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EDITORIAL: Obama’s intelligence failure
Everyone knew attacks were coming but the White House
Question of the Day
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice is gamely trying to toe the administration line on the attacks on U.S. diplomats in Benghazi and Cairo that left four dead including U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens. On Sunday, she said the attacks were “spontaneous – not a premeditated” and “in reaction to this very offensive video that was disseminated.” White House spokesman Jay Carney earlier claimed the attacks were not directed at the United States and cannot be read as an indictment of Obama administration policies.
In fact, the attacks in Benghazi and Cairo were the result of massive intelligence failure at the top levels of government. There were many indications that extremists were targeting U.S. diplomats in Libya and Egypt months before this year’s Sept. 11 attacks. These deadly plans had nothing to do with a low-budget, anti-Islamic film. The Obama administration simply failed to connect the dots.
Ambassador Christopher Stevens had been targeted in Benghazi before. On June 6, a jihadist group called the “Brigades of the Imprisoned Sheikh Omar Abdul Rahman” set off a bomb on the consulate perimeter, wounding one. The attack coincided with Mr. Stevens’ first trip to the country as ambassador – he had arrived May 26 – and he was the likely target of the attack, though when the bomb went off he was not nearby. According to the SITE monitoring group, the Rahman Brigades said they were “targeting a group of ‘Christian overseers’ who were preparing to receive one of the ‘heads of instigation’ from the State Department.” They were seeking to avenge the death of senior Al-Qaeda leader Abu Yahya al-Libi, who was killed in a U.S. drone strike. Even though the attack failed, the jihadists knew the ambassador was coming.
The Rahman Brigades is named for the “Blind Sheikh,” mastermind of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, who is currently serving a life sentence in the United States. His name runs like a current through both the events in Libya and Egypt, and his imprisonment is a much more important instigating factor in the violence than the scape-goat video the Obama administration has fixated on.
In Benghazi five days after the initial June bombing, the same group attacked a car carrying British Ambassador to Libya Dominic Asquith with rocket-propelled grenades, injuring two. The United Nations special envoy to Libya was also targeted. These strikes were clearly pre-planned. The Rahman Brigades also mounted several attacks on the offices of the International Committee of the Red Cross, forcing the ICRC to suspend its operations in eastern Libya. On Aug. 11, General Mohammed Hadia, a senior military official in the new Libyan government, was gunned down in the city. On Sept. 2, a Libyan intelligence officer was killed and another wounded in a car-bombing attack in Benghazi. Three days before last week’s attack that took four American lives, Benghazi security official Jamal Mabrouk warned U.S. diplomats that the situation there was not safe.
These are only a few of the numerous violent acts that were being carried out in Benghazi prior to the Sept. 11, 2012 uprising. All are based on open-source information, and presumably the U.S. intelligence community had even more details. Mrs. Rice said the level of security afforded an ambassador “depends on the circumstances,” but in Benghazi the circumstances were dire. Any reasonable person would conclude that city was a dangerous place, that U.S. interests were being targeted, that extremists groups affiliated with al Qaeda were involved and they knew exactly what they were doing.
In Cairo, there were also reasons to believe there were endemic threats unrelated to the film. Again, the name that keeps popping up is Sheikh Omar Abdul Rahman. There had been a sit-in in support of the “Blind Sheikh” outside the embassy for 18 months. On July 27, the sheikh’s son Abdallah Abdel Rahman threatened to organize a blockade of the embassy and to detain the Americans inside unless his father was released. Two days later, then-president-elect Mohammed Morsi vowed publicly to work to free the sheikh, and it will be at the top of his agenda in future meetings with President Obama.
The build-up to the embassy breach ran like clockwork. On Aug. 30, Jamaa Islamiya, the terrorist group formerly led by the Blind Sheikh, announced that the embassy sit-in was being turned into an active protest. On Sept. 4, the Egyptian General Intelligence Service warned all Egyptian security agencies of planned attacks against the embassy by a group called Global Jihad, which has been active in the Sinai.
On Sept. 7, an Islamist named Nasser Al-Qaeda posted a statement on the Jihadi chat group Shumoukh Al-Islam that the U.S. embassy in Cairo should be burned down and everyone inside killed or taken hostage in order to bring pressure to bear to release the Blind Sheikh. On the day before the embassy assault, several other jihadist groups with ties to al Qaeda – including Islamic Jihad, the Sunni Group and Jamaa Islamiya – echoed this threat and called for the release of the Blind Sheikh and all detainees in all U.S. detention facilities including Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. None of these groups made mention of the allegedly offending film.
The takeaway from this timeline is that the Obama administration was blind to the growing threats. The State Department has admitted as much. On Sept. 6, the Bureau of Diplomatic Security Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC) website announced it had “no credible information to suggest that al Qaeda or any other terrorist group is plotting any kind of attack overseas to coincide with the upcoming anniversary of Sept. 11.” This announcement was taken down after the recent attacks took place. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton must explain why this part of the historical record was removed and what other incriminating documents have been deleted or destroyed.
The White House and the liberal media want to keep attention focused on the film as a pretext for the violence to argue that the protests were spontaneous and not directed at administration policy. Yet substantial evidence exists to fatally compromise this self-serving narrative. The crisis was building all along, but the White House simply refused to see it. Mr. Obama’s soft spot for Islam became a blind spot for American security.
The Washington Times
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
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