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Wednesday, 12 December 2012

The Gun-Running, Covert Ops Mess in Benghazi

Kimberly Dvorak writes in The Examiner:

New details have emerged that shed light on the chaos that embroiled the Benghazi mission on 9/11/2012 that led to the murder of Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans at the hands of the very anti-Qaddafi rebels that Stevens formally liaised with for the CIA.

It wasn’t a secret that Ambassador Christopher Stevens played a key role in Libya’s “Arab Spring.” During the course of the revolution that ultimately toppled Muammar Qaddafi, Stevens’ built a relationship with the Libyan rebels and it’s this experience that made him the frontrunner for the Libyan ambassadorship. Stevens’ history of working with Libyan radicals provided the perfect opportunity for the Obama administration to covertly move newly purchased weapons from Libya’s freedom fighters to Syrian insurgents via ships through Turkey.

In March 2011 Stevens became the official U.S. liaison to the al-Qaeda-linked “Libyan opposition, working directly with Abdelhakim Belhadj of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group—a group that has now disbanded, with some fighters reportedly participating in the attack that took Stevens' life.”

Former CIA officer Clare Lopez said, “That means Stevens was authorized by the U.S. Department of State and the Obama administration to aid and abet individuals and groups that were, at a minimum, allied ideologically with al-Qaeda, the jihadist terrorist organization that attacked the homeland on the first 9/11, the one that’s not supposed to exist anymore after the killing of its leader, Osama bin Laden, on May 2, 2011.”

Obama’s weapon buyback program in Libya

Couple this with the weapon buyback program offered by the Obama administration and there’s a recipe for catastrophe.

Shortly after the October 2011 death of Qaddafi, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced in Tripoli that the U.S. was committing $40 million to help Libya “secure and recover its weapons stockpiles.” Department of State Assistant Secretary Andrew Shapiro confirms DOS had a weapons buy-back program in Libya that was also supported by the UK who gave $1.5 million, the Netherlands gave $1.2 million, Germany gave about $1 million and our neighbor to the north, Canada gave $1.6 million to purchase the deadly arsenal that went missing after the fall of Qaddafi.

The State Department was specifically looking to acquire the 20,000 MANPADS (they are commonly known as man-portable air shoulder-fire missiles) that went missing once Qaddafi was killed.

State Department Assistant Secretary, for Political-Military affairs, Andrew Shapiro said, they did not know how many MANPADs remained missing, but admitted it was a significant number.

“Many militia groups remain reluctant to relinquish them,” Shapiro said. He did say that the U.S. has recovered about 5,000 MANPADs earlier this year.

Repeated calls and emails went unanswered to the State Department and Shapiro regarding an update on the weapon buyback program as well as what the State Department did with the weapons they purchased.

Russia and China complained of U.S. arms trafficking in Syria

Another curious piece to this puzzle is Russia. Did they have a part to play inside Benghazi and was presidential contender, Mitt Romney right that Russia remains a threat to the U.S.? (Story by this reporter here)

The Russian response, under former KGB Cold War foe Vladimir Putin, who was visibly incensed last fall when a jubilant crowd of rebels murdered his ally, Muammar Qaddafi, has described the event as “repulsive and disgusting.”

Shortly after the death of U.S. ambassador in Libya, numerous Russian commentators used social media to describe their position on the destabilization in Libya.

“The democratized residents of Libya thanked the staff of the American Embassy for its support,” one Tweet read. “This is what you call exporting democracy, it seems. America gives Libya a revolution, and Libyans, in return, kill the ambassador.”

Aleksei K. Pushkov, the head of Russia’s parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee, wrote via Twitter: “Under Qaddafi they didn’t kill diplomats. Obama and Clinton are in shock? What did they expect – ‘Democracy?’ Even bigger surprises await them in Syria,” a New York Times story read in September.

It is no secret that Putin disagreed with the West’s view of Syrian ruler Assad. When Putin was Prime Minister, he delivered a scathing criticism of the Libya bombing by NATO and left the impression that under his leadership it would have never happened.

It’s also worth pointing out that Russia and China have consistently opposed any military intervention in Syria. Russia and its allies have repeatedly warned the West that efforts to aid Syrian rebels would only bring more bloodshed to an already embattled region. Also, the Russians have been demanding a cessation of U.S. aid to the Syrian rebels fighting President Assad, again noting that any military aid would destabilizes the entire region, and could have serious economic consequences for Russia.

Even Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov cautioned the West against arming the Syrian rebels. However, the Arab Times news agency said, “Western officials say that Russia’s vetoes have abetted the Syrian violence by encouraging Assad to pursue an offensive with his Russian-supplied armed forces to crush the popular revolt. Saudi Arabia and Qatar are believed to have funded arms shipments.”

Case in point, in late August Russia said there was increasing evidence that Syrian rebels were procuring large numbers of Western-made weapons. They even suggested that America and other EU countries were spurring the violence in Syria.

So was Benghazi a message delivered by the Russians to end U.S. gun-running by executing Ambassador Stevens, the kingpin between the armed groups, the Libya stockpiles, and the shipments to Turkey?

