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Al Qaeda operatives unleashed in Benghazi attack: Report

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U.S. investigators believe several members of al Qaeda's Yemeni branch took part in last year's Sept. 11 terror attack on a U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya — and may have been deployed specifically for the undertaking.

CNN reported a senior federal law enforcement official said "three or four members of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula," as the Yemeni branch is called, took part in the attack, which killed Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, State Department officer Sean Smith, and former Navy SEALs Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty.

The news came after the FBI released pictures of three suspicious men they would like to identify as part of their ongoing probe into the attack. The grainy images of the men came from the extensive surveillance camera footage of the attack.

"We are just seeking information about them at this point," an FBI official told The Washington Times this week.

CNN said it did not know whether any of the three pictures showed the al Qaeda suspects.

Another anonymous source briefed on the investigation told CNN that Western intelligence services suspect the men may have been sent by the group specifically to help carry out the attack.

"But it has not been ruled out that they were already in the city and participated as the opportunity arose," the network added.

Among the article's authors is President George W. Bush's homeland security advisor Fran Townsend, now a consultant to CNN and a frequent on-air contributor.

If the men were sent especially to Benghazi, it would suggest a degree of cooperation and planning for the attack — which was initially and erroneously characterized by Obama administration officials as growing out of a protest against a U.S. made anti-Islam video which maligned the Muslim Prophet Mohammed.

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About the Author
Shaun Waterman

Shaun Waterman

Shaun Waterman is an award-winning reporter for The Washington Times, covering foreign affairs, defense and cybersecurity. He was a senior editor and correspondent for United Press International for nearly a decade, and has covered the Department of Homeland Security since 2003. His reporting on the Sept. 11 Commission and the tortuous process by which some of its recommendations finally became ...

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