Rather than cracking the mysteries still hanging over the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi on Sept. 11, 2012 and the murder of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three of his aides, the monumental investigative piece run by The New York Times on Dec. 29 (Deadly mix in Benghazi: False allies and a Video) by David D. Kirkpatric, opens a veritable Pandora’s Box of unanswered questions.
Why has the Obama administration to this day refused to come clean to the American public on the motives and background of the attack?
What made Susan Rice, since appointed National Security Advisor, falsely attribute it to the backlash from a video clip insulting the Prophet Mohammed?
And why has no culprit been apprehended to this day?
The missing answers continue to spread harm – not only as a bone of contention in US domestic politics – but to the detriment of the present and future war on terrorism.
In this two-part article, DEBKA Weekly’s intelligence and counterterrorism sources venture to shed light on vital aspects of the Benghazi attack, which Mr. Kirkpatric and the public debate have chosen to avoid.
One such aspect is the direct and indirect complicity, never yet revealed, of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood’s clandestine military and security branches in the attack on the US Consulate, in which four American officials perished.
Another is the extent to which Ambassador Chris Stevens knew his killers. (See the DEBKA Weekly article published on Sept. 28, 2012, shortly after the attack).
Egyptian MB was ready to work with al Qaeda and/or Iran
These two aspects provide the key to the four critical questions raised by the Benghazi attack:
1. Was it the outcome of a policy of operational collaboration on which the Egyptian Brotherhood had embarked with Al Qaeda or Iran’s terrorist machine – or both?
We believe that it was, as we shall demonstrate further below. In any event, this collaboration was sustained and later emerged in Libya, Egypt, the Sinai Peninsula and the Gaza Strip.
2. Was Barack Obama’s outreach to the “moderate Muslim” world, as embodied in his landmark speech at Cairo University in 2009, and his support for the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood’ a serious error of judgment? This support continues in curtailed form up until the present.
3. If so – and if his endorsement of the “Arab Spring” was another policy fiasco – has President Obama reacted by ditching Sunni Islam (in Libya, Egypt and Syria) and thrown his support behind the Shiites (Iran) to vindicate his original Muslim outreach?
If this thinking is behind his administration’s détente with Tehran, this begs a further question.
4. After US losses from the “Arab Spring” (the fallout in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, some of the Gulf emirates and Israel), is the Obama administration due for another setback – say, two years hence – this time from the Shiite camp?
Accused of terror plots in cahoots with Hamas and Hizballah
The relevance of these questions to the 2012 attack on the US consulate in Benghazi is strongly suggested, says DEBKA Weekly, in the Egyptian prosecution’s Dec. 18 indictment of deposed president Mohamed Morsi and 35 other Muslim Brotherhood leaders on charges of espionage and aiding acts of terrorism.
Following a three-year long investigation, Egypt’s prosecutor general is putting Morsi and his top aides on trial for “sharing state secrets with Iran… and spying on Egypt for the Palestinian militant group Hamas and the Lebanese militant organization Hizballah.”
The Brotherhood,” in collaboration with Sunni jihadists trained by Iran’s Shiite government” is alleged to have plotted during the country’s 2011 uprising “to plunge the country into chaos and then seize and keep power.”
The big prison break occurring during that uprising, when Morsi himself was freed, is alleged to have been “facilitated by Hamas and Hizballah fighters working to hasten the MB’s rise to power.”
The prosecution goes on to accuse the Brotherhood and Hamas of involvement in the wave of attacks on Egyptian forces in the Sinai Peninsula, although security analysts attributed this violence to the jihadist Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis which is affiliated to al Qaeda.
When the Benghazi episode is seen against this coalition for terror branching out of Cairo, it looks like the bad fruits of the Obama administration’s quest to remold US relations with the Muslim world.