Reports are abundant and U.S. acknowledged guns went to Al Qaeda

Despite evidence to the contrary, a State Department spokeswoman rejected the idea of arms trafficking, saying Ambassador Stevens was in Benghazi for diplomatic meetings, and the opening of a new cultural center.

The State Department response rings hollow, however, since the Times of London reported that a Libyan Al Entisar ship was found carrying at least 400 tons of cargo. “Some of it was humanitarian, but also reportedly weapons, described by the report as the largest consignment of weapons headed for Syria's rebels on the frontlines.”

Middle East expert, Walid Phares confirmed the ship was carrying “a lot of weapons.”

Also former CIA Director Porter Goss told Fox News that some of the weapons from the Libya uprising are making their way to Syria. Goss claimed that the U.S. intelligence is aware of the networking given their presence in Benghazi and throughout the region.

"I think there's no question that there's a lot of networking going on. And ... of course we know it,” he said. Unfortunately, many of those weapons shipped through Turkey to Syria ended up in the hands of al-Qaeda.

Not so long ago, America armed the Taliban with shoulder-fire missiles to fight a proxy war against the Russians only to find those weapons being used to kill Americans during the “war on terror.” This illustrates once again that arming enemies is never a good idea.

Middle East experts contend the Muslim Brotherhood and its proxy, Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) leader Abdulhakim Belhadj, were in direct contact with Stevens and provided information as to which rebel groups in Libya and Syria deserved American trust and more importantly, weapons.

Proof comes from the 2010 classified cable from Stevens that read in part:Development Foundation brokered talks with imprisoned members of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) that led to the release earlier this year of about 130 former LIFG members. The GOL (Government of Libya) considers the program an important means to signal willingness to reconcile with former enemies, a significant feature of Libya’s tribal culture.”

The Business Insider wrote a story focusing on the export of fighters. “If the new Libyan government was sending seasoned Islamic fighters and 400 tons of heavy weapons to Syria through a port in southern Turkey—a deal brokered by Stevens' primary Libyan contact during the Libyan revolution—then the governments of Turkey and the U.S. surely knew about it.

Another portion of the 2010 classified cable says, “Libya also cooperates closely with Syria, particularly on foreign fighter flows. Syria has transferred over 100 Libyan foreign fighters to the GOL’s custody over the past two years, including a tranche of 27 in late 2007. Our assessment is that the flow of foreign fighters from Libya to Iraq and the reverse flow of veterans to Libya has diminished due to the GOL’s cooperation with other states and new procedures. Counter-terrorism cooperation is a key pillar of the U.S.-LIBYA bilateral relationship and a shared strategic interest.”

Crowds outside Benghazi mission were presumed buy-back customers

It’s been months since the 9/11 Benghazi attack and no official conclusions have been released. After last week’s Congressional closed-door intelligence briefing, many lawmakers emerged wondering why Ambassador Stevens was not more concerned with the growing boisterous rebel crowd outside the mission’s gates shortly before the attack that would kill him?

Retired Army Lieutenant Colonel and Defense Intelligence Agency operative Anthony Shaffer says he knows the answer. “The Ambassador was expecting a weapon buyback deal shortly before the attack. That knowledge played a role in the slow response and created the initial confusion in Benghazi.”

U.S. rendered no aid to Stevens despite President’s “render all aid” order

While there was no shortage of second-guessing in the White House Situation Room, military leaders in charge of quick response teams a half-a-world away sprang into action upon receipt of the consulate’s 911 call and readied the troops for a real-world rescue.

“As the events were unfolding, the Pentagon began to move special operations forces from Europe to Sigonella Naval Air Station in Sicily. U.S. aircraft routinely fly in and out of Sigonella and there are also fighter jets based in Aviano, Italy. But while the U.S. military was at a heightened state of alert because of 9/11, there were no American forces poised and ready to move immediately into Benghazi when the attack began,” the Military Times reported.

It’s also been reported that on the fateful day in Libya, CIA/SEALs had a laser target trained on the enemy firing mortar rounds at the compound. The Pentagon has listed numerous explanations as to why the trained SEALs would use the lasers. However, they conveniently omitted the key component—the expectation that U.S. help was seconds away. The “fog of spin” from the Obama administration, no matter how creative, cannot conceal the truth. If fighter aircraft were dispatched to assist Ambassador Chris Stevens and other consulate personnel, a former Naval pilot says, “The paper trail would be a mile long. Not only do the pilots have to file logbook reports, but the ground crew, the crew arming the jets with appropriate weapons and the Italian air controllers would have exhaustive records.”

The President told a KUSA Denver reporter that the minute he found out about the Benghazi attack he directed all available diplomatic and military resources to secure American consular personnel.

Unfortunately for the CIA/SEALs fighting off the Ansar al-Shariah terrorists, the jets would never arrive. The fact, CIA/SEALs were painting their lasers on the enemy targets shortly after midnight, five hours before their eventual deaths, indicates they were expecting air support. And why would they be waiting for air support? Because the trained SEALs knew the oplans (operations plans) and military protocol for this exact operation once they requested the assistance.

