Two days after the deadly Libya terror attack, representatives of the FBI and National Counterterrorism Center gave Capitol Hill briefings in which they said the evidence supported an Al Qaeda or Al Qaeda-affiliated attack, Fox News has learned.
The description of the attack by those in the Sept. 13 briefings stands in stark contrast to the now controversial briefing on Capitol Hill by CIA Director David Petraeus the following day — and raises even more questions about why Petraeus described the attack as tied to a demonstration.
The Sept. 13 assessment was based on intercepts that included individuals, believed to have participated in the attack, who were celebratory — as well as a claim of responsibility.
FBI and NCTC also briefed that there were a series of Al Qaeda training camps just outside of Benghazi…
“Tanthim al-Qha’idah Yuhadiru Li’ilani Wujudihi Ghariban Fi Libya”
[Al-Qaeda is Getting Ready to Announce Soon its Presence in Libya]
The number of al-Qaeda militants in Libya remains unknown because of the secrecy surrounding its implantation. If the already-mentioned December 2011 CNN report is accurate, a few hundred al-Qaeda members must currently be operating in Libya. Most of them are likely connected with the three katibas—Ansar al-Sharia in Darnah, al-A’Hrar Libya in Sirt, and Dir’ Libya in Kufra—that have so far attracted scrutiny by their radical rhetoric and allegiance to the black flag, which symbolizes the commitment to al-Qaeda–type militant jihad. Dir’ Libya claimed to have more than seven hundred fighters in Kufra in southeast Libya in early 2012, according to its spokesman, Hayaka Alla.
Al-Qaeda is trying to expand its appeal through the use of front organizations, such as Ansar al-Sharia. Al-Qaeda operatives have returned from Pakistan, Iraq, Yemen, Europe, and elsewhere to help constitute a Libyan branch of al-Qaeda. Although foreign jihadists and al-Qaeda members are likely present, senior Libyan operatives are probably in command of the al-Qaeda associated network nodes in Libya. Al-Qaeda will probably refrain from using the al-Qaeda name and instead may use other names, such as Ansar al-Sharia, or simply mujahedin.
A March 2012 report in Elkhabar suggested that Libya has become the center of a network designed to send jihadists to Syria, where a jihad to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad’s regime has been declared by the most influential Muslim clerics in the Arab Sunni world. The newspaper reported that a joint French and Algerian security services investigation has identified 21 Algerians and five French citizens of North African descent among al-Qaeda’s fighters in Syria.
All of them allegedly went through Libya for training before traveling to Turkey with fake Libyan passports and crossing the border between Turkey and Syria. The newspaper further stated that al-Qaeda has opened a least two training camps in Libya—one near the town of Houn in the center of the country and the other believed to be close to Sahl ‘Ajlah, south of Blue Mountain in eastern Libya. These facilities are designed to train volunteers for jihad from the Maghreb, Egypt, and Europe (Europeans of North African descent).
Other reports confirm Elkhabar’s allegations that al-Qaeda has used the lack of security to establish training camps in Libya. Indeed, al-Qaeda and former members of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group have converged on Darnah to train and organize. Hundreds of Islamic militants are in and around Darnah, and there are camps where weapons and physical training are available to activists. Senior al-Qaeda operative Abd al-Baset Azzouz, sent to the region last spring by al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, is among them and has been operating at least one training center.
He sent some of his estimated 300 men to Brega to make contact with other militant Islamist groups farther west. Al-Zawahiri’s plan for him is to establish a base for al-Qaeda in Libya. Azzouz has been close to al-Zawahiri since 1980 and first visited Afghanistan in the 1990s to join the mujahedin fight against the Soviet occupation. There are two military camps at Darnah, both occupied by Islamists known as the Brigade of al-Nour, but they are now “linked” to the Libyan Ministry of Interior.
