TwitterFacebook

New York Times Investigative Report Destroys Right Wing Myths About Benghazi Attack

“Fueled in large part by anger at an American-made video denigrating Islam”
Middle East • Views: 21,745

The right wing narrative on the attacks against the American diplomatic mission in Benghazi is now well-established. It goes something like this:

The Obama administration lied when they initially said the attack was provoked by an American-made anti-Islam video. Actually, it was a well-planned Al Qaeda terror attack that had absolutely nothing to do with the video.

Today, an in-depth investigative report published by the New York Times explores these issues and concludes that nearly everything about this right wing narrative is wrong: A Deadly Mix in Benghazi.

There are a lot of interesting details in the article, but two points are important to note:

  • Islamist groups did indeed use that anti-Muslim video as a rallying point to launch the initial attack.
  • There's no evidence that Al Qaeda or any other international terrorist organization was involved, and no evidence of meticulous planning.

Months of investigation by The New York Times, centered on extensive interviews with Libyans in Benghazi who had direct knowledge of the attack there and its context, turned up no evidence that Al Qaeda or other international terrorist groups had any role in the assault. The attack was led, instead, by fighters who had benefited directly from NATO’s extensive air power and logistics support during the uprising against Colonel Qaddafi. And contrary to claims by some members of Congress, it was fueled in large part by anger at an American-made video denigrating Islam.

A fuller accounting of the attacks suggests lessons for the United States that go well beyond Libya. It shows the risks of expecting American aid in a time of desperation to buy durable loyalty, and the difficulty of discerning friends from allies of convenience in a culture shaped by decades of anti-Western sentiment. Both are challenges now hanging over the American involvement in Syria’s civil conflict.

There’s much more to this multi-part article, and you should, as always, read the whole thing. But it shows unequivocally that the reality in Libya is far more complex and murky than the simplistic anti-Obama talking points pushed relentlessly by the right.

UPDATE at 12/28/13 4:34:19 pm

This isn’t the first report in the New York Times that retaliation for that anti-Muslim video was a cause of the Benghazi attack, and that it was carried out by local Islamists. In October 2012, a month after the attack, the Times ran a story with reporting from Suliman Ali Zway in Libya, making these same points:

To Libyans who witnessed the assault and know the attackers, there is little doubt what occurred: a well-known group of local Islamist militants struck the United States Mission without any warning or protest, and they did it in retaliation for the video. That is what the fighters said at the time, speaking emotionally of their anger at the video without mentioning Al Qaeda, Osama bin Laden or the terrorist strikes of 11 years earlier. And it is an explanation that tracks with their history as members of a local militant group determined to protect Libya from Western influence.

[…]

To those on the ground, the circumstances of the attack are hardly a mystery. Most of the attackers made no effort to hide their faces or identities, and during the assault some acknowledged to a Libyan journalist working for The New York Times that they belonged to the group. And their attack drew a crowd, some of whom cheered them on, some of whom just gawked, and some of whom later looted the compound.

The fighters said at the time that they were moved to act because of the video, which had first gained attention across the region after a protest in Egypt that day. The assailants approvingly recalled a 2006 assault by local Islamists that had destroyed an Italian diplomatic mission in Benghazi over a perceived insult to the prophet. In June the group staged a similar attack against the Tunisian Consulate over a different film, according to the Congressional testimony of the American security chief at the time, Eric A. Nordstrom.

At a news conference the day after the ambassador and three other Americans were killed, a spokesman for Ansar al-Shariah praised the attack as the proper response to such an insult to Islam. “We are saluting our people for this zeal in protecting their religion, to grant victory to the prophet,” the spokesman said. “The response has to be firm.” Other Benghazi militia leaders who know the group say its leaders and ideology are all homegrown. Those leaders, including Ahmed Abu Khattala and Mohammed Ali Zahawi, fought alongside other commanders against Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi. Their group provides social services and guards a hospital. And they openly proselytize for their brand of puritanical Islam and political vision.

They profess no interest in global fights against the West or distant battles aimed at removing American troops from the Arabian Peninsula.

^ back to top ^

TwitterFacebook

Turn off all ads for a full year by subscribing!
For about 33 cents a day (per month) or 22 cents a day (per year), our subscription option turns off all advertisements at LGF!
Read more...

► LGF Headlines

  • Loading...

► Tweeted Articles

  • Loading...

► Tweeted Pages

  • Loading...

► Top 10 Comments

  • Loading...

► Bottom Comments

  • Loading...

► Recent Comments

  • Loading...

► Tools/Info

► Tag Cloud

► Contact

You must have Javascript enabled to use the contact form.
Your email:

Subject:

Message:


Messages may be published unless you request otherwise.
Tech Note:
Using the Contact Form
LGF Pages

This button leads to the main index of LGF Pages, our user-submitted articles. You can post your own LGF Pages simply by registering a free account with us.

Create a Page

This is the LGF Pages posting bookmarklet. To use it, drag this button to your browser's bookmark bar, and title it 'LGF Pages' (or whatever you like). Then browse to a site you want to post, select some text on the page to use for a quote, click the bookmarklet, and the Pages posting window will appear with the title, text, and any embedded video or audio files already filled in, ready to go.

