Yes, Al-Qaeda ‘Infiltrated’ Libya


ben4The New York Times’ conclusion that Al-Qaeda was not involved in last year’s attack on Ambassador Stevens in Libya—or even “infiltrated” Libya to begin with—is an example of a misleading game of semantics. The definition of “enemy” and even “Al-Qaeda” is becoming narrower and narrower, moving us closer to a more comforting (but incomplete) picture of the danger the West faces from Islamism.

The Times writes that an Islamist militia leader named Ahmed Abu Khattala is the almost certain culprit behind the Benghazi attacks, even if he denies it. This fact is used to deny Al-Qaeda’s role, along with the premise that there are two distinctly separate groups named Ansar al-Sharia and the one linked to Al-Qaeda cannot be implicated.

Khattala denies that he and his Obeida Ibn Al-Jarra militia are tied to Al-Qaeda. To the Times, the lack of an operational link is equivalent to no link at all, but the two are connected ideologically. Khattala is openly anti-American and approved of the Benghazi attacks. Both agree in violent retribution for mockery of their faith because of their common Sharia doctrine.

According to the Times’ own previous reporting, an Islamist group named Ansar al-Sharia is suspected of involvement. The Times confirms, “Witnesses at the scene of the attack identified many participants associated with Ansar al-Shariah.

Its leader, Mohammed Ali al-Zahawi, said he disagrees that Western diplomats in Libya are legitimate targets and, “If it had been our attack on the U.S. Consulate, we would have flattened it.”

There are two groups named Ansar al-Sharia in Libya, one in Benghazi that may share responsibility, and one in Derna, led by Sufian bin Qumu.

Qumu was once a driver for a company owned by Osama Bin Laden. He was captured in Pakistan and spent six years in Guantanamo Bay before returning to Derna. His Al-Qaeda links are solid, but the Times reports that his Ansar al-Sharia was uninvolved in the Benghazi attacks.

Thomas Joscelyn persuasively argues that this is not the case. The two have a common name, branding and propaganda publisher. The Times also fails to answer an important question: If the two groups are truly separate, why wouldn’t one avoid the confusion by changing its name?

Even the use of the name “Ansar al-Sharia” is rooted in Al-Qaeda. The name first appeared in Yemen as a front for Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. We know from Osama Bin Laden’s records that were captured in Pakistan that he planned to change Al-Qaeda’s name and wanted affiliates to portray themselves as wholly independent.

A study by the American Federation of Scientists in August 2012, one month before the Benghazi attacks, confirmed that Al-Qaeda had a “core network” in Libya “but it remains clandestine and refrains from using the Al-Qaeda name.” It predicts that Al-Qaeda will continue to “mask its presence under the umbrella of the Libyan Salafist movement.”

One strange omission from the Times’ reporting is Muhammad Jamal al-Kashef and his Egyptian network. It is considered a terrorist entity by the U.S. government because of its very close links to Al-Qaeda. Al-Kashef is close to Ayman al-Zawahiri, the chief of Al-Qaeda. The newspaper reported in October 2012 that members of Al-Kashef’s network were believed to have taken part in the Benghazi attacks.

Another centerpiece of the New York Times series is that Al-Qaeda was not involved in the Benghazi attacks because it simply wasn’t there. Yet, NATO’s commander said in March 2011 that there were “flickers” of Al-Qaeda among the Libyan rebels, more than a year before the Benghazi attacks. A Libyan militia chief even said he had Al-Qaeda-linked fighters among his men.

By November 2011, the Al-Qaeda flag was being raised in Benghazi. At around the same time, Zawahiri was dispatching experienced operatives to Libya. One was previously arrested in the United Kingdom and entered Libya in May of 2011. He reportedly oversaw about 200 fighters.

The Times points to a letter sent by a leader of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb shortly after the Benghazi attacks as proof that the group did not establish a significant presence in Libya.

The letter explained that it had sent four teams to the country, but only two arrived and only began to “lay the first practical bricks.” It also listed attacks carried out by Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and no attacks in Libya were mentioned.

Again, Al-Qaeda is misunderstood. Multiple affiliates, some more closely connected to the central leadership than others, simultaneously exploit opportunities. Where one fails, another may succeed.

At the very least, Al-Qaeda had supporters in Libya who would be willing to engage in terrorism. They may not have Al-Qaeda membership cards or communicate with the central leadership, but they are still Al-Qaeda ideologically.