The MB-led terrorist coalition is still proactive
This selfsame coalition remains proactive up to the present day – say our counterterrorism and intelligence sources. This pervasive menace to the security of the United States, the West as a whole, Russia, Egypt, Israel and Middle East stability, is run by four lead players:
Iran: Revolutionary Guards Al Qods Brigades commander Gen. Qassem Soleimani’s hand is at the helm of the smuggling networks that keep arms, drugs and terrorist fighters moving across the Middle East from the Persian Gulf through Sudan, Sinai, Jordan, Iraq and Syria. This traffic keeps the wheels of the jihadist terrorist movement rolling. The Lebanese Hizballah is his right-hand lieutenant.
Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood: When Hosni Mubarak was still president, the MB nurtured the Palestinian Hamas in the Gaza Strip and kept an eye on the Sinai wastelands for a rainy day. They were kept ready in case the movement needed a clandestine army and a desolate place free of government oversight to keep it afloat.
Its first major operation was the aforementioned jailbreak in January 2011.
This operation was led by Hizballah security chief Wafiq Safa (who is married to the Hassan Nasrallah’s sister), and serves as deputy to the Al Qods general Hossein Mahadavi, who was then Iran’s commander in chief in Lebanon.
Tehran and Hizballah used the mayhem spreading through Cairo from the Tahrir Square revolution to free the Iranian and Hizballah terrorists captured after a chain of terrorist attacks in Cairo and Suez Canal cities in 2009. Hamas terrorists were let out at the same time.
Hamas implicated in the Mansoura attack and 16 deaths
Th US-backed Egyptian revolution found Iran, Hizballah, Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood working toward a common goal, the speeding of Mubarak's overthrow. That collaboration was just the beginning.
Hamas: This radical Palestinian organization which rules the Gaza Strip is the creation and integral arm of the Egyptian Brotherhood. Last month, the military rulers who overthrew the Brotherhood and Morsi, came around to the discovery published by debkafile in the third week of July, 2013: that the head of the MB’s clandestine operational networks, Mahmud Izzat Ibrahim, had made his escape from Cairo in good time to evade arrest and set up his command headquarters at the Gaza Beach Hotel.
From there, he began organizing an uprising against the Egyptian military – not just through Hamas but in league with three armed groups: the Muslim Brotherhood’s underground cells across Egypt; the Bedouin Salafist groups of Sinai operating under al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP); and the Al Qaeda offshoot of eastern Libya, Ansar al Sharia in Derna and Benghazi.
Ansar al-Maqdis or Ansar Jerusalem is not a single group but the fusion of armed Islamist groups deferring to Al Qaeda in Sinai, the Gaza Strip and Egypt.
Ansar Bayt al Maqdis claimed the suicide car bombing of Dec. 25, of police headquarters in the provincial capital of Mansoura which killed 16 officers. It was the deadliest terrorist attack since Morsi’s overthrow last July, since when more than 100 soldiers and police were killed by Sinai militants.
The group said the Mansoura strike was carried out by a suicide bomber identified as “Abu Maryam.” Thursday, Jan. 2, Egyptian Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim accused the Hamas of complicity in the attack. He said there were proofs that Hamas provided the suicide killers with funds, arms and explosives.
MB strongman El-Shater founded Ansar Jerusalem in Sinai
Egyptian and Israeli intelligence are convinced, according to DEBKA Weekly’s sources, that Ansar Jerusalem shares its allegiance between Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood leaders and al Qaeda – not least because its founder was none other than MB strongman Mohammed Khairat Saad el-Shater.
El Shater ran for president in 2012 for the movement’s Freedom and Justice Party. He was disqualified by the election commission and replaced by Morsi who won the vote.
Before that, El-Shater was deputy chairman of the Brotherhood. In recent years, he liaised between the Brotherhood and the US embassy in Cairo as well as the Obama administration.
Before Egypt’s military rulers put him behind bars along with the ousted president Morsi, el-Shater kept Izzat Ibrahim supplied with cash, weapons and guidelines for running a campaign of terror against the ruling military caste through its allies and offshoots.