U.S. did not undertake an immediate FBI investigation as in USS Cole attack

“There is clear precedence for conducting an investigation into this type of terrorist attack - we faced similar circumstance with the terrorist attack on the USS Cole in October of 2000 in Aden, Yemen,” Shaffer described. “We had to work rapidly to put a qualified team on the ground to investigate one of the most severe acts of terror in the pre-9/11 era. Many of the perpetrators of this attack were eventually killed, captured or eliminated via Predator drone strikes... but in the case of the Benghazi attack there HAS NOT been a rapid or expansive effort made by this White House to establish a clear path forward and begin the hard work of bringing justice to those who died and those who attacked and looted the weapons from the CIA annex -weapons that include Surface to Air missiles that can be used to down civilian airliners.”

The FBI's own press information concerning the response to the USS Cole bombing in 2000 highlights some key differences between the Benghazi incident and Yemen.

“We quickly sent to Yemen more than 100 agents from our Counterterrorism Division, the FBI Laboratory, and various field offices. Director Louis Freeh arrived soon after to assess the situation and to meet with the President of Yemen. On November 29, a guidance document was signed between the U.S. State Department and the Yemeni government setting protocols for questioning witnesses and suspects. FBI and Yemeni investigators proceeded with interviews, and a large amount of physical evidence was shipped back to the FBI Laboratory for examination.”

So what is the difference between the attack in Yemen against the USS Cole and the terror attack in Benghazi? Shaffer says, “CIA.”

“The CIA and State Department worked to keep FBI out of Benghazi because they knew as soon as the FBI showed up, an aggressive investigation would reveal the details of the CIA mistakes and wrongdoings.”

Was Ambassador Stevens still a CIA agent?

Speculation is nothing new inside the beltway, but several questions surround Ambassador Chris Stevens real/past employer. If he were working as a CIA agent he would be in violation of international diplomatic protocols by running an arms trafficking program under diplomatic cover.

Judge Napolitano offered this scenario to the Washington Times. “Now we can connect some dots. If Stevens was a CIA agent, he was in violation of international law by acting as the U.S. ambassador. And if he and his colleagues were intelligence officials, they are not typically protected by Marines, because they ought to have been able to take care of themselves.”

Further ties to the intelligence world comes from a 2010 leaked Wikileaks classified cable that highlights the topics Mr. Stevens would be discussing to assist Libyans full reintegration to the international community.

The main issues include; Internal political issues, bilateral relations, human rights, counter-terrorism cooperation, Sub-Saharan Africa, regional issues including Iraq and Iran, and energy sector and commercial opportunities.

In the classified cable Stevens describes Libya as a “strong partner in the war against terrorism and cooperation in liaison channels is excellent…Worried that fighters returning from Afghanistan and Iraq could destabilize the regime, the GOL has aggressively pursued operations to disrupt foreign fighter flows, including more stringent monitoring of air/land ports of entry, an blunt the ideological appeal of radical Islam.”

However, since this explanation lends itself to possible criminal actions requiring jail time, and since the CIA doesn’t post a roster of their agents, American’s will undoubtedly remain in the dark.

Congressional hearings have produced no info on the Benghazi attack

Compelling evidence names the Benghazi’s mission as the headquarters for another U.S. arms trafficking business deal gone wrong. The mission is also the scene where U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens, two former SEALs and one State Department Information Officer were murdered.

Keeping that statement in mind, the Benghazi disaster takes a new angle, one that could have derailed President Obama’s reelection.

Normally international gun trafficking is a punishable crime, but sadly, not only is Benghazi, Libya another U.S. sanctioned-weapons buyback program paying jihadist large sums of money to turn in their stolen arsenal, but it appears that Ambassador Stevens acted as a point man to move those newly-repurchased weapons into the hands of Syrian rebels, many of whom are affiliated with al-Qaeda.

This made for Hollywood movie script includes all the action, violence and drama required for today’s bloodthirsty audience—except it is real. The State Department provided the Benghazi mission with the diplomatic cover, or the comprehensive alibi, required for the Central Intelligence Agency to operate covertly in the jihadi-rich North African region.

If this is true, one could conclude that the attack on the Benghazi mission was a counterinsurgency operation launched by terrorists that opposed another American-installed government in the Middle East.

Conclusion

Other than closed-door hearing leaks from members of Congress, American citizens are still no closer to learning what exactly happened in Benghazi. Nor are they privy to “why” the terrorist organization that worked with the U.S., specifically Ambassador Stevens, would turn their weapons on the mission.

Perhaps Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will provide more details when she testifies before the House and Senate later this month. However most politicos agree she will provide more “fog of spin” the Obama administration is standing by.

The only new update is the arrest of a suspected terrorist this weekend in Egypt.

Most major media outlets reported that Egyptians detained Muhammad Jamal Abu Ahmad, a former Egyptian jihad member that was released from prison in 2011. It’s alleged that he is the leader of Jamal network that operates terror-training camps in Egypt and Libya and who wanted to set up al-Qaeda inside Egypt. But like everything connected to Benghazi, U.S. officials haven’t been cleared to interrogate convicted terrorist who may be responsible for the death of four Americans.

Posted on 12/12/2012 7:41 AM by Rebecca Bynum
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