Tomorrow will be one year and four months since our American Ambassador and three other American Hero’s perished in the Benghazi Libya terrorist attack. And that’s how long it has taken the most powerful country on the face of the Earth to figure out specifically which militant terrorist groups did it which I find a little embarrassing since the entire population of the Earth has know it pretty much since the day after it happened.
The State Department Friday, for the first time, blamed specific groups and militants for the September 11, 2012 Benghazi attack and designated them as terrorists which further undermines initial claims the attack was spontaneous and also undermines the New York Times extensive and exhaustive on-the-ground investigation they recently reported.
The department announced that it was labeling Ansar al-Sharia in Benghazi and Ansar al-Sharia in Darnah as terror organizations, in part over their role in the Benghazi attack. It applied the same label to Ansar al-Sharia in Tunisia, but that’s over a separate attack on Americans in Tunis. In addition, Sufian bin Qumu, head of the Darnah branch and former Guantanamo Bay detainee, and Ahmed Abu Khattalah, head of the Benghazi branch were being included in the list of labeled terrorists.
Despite previous denials from the State Department that Al Qaeda leadership was involved and a recent news report echoing that assessment, it has been established that bin Qumu does in fact have direct ties to Al Qaeda. According to his Guantanamo file, he has historic ties to the Al Qaeda network, including training at one point at “Usama bin Laden’s Torkham camp.”
The State Department, in its announcement Friday, specifically discussed allegations against the Ansar al-Sharia branches. “Ansar al-Shari’a in Benghazi and Ansar al-Shari’a in Darnah have been involved in terrorist attacks against civilian targets, frequent assassinations and attempted assassinations of security officials and political actors in eastern Libya, and the september 11, 2012 attacks against the U.S. Special Mission and Annex in Benghazi, Libya,” the department said. “Members of both organizations continue to pose a threat to U.S. interests in Libya.”
The department cited Khattalah and bin Qumu over their leadership roles in the al-Sharia organizations. Khattalah, though, has told Fox News back in October 2012 that while he was at the U.S. consulate that night, he was not responsible for the attack. He claimed he was helping Libyan security workers defending the compound.
The State Department announced that it has also updated its Rewards for Justice website to include a reward of up to $10 million for information leading to the arrest or conviction of anyone involved in the Benghazi attack. The department had faced criticism for not including that reward on the website, though officials claimed reward offers had nevertheless been made.
Four Americans died in the 2012 attack and so far, nobody has been brought to justice in connection with the killings or attack.
In a State Department statement which also refers to a 2012 attack on the U.S. Embassy in Tunis says, “The U.S. government is committed to taking all appropriate actions against the organizations and individuals responsible for the attacks against the U.S. diplomatic facilities in Libya and Tunisia.” I’m pleased to hear the United States State Department is finally on board and adopting that policy one year and four months later!