-Russian war. Once we left there were enough weapons to start a prolonged civil war that led to a Taliban takeover for stability. We don’t belong in any conflict on the ground in any civil war. You would think people like McCain learned that in Viet Nam.

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