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Entries in Benghazi (34)

Wednesday
Jan232013

Were Attackers in Algeria Also Involved in Benghazi Raid?

STR/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- A senior Algerian official says that a militant captured following the deadly siege at a BP natural gas complex in the Sahara claims some Egyptian members of the terrorist group that occupied the facility last week also took part in the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, last Sept. 11.

According to a story in Wednesday’s New York Times, the militant was one of three kidnappers taken alive by Algerian special forces while 29 others were killed along with at least 38 hostages, three of them Americans who worked at the plant.

The Algerian official quoted by the Times did not say if the captured militant’s Benghazi claims could be considered viable or how his confession came about.

If true, however, it would suggest that terrorists are joining forces throughout North Africa, particularly after the so-called Arab spring and the fall of Col. Mommar Gadhafi’s regime in Libya.

What might boost the veracity of the possible Algeria-Benghazi connection are reports from U.S. counterterrorism and intelligence officials that Ansar al-Shariah members who led the attack on the Benghazi consulate have links to al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, a group currently active in Mali.

However, American officials don’t believe AQIM was involved in the attack on the consulate where U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were killed.

More details about the Algerian hostage situation are expected to be unveiled on Wednesday when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton testifies before Congress about failures of the State Department to adequately protect the consulate in Libya from terrorists.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Nov132012

David Petraeus Personally Investigated Benghazi Attack

KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- In late October, former CIA Director David Petraeus traveled to Libya to conduct his own review of the Benghazi attack that killed four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens.

While in Tripoli, he personally questioned the CIA station chief and other CIA personnel who were in Benghazi on Sept. 11 when the attack occurred.

The Libya stop was part of a six nation trip to the region.  Petraeus intended the review as a way to prepare for his upcoming testimony before Congress on Benghazi.

"He was looking forward to testifying," a Petraeus friend told ABC News.  "He wanted to be fully prepared."

Petraeus' friend described his investigation as Petraeus' "personal review" of both the Sept. 11 attack and the events leading up to it.  

The trip was so recent that the CIA has told the Congressional Intelligence committees that the trip report has not yet been completed.

Petraeus' personal involvement in this investigation is one reason some in Congress are likely to insist he testify on Benghazi.  But now Petraeus is telling friends he does not think he should testify.

Petraeus has offered two reasons for wanting to avoid testifying: Acting CIA Director Morell is in possession of all the information Petraeus gathered in conducting his review and he has more current information gathered since Petraeus' departure; and it would be a media circus.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Nov072012

Obama Calls McCain’s Allegation of Benghazi Cover-Up ‘Nonsense’

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama on Tuesday rebuffed as “nonsense” the insinuation by Sen. John McCain and other Republicans that the administration had engaged in a “cover-up” of botched security planning and response at the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya, surrounding the attack on Sept. 11.

“Any allegations of cover-up are nonsense, and I’ve said so repeatedly,” Obama told anchor Ron Steele of KWWL-TV in an interview.

“Look, these are our people that we send into harm’s way.  There’s an investigation being done as we speak, and not only will we find out exactly what happened, but we will bring to justice those who carried out this attack,” he said.

McCain has been harshly critical of the administration’s security procedures and crisis response in Benghazi, telling Face the Nation on Oct. 28, “I don’t know if it’s either a cover-up or the worst kind of incompetence.”

Obama has said he will hold accountable any member of the administration who “didn’t do their job” before, during or after the Benghazi attack.  But he says he will await completion of the investigation before passing judgment.

White House officials have said Obama is not -- at this stage -- actively engaged in or receiving updates on the internal review, but that he expects a “rigorous” summary of the findings at a later date.

The president, who has repeatedly faced questions about the Benghazi attacks in local media interviews, sought to cast the incident as an unfortunate aberration in a region where he has worked to restore “America’s respect and resolve.”

“The broader story is that in Libya as is true in many other parts of the world, America has stood by democracy, stood by the aspirations of the people of Libya, and that’s why when this attack happened you saw tens of thousands of people on the streets of Libya who are claiming that America is our friend,”  he said.

“And that’s the kind of leadership that Ambassador Chris Stevens, who was tragically killed, was all about.  And that’s what our administration has been all about.  We’ll find out exactly what happened and we will bring those who carried this attack out to justice.  But that should not detract from the fact that four years after I took office America’s respect and resolve around the world is unquestioned and that’s a big step forward,” Obama added.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Nov022012

Pentagon on Benghazi Troop Movements: ‘Swift Action’ on Night of Attack

GIANLUIGI GUERCIA/AFP/GettyImages(WASHINGTON) -- A day after the release of a new timeline of the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, the Pentagon has released new details about  the military forces moved that night in case they were needed in the region.

