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Published On: Sat, May 4th, 2013

Three Yemeni members of Al Qaeda linked to Benghazi attacks, later connected to Moktar Belmoktar, Mali hostage situation

According to a Saturday investigation by CNN reporters, three Yemeni members of Al Qaeda took part on the coordinated attack on the Benghazi safe house in Benghazi, Libya, on September 11, 2012. The attack left four dead Americans, including ambassador Christopher Stevens.

“One senior U.S. law enforcement official told CNN that “three or four members of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula,” or AQAP, took part in the attack,” CNN reports.

J. Christopher Stevens, United States ambassador to Libya from May 2012 until killed in an attack on the embassy in September 2012

J. Christopher Stevens, United States ambassador to Libya from May 2012 until killed in an attack on the embassy in September 2012

It is not clear what command structure may have ordered the Al Qaeda operatives to strike at American diplomatic assets in Benghazi, which was initially blamed on the response to an anti-Islam YouTube video.

“According to one source, counterterrorism officials learned the identity of the men and established they had spent two nights in Benghazi after the attack. Western intelligence agencies began trying to track the men in the aftermath of the terrorist attack, but were always behind in their manhunt.”

The Mali hostage situation reveals deeper connections to these terrorists attacks.

“They were later traced to northern Mali, where they are believed to have connected with a fighting group commanded by Moktar Belmoktar, a prominent jihadist leader, according to a senior law enforcement source.”

Belmoktar is an Algerian terrorist operative linked to al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb who claimed responsibility for the attack on the In Amenas gas facility in southern Algeria in January this year. Some 38 people were killed during a three-day siege there.

The FBI released grainy photographs Wednesday of three men said to have been at the Benghazi compound on the night of the attack, saying it was “seeking information” on them. It is not known whether any of them are the AQAP individuals.

AQAP is regarded as one of the most active and dangerous of al Qaeda franchises. It has tried to launch several attacks on the U.S. homeland.

On Christmas Day 2009, a Nigerian recruited by the group attempted to blow up a plane flying into Detroit but failed because his device malfunctioned. The following October the group attempted to blow up planes heading to the United States with printer bombs disguised as air cargo. The packages were intercepted after a tip from Saudi intelligence.

In April 2012, a British informant working for Saudi counterterrorism thwarted a new plot by the group to bomb a U.S-bound airliner. The informant had infiltrated the group and was selected by them to launch the attack.

AQAP was the first al Qaeda affiliate to comment on the Benghazi attack. On September 14 it released a statement arguing the attack was revenge for the death of Abu Yahya al-Libi, a senior al Qaeda operative, in Pakistan in June 2012. It did not claim responsibility for the attack.

On September 10 — at least 18 hours before the attack — al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, in a video timed for the anniversary of 9/11, called for attacks on Americans in Libya to avenge the death of al-Libi.

Fire burns in the U.S. consulate in Benghazi after the attack there on September 11, 2012. VOA employee public domain

Fire burns in the U.S. consulate in Benghazi after the attack there on September 11, 2012. VOA employee public domain

 

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About the Author

- Writer and Co-Founder of The Global Dispatch, Brandon has been covering news, offering commentary for years, beginning professionally in 2003 on Crazed Fanboy before expanding into other blogs and sites. Appearing on several radio shows, Brandon has hosted Dispatch Radio, written his first novel (The Rise of the Templar) and completed the three years Global University program in Ministerial Studies to be a pastor. To Contact Brandon email [email protected] ATTN: BRANDON

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