Al-Qaeda militants are using the countries that toppled their leaders in the “Arab Awakening” as bases to train radical Western youths for potential attacks. A small number of British would-be jihadists are also making their way to Arab countries to seek training and opportunities for militant activity, as they do in Somalia and Yemen.
Such an influx of fresh recruits will likely allow al-Qaeda to expand in numbers and capability, using training methodologies similar to those employed in Somalia and northern Mali. Key operatives such as Azzouz will provide training in overarching ideology and niche skills, such as improvised explosive device (IED) construction.
The presence of training camps in Libya for would-be jihadists in Syria and elsewhere is not surprising despite the Libyan transitional government’s denials, given the historical propensity of young Libyans for jihad and the lack of a strong central authority that could prevent such training from taking place.
The Libyan prime minister, ‘Abdel Rahim al-Kib, sternly rebuked Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin when the latter spoke of “a special training center for Syrian revolutionaries” who “are sent to Syria to attack the legal government” during a UN Security Council meeting in Libya. The prime minister did not, however, elaborate on the training-camp issue. Instead, he reiterated a pledge of political and financial support for the Syrian insurrection against President Assad’s dictatorship.
Source: LOC – Federal Research Division: Al-Qaeda in Libya: A Profile (August 2012)(PDF)
“AFRICOM is based in Stuttgart at Kelley Barracks. EUCOM is based at Patch Barracks in Stuttgart. It was EUCOM’s CIF that was sent to Sicily in preparation to be deployed to Benghazi.
So, this is another lie of omission. While AFRICOM still doesn’t have a CIF, EUCOM–right next door to AFRICOM–does, and they sent it to Sicily but it was ordered to not go in.
Also, Special Operations Command Europe (SOCEUR) has a CIF, and SOCEUR is based in Patch Barracks in Stuttgart, too. And I’m hearing that two CIFs were indeed deployed to Sicily. The second was almost certainly from SOCEUR.
So, saying AFRICOM doesn’t have its own CIF yet is a non sequitur. There were two CIFs available from the same source: Stuttgart.”
Eight senior members author letter seeking additional information
WASHINGTON- Rep. Howard P. “Buck” McKeon (R-CA), Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, together with Rep. Ileana Ros Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee; Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI) Chair of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence; Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee; Rep. Hal Rogers (R-KY), Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee; and Representatives C.W. Bill Young (R-FL), Reps Frank Wolf (R-VA), Kay Granger (R-TX), respectively Chairmen of the Appropriations Subcommittees on Defense, Commerce, Justice and Science and Foreign Operations; yesterday sent the following letter to President Obama on the recent terrorist attack on an American facility in Benghazi, Libya.
In the letter, the Chairmen ask the President to provide answers to a series of questions sent separately in a classified format. The letter’s authors are committed to returning to Washington to be briefed as soon as the answers to these questions are ready.
Dear Mr. President:
We are writing to express grave concern about the events surrounding the terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya on September 11, 2012, that led to the murder of the United States Ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens, and three other U.S. Government personnel. We profoundly regret the loss of lives and seek to ensure all necessary steps are being taken to bring the perpetrators to justice and prevent similar future attacks. While we appreciate your willingness to provide the House of Representatives with an interagency briefing last week, many of the members’ questions were left unanswered. To that end, we are seeking additional information regarding the intelligence leading up to the attack, the security posture of our embassy, the role former Guantanamo Bay detainees may have played, as well as the way forward in Libya and, indeed, the region.
We are also disturbed by the public statements made by members of the Administration that would lead the American public to believe this attack was a protest gone wrong, rather than what it truly was – a terrorist attack on the United States on the anniversary of 9/11. Decades after al Qaeda attacked our embassies in East Africa, which catalyzed a series of events that led to the attacks on 9/11, it appears they executed a highly coordinated and well-planned attacked against us again. Clearly, the threat from al Qaeda and affiliated groups has metastasized; yet we do not appear to be learning from the past. For example, although brave Americans were once more murdered by terrorists, it seems our response is to rely on a late-to-the-scene FBI investigation. Media reports indicate investigators were prevented from arriving in Libya until more than a week after the attack, but it is not clear that they have gone to Benghazi and have, therefore, been unable to secure valuable information, such as the Ambassador’s journal. The FBI has expertise in these situations, and they have a role to play.