This same kind of thinking was seen in President Obama’s May 2013 speech at the National Defense University where he said, “Groups like AQAP must be dealt with, but in the years to come, not every collection of thugs that labels themselves al-Qaeda will pose a credible threat to the United States.”

The argument about what constitutes “Al-Qaeda” is, to a degree, a distraction. The bottom line is that Khattala, Al-Qaeda, Ansar al-Sharia and every other Islamist is devoted to implementing Sharia. They are all jihadists. They are all motivated by the same doctrine and they all have the same goals.

The New York Times series gives the impression that some in the West have an exaggerated view of Al-Qaeda and conflate it with other groups that do not pose serious threats. The real misconception is that one jihadist can be considered separate from another jihadist.

 The Institute on Religion and Democracy contributed to this article.

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  • alericKong

    “flickers” of Al-Qaeda

    Tell whoever wrote this to go back to his keyboard. They have absolutely no place in forming strategy which commands other soldiers.

    Pretty soon, just like with black violence, the citizens will have to deal with militarily trained terrorists themselves.

  • truebearing

    The Times is working hard to complicate the Benghazi mess so that the average person is too confused to hold Hillary responsible for the deaths of an American ambassador and those who defended him. They want to split hairs over which group was affiliated with Al Queda because they know that the administration never utilized our intelligence to establish the truth, which conveniently leaves Benghazi open to obfuscation.

    Now would be a good time for Egypt’s military to use its considerable expertise in extracting information on some of those Muslim Brotherhood operatives who do know who was involved in Benghazi. Just leak the info to Israel, or directly to Obama’s opponents here. That should make the task of cleaning things up for Hillary insuperable.

    • Drakken

      Brilliant strategy! Trust me when I tell you that there are some intelligence folks who know where all the bodies are buried and what their end game may be is still a crap shoot.

      • truebearing

        I’m hoping they are planning some payback, in a big and devastating way.

    • A Z

      I like this post from 11bravoto this story at the Daily Caller

      11bravo • 3 days ago

      “Ansar Al Sharia, Al Shabazz, Islamic Jihad, Muslim Brotherhood, PLO, Boko Harem, Al Qaida – it is a difference with no distinction other than geography. It is all Islamic jihad. There is no serious ideological, or strategic difference in these groups.

      *** Everyone knows that. ***

      *** Also, if the attack did not involve Al Qaida directly, what facts on the ground does that change? ***

      Does it mean Hillary didn’t even know the attack was underway, Obama, Panetta, Patraues, Clapper, Donolin? What did these people know – when did they know it, and what did they do about it. Who did they talk to? Who made, and what was the ultimate decision as to a response, rescue?
      Who were Axelstache, Pluth, Dan who-ever and Obama’s other political people talking to in real time while this was happening?
      You know the NSA has al the e-communications from that day. We could know exactly what went on if it ere pushed. That would be my first task as the new GOP President in 2017.”

      Ex-CIA analyst calls NYT Benghazi article ‘an effort to revive discredited theory’ of anti-Islam video

      http://dailycaller.com/2013/12/28/ex-cia-analyst-nyt-benghazi-article-an-effort-to-revive-discredited-theory-of-anti-islam-video/

      • truebearing

        Hillary’s “what difference does it make” is the perfect question for the NY Times. All Muslim jihadists are Muslims. One way or another, they are all intent on killing us. So why did Obama and Hillary refuse to send more security or rescuers once the attack was underway? That is a question they can’t answer, so we’ll keep asking it.

        • A Z

          Terrorists hiding under different group names is analogous to a common criminal giving aliases. It frustrates identification and prosecution for all crimes they might have commit.

          And Leftists are out there shouting fool us, fool us I do not want to know the truth.

  • Mach1Duck

    To highlight this misinformation, In talking to my grandson, a graduating HS senior this year, he was the only one in his class that had any knowledge about the Arab Spring. He stated that the rest of the students had no idea what the topic even was about. Says a lot about our educational system.

  • Lanna

    What was the urgency of Steven’s last official act, an evening meeting with the Turkish Consul general? Were the special mission facility and nearby CIA annex involved in a covert operation to collect small arms, surface to air missiles, or other weapons? Were any of those weapons secretly made available…directly, or indirectly to the Syrian Opposition, a group known to include AlQaeda? Why was Stevens at that Facility after he had complained about how dangerously insecure it was, especially on Sept 11? We all know the truth of the mission now!