Last updated: 2014-03-07 2:19 pm PST

LGF User's Guide
Recent Pages
cycroft
Russ Campbell’s Blog: Fiscal Conservatism Seems Alive and Well in Ottawa: 8,900 Public Service Jobs to Be Cut
When Con­ser­v­a­tives un­der Stephen Harper took of­fice in 2006, I was dis­ap­pointed at how much they re­sem­bled their pre­de­ces­sors when it came to their pen­chant for in­creas­ing the size of gov­ern­ment. More: Russ Campbell's Blog: Fiscal Conservatism Seems Alive and Well in Ottawa: 8,900 Public Service Jobs to Be Cut

2 hours, 39 minutes ago
Views: 54 • Comments: 0
Tweets: 0 • Rating: 0
Skip Intro
Why the Temperature of the Yellow Sea Is a Big Deal, and Other Questions About the South Korean Ferry Disaster
The boat ran into trouble several dozen miles from Jindo, an island that sticks out of South Korea's southwestern corner like a little toe. Jindo is surrounded by a group of even smaller islands that are slightly farther afield from the mainland. The ferry was curving around those small islands at the time it issued a distress call. What caused the disaster? We ...

3 hours, 47 minutes ago
Views: 125 • Comments: 2
Tweets: 9 • Rating: 0
FemNaziBitch
Bystander Effect, or Why This Week Has Been Really Scary
And if you have a friend or loved one who's survived an assault, here's a short list of things you should and shouldn't do to help out. Because if I've learned anything over the past few days, it's that watching someone you care for go through something like this can make you feel unbelievably helpless. But, in spite of that feeling, there are ...

7 hours, 27 minutes ago
Views: 119 • Comments: 1
Tweets: 1 • Rating: 0
Randall Gross
Healing Is the Message at Interfaith Service for Victims of Sunday’s Shootings
Clergy of different faiths, joined by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, delivered messages of hope and unity Thursday before more than 1,300 people gathered at the Jewish Community Center in Overland Park. "A pall has been cast over our great nation," Holder said. "We gather today not in joy, but in solemn reflection." The overall message, however, was focused on the power of ...

10 hours, 14 minutes ago
Views: 69 • Comments: 0
Tweets: 0 • Rating: 0
palmerskiss
More Than Half the Women in These Countries Are Married by the Time They Turn 18
The report is as sad as it is horrifying. A child bride forced into marriage in Nigeria has been accused of killing her much older groom and three of his friends by poisoning their meals with rat poison. The 14-year-old girl, Wasila Umaru, was married to the 35-year-old man last week. Although she told authorities she was forced into the betrothal, Wasila will ...

1 day, 1 hour ago
Views: 230 • Comments: 1
Tweets: 9 • Rating: 1
Idle Drifter
Calgary stabbings: How knife crime in Canada can cause ‘moral panic’
What Calgary police chief Rick Hanson called the "worst mass murder" in the city's history didn't end at the barrel of a gun. Instead, the 22-year-old suspect identified on Tuesday as Matthew de Grood is accused of entering the kitchen at a house party, taking "a large knife" and using it to fatally stab four men and one woman, all of whom were students ...

1 day, 14 hours ago
Views: 169 • Comments: 2
Tweets: 0 • Rating: 0
aagcobb
New York Electoral College: State Joins National Popular Vote Interstate Compact.
Ben Mathis-Lilley, Slate: New York Electoral College: State Joins National Popular Vote Interstate Compact. Instead of pushing for a Constitutional amendment, which would have to be ratified in 38 states, advocates ask individual state legislatures to pass an agreement: that they'll pledge all their presidential electors to the winner of the national popular vote as soon as enough other states pass the law to ...

1 day, 20 hours ago
Views: 189 • Comments: 7
Tweets: 0 • Rating: 1
Political Atheist
The Insane History of Rockets at Jet Propulsion Laboratories
The Rocket Boys In the late 1930s, a group of Caltech graduate students were booted off campus after blowing up (part of!) their building during a rocket test gone awry. Unwilling to give up on the joy of semi-controlled explosions, the students and a few of their friends headed into the San Gabriel Mountains. They picked a deserted gully -- Arroyo Seco -- ...

2 days, 17 hours ago
Views: 227 • Comments: 0
Tweets: 0 • Rating: 2
iossarian
Drug Companies Want Your Money
Two thematically-related stories on the BBC at the moment: UK drug company Glaxo 'paid bribes to Polish doctors' UK drug company GlaxoSmithKline is facing a criminal investigation in Poland for allegedly bribing doctors, BBC Panorama has discovered. Tamiflu: Millions wasted on flu drug, claims major report Hundreds of millions of pounds may have been wasted on a drug for flu that works no better ...

2 days, 23 hours ago
Views: 246 • Comments: 0
Tweets: 8 • Rating: 0
steve_davis
Skyline Pigeon
Your text to link...

5 days, 4 hours ago
Views: 271 • Comments: 2
Tweets: 0 • Rating: 4
 Frank says:

Here's one for mother.