However, this seems like a pre-9/11 mindset – treating an act of war solely as a criminal matter, rather than also prioritizing the gathering of intelligence to prevent future attacks. Moreover, given that violence in the region continues unabated, what actions are we undertaking to deter terrorists from capitalizing on the successful Benghazi attack, or launching similar attacks elsewhere in the region or in the homeland?
Thank you for your consideration of these concerns. We place significant weight on our constitutional responsibility to conduct appropriate oversight even when Congress is not in session and stand ready to return to Washington. Therefore, we respectfully request a joint briefing to respond to the questions enclosed, as classified Attachment A, at the earliest opportunity and would appreciate your commitment to continue to keep Congress informed even as the FBI investigation proceeds.
The Book of Honor
“The stars are what made this country great and their names should be in a Memorial book, not as signage on the wall.”
Master Stone Carver
The Book of Honor—on display in front of the Memorial Wall at all times—contains the names of employees who died while serving their country. Each is next to a 23-carat gold leaf star. For reasons of security—to protect intelligence sources and methods—the names of some of those on the Wall must remain secret, even in death. Each of these officers is remembered in the book by a gold star alone.
Part of Vogel’s concept for the Memorial Wall included a display case to house the Book of Honor. The cover of the book, never seen by the public, displays a 22-carat gold embossed Agency seal. Vogel selected Levant leather—from Morocco—with a soft pebble-grain texture commonly found in fine book binding. The inside cover is light tan silk end sheets. The original book is small in size, 25 inches x 9 inches. Sadly, by 2004, the 83rd star had been added to the original book and it was poignantly apparent that a larger book and case were required. Vogel and his apprentice, Johnston, designed and built the current case out of Carrara marble (measuring 36 inches x 22 ½ inches), leaving a resting place for the original book to lie underneath.
The second book is almost double the size of the original, but in all other ways an exact duplicate. The outside of the book is 20 inches x 32 inches and the page size is 18 inches x 29 ¾ inches. The Arches paper—selected for its high archival quality and calligraphy receptive surface—has rough, deckled edges typical of handmade paper.
The book is a work of art thanks to the skill of a professional calligrapher—a CIA employee—who writes each name and draws each star. She uses a dip pen, not a fountain pen; black sumi ink is used for its ease and glossy finish; a Mitchell round hand square nib, size three and a half, is reserved exclusively for the book; the gold stars are hand drawn with a Gillott number 303 nib; the shell gold is made in France from a hundred-year-old recipe. The stars are polished using an agate burnisher.
The style of lettering was selected by the calligrapher for its functionality and readability. “The importance is in the names, not the lettering,” she said.
When a star is added to the Wall, the Book of Honor is updated concurrently.
Warrior creeds, such as the Ranger’s famous creed, have been around for over a century to guide the actions of operators on and off the battlefield. The creed is a code of conduct and inspirational daily reminder of the “reason we train and fight” for the men and women of these units. Many outside observers point to the mission of the units and preparation of the teams when describing who these people are. Warriors know better. It is the Warrior Ethos that best describes who they are, an ethos that has been shared, albeit with different words, with the Samurai, the Spartans, the Marines and other Special Operations forces around the world.
The SEAL Code was created just two years ago. Prior to this, the SEALs had an unspoken code defined by the culture, historical experience and training. “Leave no man behind” and “failure is not an option” are examples of cultural mantras that evolved as the unwritten “SEAL code” from the Teams battlefield experiences in WWII, Korea, Vietnam and elsewhere. We have held to this code, never leaving a teammate in the field, dead or alive. Recent experience in Afghanistan with Medal of Honor winner LT Murphy and his teammates exemplifies this code of conduct.