The timeline released Thursday by a senior U.S. intelligence official revealed the major role that CIA security forces in Benghazi and Tripoli, Libya, played in responding to the attack on the American consulate in Benghazi.

On Friday, Pentagon spokesman George Little provided new details of U.S. military movements made the night of the attack in case they were needed.

Little said that within a few hours of the Sept. 11 attack in Benghazi, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta ordered U.S. military forces to move to Sicily in preparation for an uncertain situation in Libya.

“This department took swift action,” said Little. “It did respond, the secretary ordered forces to move."

“We were prepared for a range of contingencies in the course of this very tragic incident,” said Little. “We were ready for the need to augment security measures at our facilities in Libya, if called upon.  We were prepared for the possibility, for instance, of a hostage situation, as well.  These were all the things that we were looking at for an event we did not know was going to happen in Benghazi that night. ”

According to Little, Panetta ordered forces to move towards the naval air station in Sigonella, Italy, after conferring with Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Gen. Carter Ham, the commander of U.S. Africa Command who was in Washington for regularly scheduled meetings.

Among the units ordered by Panetta on the night of the attack to Sicily, which is less than 500 miles from Libya, were two special operations teams that were moved to  Sigonella.

As previously reported, one of the units came from a U.S. military base in “Central Europe.” And Little disclosed that Panetta also ordered another team from the United States to head to Sigonella.  Little refused to describe what kind of unit was sent from the U.S., though it was presumably a special operations team trained for hostage rescues.

Little said both the units “did not arrive until after the entire sequence of events was complete. … They were in Sigonella many hours after the attacks.”

The Pentagon spokesman said that it can take hours for troops to be organized and transported to where they might be used.  He added that at the time they were ordered to move, policy makers "did not know when the attacks would end.”  Little said that, in theory, a hostage situation in Benghazi could have lasted for days.

“We didn’t have forewarning of this tragic event in Benghazi,” Little said. “The entire U.S. government was starting from a cold start.”

Another new detail disclosed Friday was that Panetta ordered the deployment of not one, but two platoons of specially trained Marines to protect U.S. diplomatic facilities in Libya.

Based in Rota, Spain, the platoons headed to Sigonella for possible deployment to Libya.  One platoon was dispatched on Sept. 12 to protect the U.S. embassy in Tripoli.  The other platoon was to have gone to Benghazi to secure the consulate compound, but was never sent after it was determined that all U.S. personnel had been evacuated from Benghazi.

Little reaffirmed that no other American aircraft were involved over Libya the night of the attack beyond the unarmed surveillance drone that arrived 90 minutes into the attack.  As for reports that an AC-130 gunship could have been dispatched over Libya at the time of the attack,  Little was clear that “there was no AC-130 within a continent’s range of Benghazi” that night.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Nov022012

FBI Granted Access to Benghazi Suspect in Tunisia

FBI(WASHINGTON) -- FBI agents investigating the Benghazi attack have been granted access a suspect who is currently being held in Tunisia. Ali Harzi was initially detained in Turkey after he posted information on a social media site about his involvement in the attack. Harzi was then extradited to his home country of Tunisia where he was being held in a jail. The FBI had been trying to gain access to him since last month.
 
After working through the diplomatic process the FBI will finally be able to interview him in the coming days.
 
Final arrangements are being made with the FBI and Tunisian authorities about how the interrogation will take place. Tunisian security officials are likely to be present during the questioning by the American agents.
 
U.S. Senators Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. and Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., have been briefed on the issue from the FBI.
 
In a press release the Senators issued the following statement:
 
“We are very pleased the Tunisian government is working with American investigators to allow in person access to Ali Ani al Harzi.  Under this arrangement the interviews will be under Tunisian supervision and consistent with their sovereignty and meets the needs of our investigative team.
 
Allowing American investigators in person access will make the interview more meaningful and is a welcome breakthrough in our efforts  to find the perpetrators of the Benghazi Consulate attacks.  This tight collaboration between our countries shows the growing strength of our partnership.
 
It is unfortunate it has taken this long to get an in-person interview as time is of the essence in cases like this.  We hope our interview of Ali Ani al Harzi will bear fruit and we can bring to justice those responsible for killing Ambassador Stevens and three other Americans.
 
