by Jerry Gordon and Mike Bates with Kenneth R. Timmerman (July 2014)
Major Gen. Qassem Suleymani (right) was the powerful figure behind the 2012 attack on the US Consulate in Benghazi, Libya (left). Photo: EPA/Ay-Collection/Rex USA
Kenneth R. Timmerman is author of Dark Forces: The Truth About What Happened in Benghazi. It is a gripping exposé, replete with evidence of deception and cover up about who perpetrated the Benghazi attack that killed four Americans; Ambassador Chris Stevens, communications aide Sean Smith, ex-Navy Seals CIA-contractors, Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty on 9/11/2012. Dark Forces conveys the thesis that the attacks in Benghazi were preventable. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton bears responsibility for ignoring those warnings, and preventing a military response. Ambassador Stevens and his security team had repeatedly warned Clinton of the precarious security situation in Tripoli and Benghazi requesting additional resources. Clinton, for reasons of her own, opposed any military response to the attacks. U.S. Special Forces operators on the ground that day could have saved the Americans who perished.
Benghazi was the hub of the U.S. covert arms smuggling to Islamist groups in Libya and Syria. The Administration supplied weapons to fight Qaddafi in Libya and Assad in Syria knowing full well that many of the rebel leaders were al Qaeda operatives. The White House sent members of the National Security “Staff” (ex NSC) to Libya on operational missions to negotiate arms buy-backs from Libyan rebel leaders in an apparent violation of the National Security Act of 1947. A Minimum of 2,500 surface-to-air missiles (MANPADS) went “missing” in Libya. Many of them, upgraded with CIA Technology, have fallen into the hands of al Qaeda terrorists.
The Iranian regime coordinated the Benghazi attack. The group that took credit for the Benghazi attack, Ansar al-Sharia, was trained and equipped by the Quds Force, the overseas expeditionary arm of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps. Both the CIA in Benghazi, the Delta Force and Special Operations troops in Tripoli were actively monitoring Iranian operations in Benghazi. They warned their chain of command – including Ambassador Stevens – that Iranians were preparing a terrorist attack on the U.S. compound in Benghazi. However, they were deceived by a faked kidnapping of Quds Force operatives posing as humanitarian workers by paid Ansar al-Shariah operatives. Timmerman called the Benghazi attack “an act of state terrorism” by Iran’s Quds Force.
Source: New York Post composite graphic 6-22-14
Timmerman authored a New York Post article drawn from his book. In it he revealed the shadowy figure who planned and paid for the Quds Force attack that killed the four Americans; its commander, Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Suleymani, The shadowy Iranian spy chief who helped plan Benghazi. Suleymani is the nexus of the Iranian global terrorism campaign aimed at destabilizing the Middle East.
Here are some excerpts:
Qassem Suleymani is the head of the Quds Force, an organization that acts as a combination CIA and Green Berets for Iran, and a man who has orchestrated a campaign of chaos against the United States around the world.
Today, the Obama Administration has allied itself with Suleymani to fight the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
In this case, Iran’s goal — a Shi’ite-friendly government in Iraq — coincides with America’s hope that the country doesn’t fall apart.
Timmerman cites a former Iranian intelligence source saying:
“Iran wants chaos. They want to generate anti-American anger, radicalize the rebels, and maintain a climate of war,” … “They are very serious about this. They want to damage the reputation of the United States as a freedom-loving country in the eyes of the Arabs.”
“In Libya, Iran wanted to block US influence, which they saw as a threat.”…. “They saw the uprising against Khadafy — and the Arab Spring more generally — as an opportunity to accomplish this.”
Timmerman reveals Suleymani’s central role in the Iranian global terrorism campaign and the murders in Benghazi:
Suleymani has orchestrated attacks everywhere from Lebanon to Thailand. The US Department of Justice accuses him of trying to hire a Mexican drug cartel to blow up the Saudi Ambassador to the United States while he was in Washington, DC.
My sources, meanwhile, say Suleymani was involved in an even more direct attack on the US — the killing of Ambassador Christopher Stevens in Benghazi, Libya.
The details of planning and recruitment of the Ansar al-Shariah militia and the leaders of the Benghazi attack, Quds Force officer Ibrahim Mohammed Joudaki and Hezbollah operative Khalil Harb, are detailed in Timmerman’s New York Post article. Timmerman concluded with this comment:
This is the deadly deception we face from Iran. Suleymani may work with us to battle ISIS, but don’t believe for one moment that he’s our friend.