  • Mur

    What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
    By any other name would smell as sweet;

    • Eddie

      Al Qaeda in Arabic translates into “the base”. It is a muslim-brotherhood off-spring with strong links to each other. Same goal, different roles and tactics to implement a common mission.

      • justquitnow

        Then what difference does it make whether “Al Qaeda” was taken out of the talking points or not? It matters because Republicans said it mattered and held hearing after hearing to unearth the conspiracy of the talking points. Did they take out the reference to “Al Qaeda” to help President Obama?

        Well…no, that’s pretty clear now how it all came about. We know exhaustively because such a big stink was made over this little detail. Now it doesn’t matter…it’s on to something else.

  • justquitnow

    The Times report was not just about the use of the name “Al-Qaeda”. It’s just that tidbit popped out for everyone since FPM and every other cult mouthpiece was claiming that the removal of “Al-Qaeda” from Susan Rice’s talking points was proof of something. I guess that claim is too old to remember, since it’s been over a year of this. Now it’s…what is the point now? That the NYT is full of it, but the Clarion Project is a real straight shooter?

    • A Z

      It is the whole ball of wax. The Obama administration screwed the pooch from beginning to end.

      The Regime had a quick reaction force that could have been there in an hour or tow.

      This was no mob. Envelopment , flanking attacks, mortar fire.

      Most mobs don’t have mortar fire. Now certain leftists mobs do have mortars and have used them in demonstrations. So far those have been homemade affairs. So I can see where Rice and Hillary would be
      ‘confusticated’ thinking this was your average protest, because their people (the left) uses mortars during demonstrations.

      • justquitnow

        OK…that’s totally against all the information that has come out but whatever…I can see this is one that you’ll never let go.

        • A Z

          1.) You don’t dispute there was mortar fire.
          2.) You don’t dispute that mortar are not the usually things to bring to a unplanned demonstration

          You just dispute because you have nothing.

          • justquitnow

            I don’t understand. Who is saying there wasn’t an attack? Who is saying they weren’t terrorists? There are plenty of details that you can gish gallop all over me. Like I said you will never be satisfied. You have some “facts” you got from god knows where and you will NEVER, EVER, EVER let go of them. Even if you were teleported back in time to witness the events from an omnipotent perspective and it all unfolded like the NYT says it did, you will still persist. The ONLY reason such a big deal is made over the semantics involved is because Republicans threw a deliberate hissy fit about words in talking points following the attacks. Now you guys are like “whats the name Al-Qaeda” have to do with it? Americans died you know?

            Obama is lucky to have all you concerned citizens pouring over the facts of embassy attacks. Poor Bush and co, when embassies were attacked and people killed on their watch…many times…they lacked this tinfoil hat brigade to come along and make sure they were doing everything just right.

            And you need to relax…how many posts did you put up? For heaven’s sake stay in the thread.

          • A Z

            “You have some “facts” you got from god knows where ”

            I linked some news sources/outlets. It is up to us and 3rd parties to decide if they are good ones.

            “you will NEVER, EVER, EVER let go of them. ”

            You do not let go of the truth.

            “omnipotent perspective”
            From what I understand this is feasible. I just do not know how much it costs. Although there may not be a God, some archaeologist in the future could see you no matter where you are. So you may want to be dignified and just. You and the NYT can lie all you want and write as many drafts of history that you want. It will always be possible to uncover the truth.

            Some of us like Drakken and I have served in the military, so don’t try to blow smoke up our _ss.

            The point is that Americans were under attack by terrorists, Democrat politicians had the means to rescue them or minimize casualties and they did not.

            You may like the Tennyson poem “Charge of the Light Brigade” with “It is yours to do and die not to question why”, but that is not how it works in real life.

            IRL service member know they may die. They accept that fact. Their though is that if the their Commander has to expend their to get the job done they understand it. But it is use their lives don’t misuse or waste them. Obama wasted them.

            “Use them if you must but do not waste them”

            Big big difference than Tennyson’s poem.

          • justquitnow

            “The point is that Americans were under attack by terrorists, Democrat politicians had the means to rescue them or minimize casualties and they did not.”

            Again, that is propaganda and doesn’t fit with all the available information. It’s not even an opinion since you want to have it so bad…it’s more like a wish. In your dreams, Obama is a failure…he had a chance to save those people but wimped out for no good reason. There is no information that I or anyone can provide to you that will get that out of your head, it was there before this incident and you will take it to your grave.