Tunisia is where the Arab Spring began and these latest events reaffirm the growing alliance between our two countries.  We look forward to working with the Tunisian government to strengthen the ties between our two countries.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Nov022012

Libyan Police Reportedly Scouted US Consulate Before Attack

STR/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- There is mounting evidence that the deadly attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, was an inside job, based on a draft letter reported by ForeignPolicy.com, a Washington Post company.

According to the website, a letter was written to the Libyan Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Benghazi by a member of the American staff at the consulate about someone from the local police force taking photographs of the building on Sept. 11.

Later that day, the consulate came under a well-coordinated assault that led to the deaths of four Americans, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens.

Based on the observations of a guard, the letter said in part "a member of the police force was seen in the upper level of a building across from our compound.  It is reported that this person was photographing the inside of the U.S. special mission and furthermore that this person was part of the police unit sent to protect the mission."

Meanwhile, another draft letter from two days earlier bitterly complained that extra security requested of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that included round-the-clock police protection and a police explosive detection dog was not provided.

It was unclear whether the letters were actually sent, according to the reporters from ForeignPolicy.com who found them.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Nov012012

New Detailed Account of Benghazi Attack Notes CIA’s Quick Response

STR/AFP/GettyImages(WASHINGTON) -- Intelligence officials have disclosed a new detailed timeline of the attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, acknowledging the CIA played a greater role in responding to the attack than has previously been disclosed.  A senior U.S. intelligence official also insisted that the CIA security team that initially responded to the attack was not given orders “to stand down in providing support,” as had been suggested in media reports.

The timeline provided by a senior U.S. intelligence official gives the first precise account of how CIA security teams provided the first response to the Sept. 11 attack on the diplomatic mission in Benghazi, which killed four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens.

The attack has become a political hot potato in the presidential campaign, with conservatives accusing the administration of not being transparent.  The State Department has previously released a detailed account of the night’s events, but did not acknowledge a CIA role in the response.  The timeline given by a senior Intelligence official confirms that the facility previously described by the State Department as an annex, was in fact, a facility housing CIA security officers.  It does not provide any additional details on the current intelligence assessment that the attack was an opportunistic result of earlier protests that day outside the U.S. embassy in Cairo over an anti-Muslim movie.

The official says there was “no second guessing” of those on the ground in Libya by senior officials either in Libya or Washington.

“There were no orders to anybody to stand down in providing support,” said the official.  The official’s comments appeared to be a direct rebuttal of a Fox News report that CIA teams on the ground had been told by superior officers to “stand down” from providing security support to the consulate.

According to the official, upon learning of the attack at the consulate, the security team at the annex responded “as quickly and effectively as possible.”  The official described how the security team tried to rally additional support from local Libyan forces and heavier weapons, but that when that could not be accomplished “within minutes” they moved out to the compound. The official called the security team “genuine heroes” who risked their lives to save those at the compound.

According to the new timeline the annex received a call at 9:40 p.m. local time that the consulate was coming under attack. A team of six CIA security operatives left the annex for the mission within 25 minutes of that call.

Over the next 25 minutes the security team approached the compound and attempted to secure heavy weapons.  They encountered heavy enemy fire when they entered the consulate compound to locate Stevens and the other Americans who were there at the time of the attack.

At 11:11 p.m., an unarmed U.S. military surveillance drone arrived over the compound.  U.S. officials have told ABC News that the drone had been redirected to Benghazi from an ongoing mission elsewhere in Libya.

By 11:30pm, all of the Americans, with the exception of the missing Stevens, had left the compound in vehicles that immediately came under fire.

The annex itself came under sporadic small arms and RPG fire for the next 90 minutes before the attackers eventually dispersed.

At around 1 a.m. an additional CIA  team of about six security officers from the embassy in Tripoli had arrived at Benghazi.  U.S. officials have acknowledged that the embassy in Tripoli had chartered an aircraft to take the team to Benghazi.  The official disclosed the new detail that two U.S. military officers were part of the team that flew in from Tripoli.

Upon learning that the situation at the annex had calmed down, the team that came in from Tripoli initially wanted to focus their attention on locating Stevens, who had been taken to a local hospital.

When the team finally managed to secure transportation and an armed escort into Benghazi, they learned that Stevens  “was almost certainly dead and that the security situation at the hospital was uncertain.”  At that point they headed to the annex to help evacuate the Americans located there .

They arrived at the annex at  5:15 a.m.,  just before mortar rounds begin to hit the complex.  The attack killed two security officers, Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods, who were located on the annex’s roof.   Doherty had been part of the security team that had flown in from Tripoli.  The new attack on the annex lasted only 11 minutes.