Timmerman is the New York Times bestselling author of earlier exposés Countdown to Crisis: The Coming Nuclear Showdown with Iran, and Shadow Warriors: The Untold Story of Traitors, Saboteurs and the Party of Surrender. His thriller fiction works Honor Killing and St. Peter’s Bones, dealt with an Iranian plot to secret a nuclear device into Washington, DC and the dire threats to the ancient Assyrian Chaldean Christian community in Iraq driving them to secure refuge in their diaspora. Timmerman spent 24 days in a PLO-Fatah dungeon as a captive during the First Lebanon War in 1982. That episode did not deter him from returning to Lebanon, Egypt, Iraq and Israel to report on arms trafficking and state and non-state terrorism. Both he and former UN Ambassador John Bolton were nominated by a former Swedish Foreign Minister for a Nobel Peace Prize their work disclosing Iran’s nuclear program. Read our interview with Timmerman in our NER Press collection, The West Speaks by Jerry Gordon.
Against the background here is Part I: Death in Benghazi – The Attack. Part II: Death in Benghazi – Will the House Select Committee Find the Truth? Features a discussion with Roger Aronoff, chairman of the Accuracy In Media Citizens’ Commission on Benghazi and Larry Ward of Special Operations Speaks.
Bates: Good afternoon and welcome to Your Turn. This is Mike Bates. With me in the studio is Jerry Gordon, a Senior Editor of the New English Review and its blog the Iconoclast. He is also the author of the book, The West Speaks. Jerry, welcome to Your Turn.
Gordon: Glad to be back.
Bates: We have joining us by telephone from Washington D.C., Kenneth Timmerman.
Timmerman: Thank you.
Bates: Timmerman has written a book entitled, Dark Forces; The Truth About What Happened in Benghazi. Ken, you know with all due respect here, why write a book? We know what happened, I mean some guy in America put out a video. A couple of Muslims didn’t like it. They started picketing the place. Things got a little out of hand and what difference does it make at this point?
Timmerman: Well that’s right and I’ve got some sea front property in Arizona I would like to sell you too. (laughs).
Bates: So what really happened on the night of September 11, 2012?
Timmerman: I tell that story in some detail in the book because it has really never been well told. It was a coordinated terrorist attack. It was orchestrated by the Quds Force which is the military overseas strike force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps. The people who they had hired there, were hired guns. There was also here a pickup team. However, the first people who entered the diplomatic compound came in as a coordinated military attack. They breached the walls. They brought in fifty caliber gun trucks. They put down covering fire so the diplomatic security officers who were there to guard the ambassador would hunker down in a separate building. Then they located the ambassador who was in the Villa. They knew where the safe haven was because they had already done reconnaissance. That is not something that spontaneous protestors would have done. They went down and rattled his cage to make sure he was inside. Once they knew he was inside they went back upstairs and torched the place with diesel knowing that he would perish in the flames and smoke.
Bates: So did Chris Stevens die of a beating or from smoke inhalation?
Timmerman: He died of smoke inhalation. When I say they rattled his cage I mean quite literally there was a door of metal bars. It was not a solid door. It was a door of metal bars and they rattled that door and banged on it with their AK47’s. Finally, they were pulled back by the leader who was under the control of the Iranians.
Bates: So the images that we have seen of Christopher Stevens’ body being beaten, was he already deceased at that point?
Timmerman: I believe he was, I do not believe he was beaten while he was alive. If they did beat him afterwards it would have been on the way to the hospital. I don’t believe that happened. I believe that the video that you have seen of the ambassador being taken out with his shirt sort of undocked and very unkempt, I think that was of really tourists who came along later on. Terrorism tourists or war tourists who came and got his body. They were dressed in designer clothes. They weren’t in military fatigues. They weren’t part of the attackers and from everything I have been able to gather they actually did deliver him to the hospital.
Gordon: Ken, what happened at the Annex? We know that unfortunately two ex-Navy Seals and CIA Contractors were killed with mortar fire. Could the Ansar al-Sharia pick up team do that?
Timmerman: That is one of the specific things that I discovered in writing this book. The Libyans had no experienced mortar men, not in the Libyan Army and not amongst the guerilla fighters. The mortar men were Iranians. I believe they were Iranian nationals who came as part of a special unit that arrived in Benghazi on July 31st with a specific intent and orders to carry out this terrorist attack.
Bates: Did the State Department have some advanced warnings that these threats were made?
