- GOP: Environmental rules keeping agents from accessing border
- John Kerry: Millions displaced by religious fighting in 2013
- Federal appeals court rules against Virginia’s same-sex marriage ban
- White House says Russia ‘losing’ war in Ukraine
- Hamas turns to North Korea for weapons deal, Iran for money
- Syrian casualties surge as jihadis consolidate
- U.N. rights chief: Flight MH17 downing possible war crime
- Attack on park in Gaza war kills 10, mostly children
- Calif. protesters to block Israel-owned ships at Port of Oakland
- Obama to give Africa $38M, but tells young leaders: Stop ‘making excuses’ for economy
Ambassador Stevens warned of Islamic extremism before Benghazi consulate attack
Question of the Day
In a diplomatic cable in June, the U.S. ambassador to Libya cited the rise of “Islamic extremism” and displays of “the Al-Qaeda flag” over buildings outside the city of Benghazi, where he and three other Americans would be killed in a terrorist attack on Sept. 11.
The previously classified cable is among 166 documents made public Friday by Rep. Darrell E. Issa, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, who says they expose an egregious security shortage at U.S. diplomatic missions in Libya in the months before the attack.
Rep. Elijah E. Cummings of Maryland, the committee’s ranking Democrat, criticized the Issa letter as an “undeniably partisan” attempt to politicize the incident before Monday’s presidential debate on foreign policy between President Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney.
The documents include a June 25 cable in which Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens cited an uptick in attacks in Libya “targeting international organizations and foreign interests.” He noted an attack that month on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, where a homemade bomb ripped a hole in a security wall.
That little-reported attack took place just three months before the military-style assault that killed Stevens. In his cable, he said “an Islamic extremist group, ‘the Imprisoned Sheikh Omar Abdul-Rahman Brigade’” claimed responsibility for the bombing.
The so-called “Blind Sheikh,” Abdel-Rahman is serving a life sentence in the U.S. for plotting to blow up the U.N. headquarters, major bridges and tunnels in New York.
Stevens made no reference of any American attempt to investigate the June attack.
“Libyan security officials purport to have launched investigations,” he wrote, adding that a Libyan security official had “shared his private opinion that the attacks were the work of extremists who are opposed to Western influence in Libya.”
“A number of local contacts agreed, noting that Islamic extremism appears to be on the rise in eastern Libya and that the Al-Qaeda flag has been spotted several times flying over government buildings and training facilities” about 100 miles east of Benghazi, Stevens wrote.
He added, however, that other contacts said the June attack also could have been the work of loyalists to ousted Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi.
Other cables cited ongoing concerns about security.
On Sept. 11, just hours before he was killed, Stevens noted that a local Libyan commander in Benghazi had “expressed growing frustration with police and security forces (who were too weak to keep the country secure) …”
Other documents shed light on exchanges between State Department personnel over security.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Guy Taylor is the National Security Team Leader at The Washington Times, overseeing the paper’s State Department, Pentagon and intelligence community coverage. He’s also a frequent guest on The McLaughlin Group and C-SPAN.
His series on political, economic and security developments in Mexico won a 2012 Virginia Press Association award.
Prior to rejoining The Times in 2011, his work was ...
- U.S. intelligence nearly certain pro-Russian separatists downed Malaysian Airlines flight
- Israel's ambassador praises Obama, slams Human Rights Watch report
- U.S. scrambles as violence escalates in Israel-Hamas conflict
- MH17: Fear of ground-to-air missile strike becomes nightmare reality in Ukraine
- U.S., China to participate in unprecedented joint ground force exercise
Latest Blog Entries
TWT Video Picks
By Mark Davis
The nation founders, the Lone Star State thrives
- Hillary Clinton: Forget Obama, George W. Bush made her 'proud to be an American'
- Illegal immigrants demand representation in White House meetings
- D.C. police chief orders officers not to arrest legal gun owners carrying weapons in public
- Tennessee Gov. Haslam slams White House for secret dump of illegals in his state
- CURL: Obama, staffers not even pretending any more
- Family of Marine killed in Afghanistan pushes back against cover-up
- 'Pocket drones': U.S. Army developing tiny spies for the next big war
- DeSean Jackson working on offensive cohesiveness with Redskins teammates
- Washington Times strikes content and marketing partnership with Redskins
- D.C. seeks stay in order striking down ban on handguns in public
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world
Fighting in Iraq