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”

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.

Jump to top

Create a PageThis 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.
Or... you can just click this button to open the Pages posting window right away.
Last updated: 2016-01-01 10:29 am PST
LGF User's Guide RSS Feeds Tweet

Help support Little Green Footballs!

Subscribe now for ad-free access!Register and sign in to a free LGF account before subscribing, and your ad-free access will be automatically enabled.

Donate with
PayPal
Square Cash Shop at amazon
as an LGF Associate!
Recent PagesClick to refresh
How Sigmund Freud Tried to Break and Remake His Fiancée The area in which Martha most urgently needed reeducation, Freud believed, was that of excessive regard for her own family. He had coveted its name before their engagement, but now the very illustriousness of Martha’s connections prompted a worry ...
Birth Control Works
6 hours, 37 minutes ago
Views: 308 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 1
Tweets: 0 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Comments: 0
: 0
Ten Sailors Missing After U.S. Warship, Tanker Collide Near Singapore SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Ten sailors are missing after a U.S. warship collided with an oil tanker east of Singapore before dawn on Monday, tearing a hole beneath the waterline and flooding compartments that include a crew sleeping area, the ...
Thanos
1 day, 11 hours ago
Views: 245 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 0
Tweets: 0 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Comments: 0
: 0
Why You Can’t Take a Flag to a National Cemetery Why You Can't Take a Flag to Arlington (or other national veteran cemeteries) Stars and Stripes, reprinting with permission an article from the Washington Post, explains why you cannot take a flag to Arlington National Cemetery (or any other ...
Anymouse 🌹
3 days, 18 hours ago
Views: 413 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 2
Tweets: 0 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Comments: 0
: 0
Another Democrat Starting Trump Impeachment Process Come on guys, get behind the bill. All of us. we should get behind this bill as it emerges as fast as we attacked the BCA. Following Donald Trump’s equivocating of white supremacists and those who oppose them in ...
Unshaken Defiance
5 days, 3 hours ago
Views: 625 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 0
Tweets: 0 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 1
Comments: 0
: 1
How Militias Became the Private Police for White Supremacists Magazine Guns to a protest? Clubs? We can not tolerate anti American militias. The bloody weekend in Charlottesville that began with several hundred chanting white supremacists on a torch-lit march will long be remembered for the searing image of a ...
Unshaken Defiance
5 days, 4 hours ago
Views: 637 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 0
Tweets: 0 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Comments: 0
: 0
Starting in 2018, Police Dogs Injured in the Line of Duty Can Be Transported by EMS to Veterinary Clinics ST. CLAIR COUNTY, IL – Ambulances are for people. It’s always been the law of the land. In Illinois, it'll soon be "almost always". Illinois Governor, Bruce Rauner, signed House Bill 2661, Tuesday. It will allow police dogs to ...
Birth Control Works
5 days, 7 hours ago
Views: 641 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 0
Tweets: 0 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Comments: 0
: 0
The New War on Birth Control - Pacific Standard Although it wasn't clear at the time, the attack on Phillips marked the beginning of a new anti-contraception movement—conceived in the U.S., but unfolding in Africa, where women's frustrations with the dearth of safe, effective family planning options are ...
Birth Control Works
5 days, 7 hours ago
Views: 684 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 1
Tweets: 1 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Comments: 0
: 0
M83 - Do It, Try It (David Wilson Video) M83 - Do It, Try It video by David Wilson. Following the video's premiere at Sundance Next Fest it is now available to watch online. The track is taken from M83's seventh studio album Junk, available to buy & ...
Thanos
5 days, 21 hours ago
Views: 562 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 0
Tweets: 0 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Comments: 0
: 0
Marvel’s the Defenders It’s all coming together. Learn about The Defenders from the stars themselves: Charlie Cox, Krysten Ritter, Mike Colter and Finn Jones. Marvel’s The Defenders premieres globally August 18, 2017, only on Netflix. Watch The Defenders on Netflix: netflix.com SUBSCRIBE: ...
Thanos
5 days, 21 hours ago
Views: 597 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 0
Tweets: 0 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Comments: 0
: 0
AG Madigan Issues Guidelines for Responding to Sexual Assault Crimes “We took a comprehensive look at why sexual assault survivors rarely report their crimes to law enforcement, and it was clear that our criminal justice system can and must respond, investigate and better support survivors,” Illinois Attorney General Lisa ...
Birth Control Works
6 days, 3 hours ago
Views: 551 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 0
Tweets: 0 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Comments: 0
: 0