Timmerman: They had lots of warnings that the Consulate was going to be under attack. Don’t forget that in mid-June of 2012, the British Ambassador was nearly assassinated. There was an attack on his convoy and then the Red Cross was also attacked. There were two attacks on the U.S. Diplomatic Facility in Benghazi as well. So there had been multiple attacks on Western facilities. Everybody knew it. They had countless meetings back in Tripoli to try to figure out what to do. The head of the security team, Lieutenant Colonel Andy Woods, whom I interviewed on multiple occasions for my book, told them we have to either shut down or do things really differently in Benghazi, like have serious security.
Bates: Instead they had local Libyans guarding it. I am sort of at a loss other than just gross incompetence because I can’t imagine that Hillary Clinton deliberately wanted Ambassador Stevens to be murdered and that building to be torched. I mean, other than just incompetence, why didn’t we beef up security or evacuate the premises?
Timmerman: She was warned repeatedly. They beseeched her in cable after cable, please send us more security. We need more security officers and she refused to do that. Hillary’s whole shtick if you wish in Libya was that we are not the George W. Bush Administration and we do not occupy Arab countries. We do not go there with our guns ablazing and Marines on the ground. We are friendly with these Muslim groups and they are friendly with us. So she did not want to contradict that by having the appearance of any kind of military presence on the ground. Even the eighteen U.S. Special Forces team who had been there up until August were told not to wear their military uniforms outside of the Embassy compound in Tripoli. Those were Hillary Clinton’s orders.
Gordon: Ken, who concocted this fairy tale as you call it in your book about the internet video being the trigger point for this attack?
Timmerman: That is frankly Jerry, one of the unanswered questions that I’m hoping Representative Trey Gowdy and his select committee will investigate. They need to obtain the cable traffic, the emails, the exchanges, and the phone logs, all of these interoffice back and forth between Hillary Clinton and her aides. Her office issued the first a press release at 10:08 Washington time on the night of the attacks saying that it was all the fault of an internet video. It came out of her office. We know from what has been released so far there was no reporting out of Libya saying this was a protest having to do with a YouTube video. There was no reporting. All of the reporting was coming out of the embassy in Tripoli. Security people said it was a terrorist attack so she had to know that. We don’t know where that story originated and we need to find that out.
Bates: Kenneth, I have read reports elsewhere that some of these terrorists that were attacking the facility in Benghazi were coordinating the attacks using cell phones obtained, most likely stolen, not given, but taken, from the State Department and that American Intelligence Agencies were listening to them in real-time as they planned and carried out the attack. Is that true?
Timmerman: I don’t have any indication of that. What I do know for a fact is that there was a very sophisticated cat and mouse game going on between the Iranians and the Americans. The CIA who was in the Annex in Benghazi penetrated the Quds Force Communications; their cell phones and VHF radios. The Quds Force had penetrated the Annex communications and the Quds Force knew that the CIA was listening to them which the CIA did not know. Now that sounds a little complicated. The Iranians decided to play a very sophisticated game of deception with the Americans. The CIA knew that the Iranians came to Benghazi July 31st, for operational purposes to carry out of a terrorist attack. Their mission was to watch them and then to stop them. The Iranians said O.K., we’re going to pull the wool over their eyes. They staged a kidnapping of terrorist teams by local militias that had been hired by the Iranians so they took them off the street. The CIA said, problem solved, and stopped looking. Of course meanwhile, the Iranians continued to plan and work on its attack.
Gordon: Didn’t they come in masquerading as humanitarian aid workers?
Timmerman: They faked the kidnapping of a team of Red Crescent workers and these were people who were there ostensibly to conduct humanitarian aid; doctors and people who worked with them, their medical aides.
Gordon: Ken, did the orders come from Tehran for this attack in Benghazi?
Timmerman: The attack was ordered by Tehran and personally by Qassem Suleymani the head of the Quds Force. He deputized a very senior Revolutionary Guards Commander. I named him in the book. He is a two-star General. He personally came to Libya to make sure that everything happened correctly. He had another Deputy who was the ground commander and there was a third individual, who I also named, who was a very Senior Lebanese Hezbollah militia leader, an Arab. He fit in with the people on the streets so he did not look Iranian. He was their front person. He was the one who was there actually recruiting the fighters and giving them the operational orders on the ground. This was an Iranian operation from start to finish. They used pick up players who weren’t the ones who planned the operation, carried out the surveillance, gave the orders and watched it as it was going on.
Bates: Regarding the attack in Benghazi I have heard the facility referred to as an embassy, as a consulate, as a diplomatic facility, as a CIA safe house. What really was the purpose of this structure that was attacked on September 11, 2012 in Benghazi, Libya?