Less than an hour later everyone at the annex was evacuated with the help of  "a heavily armed Libyan military unit."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Oct262012

Father of Consulate Victim Feels 'Abandoned' by Obama Administration

STR/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The father of former Navy SEAL Tyrone Woods, who was killed during the attack last month on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, feels "abandoned" by the White House because he has received no answers as to why there wasn't an attempt made to save his son and three other Americans, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens.

In an article published by the Weekly Standard, Charles Woods says "it’s coming out that apparently the White House situation room was watching our people die in real time, as this was happening."

On Thursday, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said that the military did not receive information in time to retaliate and criticized those who second-guessed the Pentagon's response to the attack with the perpetrators still at large.

Woods also describes meeting President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at Andrews Air Force Base where the remains of his son and the three other Americans were brought three days after the Sept. 11 assault.

According to Woods, the president "kind of just mumbled, you know, ‘I’m sorry.’  His face was looking at me, but his eyes were looking over my shoulder like he could not look me in the eye.  And it was not a sincere, ‘I’m really sorry, you know, that your son died.’"

He called shaking Obama's hand "like shaking hands with a dead fish.”

As for Clinton, Woods said, "I gave her a hug, shook her hand.  And she did not appear to be one bit sincere -- at all."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Oct262012

Panetta Explains Military Response on Day of Benghazi Attack

TIM SLOAN/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Defense Secretary Leon Panetta spoke Thursday about the “Monday morning quarterbacking” going on about the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi and why the U.S. military didn’t act sooner.
 
He said military assets had been moved, but that the attack on the consulate in Benghazi was over before there was enough good information about what had actually happened.  Not knowing exactly what was going on, he and other military leaders feel that “we could not put forces at risk in that situation”
 
For his part Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey said there are reviews under way and it wasn’t helpful to provide “partial answers.”  However, he did say he was confident that “our forces were alert and responsive to what was a very fluid situation.”
 
Panetta said the U.S. military had responded quickly by deploying forces to the region.  “We had FAST platoons in the region. We had ships that we had deployed off of Libya. And we were prepared to respond to any contingency. And certainly had forces in place to do that.”
 
But Panetta said the “basic principle is that you don't deploy forces into harm's way without knowing what's going on; without having some real-time information about what's taking place."
 
Panetta said he, Dempsey and AFRICOM’s Gen. Carter Ham did not have the information of “who was on the ground in that area” and so they “felt very strongly that we could not put forces at risk in that situation.”
 
Did the drone flying over the Benghazi compound provide an idea of what was going on?  “This happened within a few hours and it was really over before, you know, we had the opportunity to really know what was happening," said Panetta.
 
Panetta and Dempsey both said later that U.S. forces in the area were on a heightened alert because of the 9/11 anniversary, but Dempsey pointed out, “it was 9/11 everywhere in the world.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Oct232012

Email Alerts Describe Benghazi Consulate Assault Unfolding

John Foxx/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- A series of email alerts sent as Obama administration officials monitored the attack on the U.S consulate in Benghazi last month are the latest to shine light on the chaotic events that culminated in the death of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.

The names of the individual recipients of the emails, first reported by CBS News but independently obtained by ABC News Tuesday evening, are redacted. A source who requested anonymity said it appears they are sent by the State Department Operations Center to distribution lists and email accounts for the top national security officials at the State Department, Pentagon, the FBI, the White House Situation Room and the office of the Director of National Intelligence.

The first email, with a subject line of “U.S. Diplomatic Mission in Benghazi Under Attack,” sent at 4:05 p.m., about 25 minutes after the attack began, describes an assault on the compound by 20 armed people.

“The Regional Security Officer reports the diplomatic mission is under attack,” the email states. “Embassy Tripoli reports approximately 20 armed people fired shots; explosions have been heard as well.”

“Ambassador Stevens, who is currently in Benghazi, and four COM (Chief of Mission) personnel are in the compound safe haven,” the email continues. “The 17th of February militia is providing security support.”

The next email sent at 4:54 p.m. states that the shooting has stopped and the compound was cleared, adding that a response team was “onsite attempting to locate COM personnel.”

The third email updates officials that Ansar al-Sharia claimed responsibility for the Benghazi attack on Facebook and Twitter, and has threatened to attack the Tripoli embassy.

The timing of the emails is consistent with what a senior State Department official told reporters at a briefing on Oct. 9.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio







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