The SEAL code, however, was not recorded or “written in stone” and as the community grew, it needed some grounding. Would it be more powerful if it were more than a few mantras like “leave no man behind” and “Failure is not an option?” It became clear to the SEALs that they needed a more comprehensive creed that was not subject to interpretation and erosion over time. In 2005 a cross-functional team from all ranks was brought together to ponder the issue and come up with a durable, written, code. The team took input from all quarters, and did some serious community soul searching to penetrate the essence of what it meant to be a SEAL. The results are nothing short of extraordinary.
How do you think the SEAL Code stands up? Will it be powerful and durable enough to guide Naval Special Warfare operators into a chaotic future, much as the Ranger Creed has done for the Rangers?
We at NavySEALs.com feel that the SEAL Code stands tall with the greatest creeds of martial history and is one of the most succinct articulations of how a warrior culture is to conduct themselves in war and peace. Read for yourself and decide:
The SEAL Code
• Loyalty to Country, Team and Teammate
• Serve with Honor and Integrity On and Off the Battlefield
• Ready to Lead, Ready to Follow, Never Quit
• Take responsibility for your actions and the actions of your teammates
• Excel as Warriors through Discipline and Innovation
• Train for War, Fight to Win, Defeat our Nation’s Enemies
• Earn your Trident everyday
United States Navy SEAL
In times of war or uncertainty there is a special breed of warrior ready to answer our Nation’s call. A common man with uncommon desire to succeed.
Forged by adversity, he stands alongside America’s finest special operations forces to serve his country, the American people, and protect their way of life.
I am that man.
My Trident is a symbol of honor and heritage. Bestowed upon me by the heroes that have gone before, it embodies the trust of those I have sworn to protect. By wearing the Trident I accept the responsibility of my chosen profession and way of life. It is a privilege that I must earn every day.
My loyalty to Country and Team is beyond reproach. I humbly serve as a guardian to my fellow Americans always ready to defend those who are unable to defend themselves. I do not advertise the nature of my work, nor seek recognition for my actions. I voluntarily accept the inherent hazards of my profession, placing the welfare and security of others before my own.
I serve with honor on and off the battlefield. The ability to control my emotions and my actions, regardless of circumstance, sets me apart from other men.
Uncompromising integrity is my standard. My character and honor are steadfast. My word is my bond.
We expect to lead and be led. In the absence of orders I will take charge, lead my teammates and accomplish the mission. I lead by example in all situations.
I will never quit. I persevere and thrive on adversity. My Nation expects me to be physically harder and mentally stronger than my enemies. If knocked down, I will get back up, every time. I will draw on every remaining ounce of strength to protect my teammates and to accomplish our mission. I am never out of the fight.
We demand discipline. We expect innovation. The lives of my teammates and the success of our mission depend on me – my technical skill, tactical proficiency, and attention to detail. My training is never complete.
We train for war and fight to win. I stand ready to bring the full spectrum of combat power to bear in order to achieve my mission and the goals established by my country. The execution of my duties will be swift and violent when required yet guided by the very principles that I serve to defend.
Brave men have fought and died building the proud tradition and feared reputation that I am bound to uphold. In the worst of conditions, the legacy of my teammates steadies my resolve and silently guides my every deed. I will not fail.
Bravo! Let’s all try to live up to this wonderful code of conduct in our daily pursuit of excellence. I believe you would see some serious results.
BigStory (AP): Libyan witnesses recount organized Benghazi attack
Wash Times: Jihadists plot to take over Libya (September 2011)
Vice: Al Qaeda Plants Its Flag in Libya (October 2011)
Onislam: Exiled Islamists Fuel Libyan Revolution (July 2011)
Ground Report: Libyan Rebels Led by “Former-Mujahedeen” from Guantanamo Bay (April 2011)
Townhall Radio: Senator McCain Talks (Audio)