Timmerman: Now it’s going to get a little bit confusing. There were actually two separate facilities. Two separate villa compounds. The one where the ambassador died was a diplomatic compound which people sometimes referred to as a consulate. Separate from that about a five minute drive away was a heavily armed, heavily fortified CIA Annex compound which was supposed to be top secret. Ostensibly nobody knew about it. However, everybody in Benghazi knew about it. It was well-armed and the security was thorough. Frankly it is beyond me why they didn’t keep the Ambassador in that facility rather than the diplomatic compound on the night of September 10th to 11th.
Gordon: Ken, what was going on at that facility?
Timmerman: The CIA compound was set up during the insurrection in Libya to serve the CIA as a base to arm the rebels because they had a presidential finding from the White House to provide weapons to the rebels against Qaddafi. Part of that operation was, as I reveal in Dark Forces, to give the rebels stinger missiles at the very beginning of the conflict before NATO started to bomb Qaddafi. The missiles were provided through a cut out, the government of Qatar, and Qatari Special Forces. That is a fascinating story because in the end we tried to get those missiles back. It is one of the reasons they continued to operate the CIA Annex in Benghazi and they failed. So some of the missiles went missing.
Gordon: What was the status of John Brennan in this episode?
Timmerman: At the time John Brennan, who today is the Director of the CIA, was head of counter-terrorism programs at the White House. In fact he was much more than that. He was actually running the operation in Libya. He dispatched national security staff to Libya in ways which I believe are a violation of the National Security Act of 1947. He sent some there on operational missions to try to get back these missing missiles. I like to call the story of the missing missiles, the original sin; that led to the sin concocted by Hillary Clinton of this YouTube video provoking a protest gone badly.
Bates: Kenneth, a few weeks prior to the publication of Dark Forces, American Special Forces captured Abu Khattala who was the alleged leader of this attack. Was that something that we should be really amazed about much like the Bin Laden killing or was this a timed event that was staged. I mean, Khattala was interviewed by western journalists. How hard could he have been to find all of those years?
Timmerman: Well, it was kind of choreographed by Hollywood wasn’t it? You know Abu Khattala was hiding in plain sight. As you say he was sitting in cafes, sitting in restaurants, talking to western news reporters, not disguised at all. He went to work every day. He was a building contractor and lo and behold it took the U.S. Intelligence Community apparently two years to find him. It took two years for the President to give the order when it was expedient to him politically to go get him.
Gordon: Does Iran have an agenda that encompasses that entire region?
Timmerman: In Libya their agenda was primarily to kick the Americans out, to smash any semblance of normality to keep the country from recovering. They did not want to see Libya become a modern pro-Western Arabic/Muslim country at peace. So they were really hoping to just perpetuate the violent civil unrest in Libya. Going after our legation, driving the American diplomatic force out of Libya was part of that plan.
Bates: I have heard numerous reports that our military was ready to launch a rescue mission or some sort of attack from either Italy or elsewhere in the region and they were given a stand down order. Is that true and who would have given that order?
Timmerman: I found no evidence to corroborate that that type of stand down order was given. However, there were stand down orders given and let me explain. First of all the President of the United States never told the U.S. military to stand up. He never told them, go and do whatever it takes to help our people in Libya. He just told Secretary of Defense Panetta and General Dempsey to take care of it, and don’t bother me tonight. I have a fundraiser tomorrow in Las Vegas. However, there was an explicit stand down order given by Hillary Clinton. There is an outfit called the Foreign Emergency Search Team and they were on call. They included Special Forces, FBI, CIA, very well armed sitting in Quantico if I’m not mistaken. They could have been in their planes in one or two hours and been in Libya within eight hours. That might have enabled them to have arrived before the final attack that killed Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods at the Annex. Hillary Clinton explicitly told them to stand down. She refused to convene the interagency counter-terrorism group that coordinates all of the assets of U.S. Government. She was the one who actually issued the stand down orders. Now this is important because the Secretary of State alone has authority to ask for military force in support of a U.S. diplomatic facility overseas. It’s her responsibility, not even the President’s.
Gordon: Ken, what do you think Hillary’s reaction is going to be to your book?
Timmerman: She has already started to double down claiming again that it’s just a You Tube video, maybe it was, maybe it wasn’t, maybe it’s a little of video, maybe a little not.
Bates: Thank you Kenneth for joining us today on 1330 WEBY.
Continue reading part II here.
Also see Jerry Gordon’s collection of interviews, The West Speaks.
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