          • A Z

            Yes it does. The calvary was at Sigonella, Italy, which is not that far away.

            Unless your Commander in Chief is Obama and then it might as well be as far as Andromeda.

        • A Z

          Looking at your recent posts I have a few comments

          You know what hair conditioner is right? I know, I am keeping it simple with simple but trenchant examples but you are an IGNORAMUS*. You also have to condition electrical power or bad thing happen. Try taking some electrical engineering courses or do some of the work of an electrician. I means for God’s sake or FFS just try it. Learn something.

          Also something like solar panels is not a one time capital investment. No capital investment is a one time thing. Upkeep is constant. If it is well engineered it might be lower cost but there is a constant flow of money for upkeep,

          * IGNORAMUS : an utterly ignorant person

        • A Z

          “Between 125 and 150 gunmen, “some wearing the Afghan-style tunics favored by Islamic militants,” are reported to have participated in the assault.[54][55][56] Some had their faces covered and wore flak jackets.[57] Weapons they used during the attack included rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs), hand grenades, AK-47 and FN F2000 NATO assault rifles, diesel canisters, mortars, and heavy machine guns and artillery mounted on gun trucks” – wiki

          This is the equipment that is typically brought to a spontaneous demonstration.

          Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha

          Ho ho ho ho ho ho ho ho ho ho ho ho ho ho ho

          Hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee

        • A Z

          “He found where the mortar fire was coming from. He painted it with his laser. Now, folks, talk to anybody in the military. There’s only one reason you do that. He was painting where that mortar fire was coming from because he figured there was air support that was then gonna take that mortar location out. That’s why he was lasering it. He was effectively lighting it up.”

          http://www.rushlimbaugh.com/daily/2012/10/29/latest_on_benghazi_tyrone_woods_painted_a_target_but_the_missile_never_came

          “Just Quit Now” I have advice for you. Just quit now before you dig yourself a deeper hole with lies.

        • A Z

          “The fighting at the CIA annex went on for more than four hours — enough time for any planes based in Sigonella Air base, just 480 miles away, to arrive”

          480 miles with aircraft that could have got reinforcement there in an hour might have been stationed in the Andromeda Galaxy with a Democrat as Commander in Chief

          http://beforeitsnews.com/tea-party/2012/10/cia-in-benghazi-during-consulate-attack-denied-3-help-cia-special-response-team-were-order-to-stand-down-2462172.html

      • defcon 4

        BUt you can buy 81mm mortar tubes and ammo at any Walmart right?

        • A Z

          JustQuitNow certainly believes that.

          It is not a false dichotomy to say mortars are readily available and it is not unusual for a mob to have them or the attack at Ben Ghazi was planned well ahead of the event and was not spurred by the video.

          Heck any Anonymous Hacker could have looked at the history of views of the video and seen that there was no traffic.

        • A Z

          I know mortars were use but not the type.

          Where is that information found?

          I assume to dead former Spec Ops guy was painting a team with heavy weapons.

  • American1969

    As usual, the NYT misses the point. Who cares whether it was al-Qeada directly or a group affiliated with them, it still doesn’t explain what the Ambassador was doing there with inadequate security or why they were not rescued that night. It doesn’t explain the lying for weeks afterward, either.
    This isn’t going away, no matter how much the Left would like it to.

    HILLARY LIED. FOUR DIED.
    REMEMBER THE BENGHAZI FOUR.

  • James Foard
  • slhancock

    And the Morsi people who were sent to Benghazi and participated that night? They were both MB and AQ. Just because one person was told that AQ was not there, doesn’t mean anything. Besides, why did the Times wait so long to bring forth THIS info? 15 months after the event? If they were there that night, it seems that when Rice was being raked over the coals for her testimony that it was the movie, that these people would’ve stepped up to set the record straight right then. Does it take that long to edit tapes?

    • justquitnow

      The reasoning behind taking “Al Qaeda” out of the talking points was made clear again and again in hearing testimony. Rice was raked over the coals because they could.

  • joshuasweet

    I still want to know why the weapons and funds negotiated for were still delivered after the incident?

  • defcon 4

    Judaism and Christianity found hospitals to cure the sick and ameliorate suffering. Muslimes found terrorist organisations. How many terrorist organisations? A dozen? Or more?

  • defcon 4

    “the Great Apostasy that will see a billion muslimes chuck islam”? Meanwhile, back on this planet, earth…