U.S. officials confirmed Tuesday that a Libyan man, Ahmed Abu Khattalah, has been charged with playing a significant role in last year’s attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi.
He is the first person known to be charged in connection with the attack, though officials say other charges have also been filed.
He has been described as the founder of Ansar al-Sharia, a Libyan extremist group. Investigators have said for months that they believe he was at the U.S. consulate during the attack.
The charges were filed under seal in Washington, D.C. late last month. Authorities have not said whether he has been arrested in Libya.
The cat’s out of the bag. During Libya’s rebellion, the White House OK’ed the arming of rebels fighting the Gaddafi regime to Arab partners in the Gulf, and rumors have abounded ever since over the identity of some of the recipients of weapons sent by U.S. allies. Now, a story in the Wednesday’s New York Times claims to have confirmed rumors that some of the arms supplied by Qatar and the United Arab Emirates ended up in the hands of Libyan Salafi groups. There’s no evidence these arms were actually used in the attack on the Benghazi consulate on Sept. 11, but the Times report will fuel speculation. It may also help explain why the Obama Administration has been dancing around the Benghazi incident as if were a grenade with the pin pulled.
It seems perfectly possible to me that some weapons sent from the Gulf could have found their way to Ansar al-Sharia, the group currently blamed for the Benghazi attack. That creates a problem for the White House. If such a link surfaces, the Obama Administration may try to blame Gulf Allies. Those countries, in turn, can be expected to say the White House ignored warnings the weapons might fall into the wrong hands.
The intelligence services of the Gulf countries are not capable of directly orchestrating large-scale covert action programs, and in particular, large-scale arms transfers. Because of their limited capacity, they themselves are obliged to outsource the process, which, as it turns out, means handing money and arms to Salafi groups headquartered in the Gulf. Those Salafis are more than happy to take the money, and to use it to arm allied fighters in distant lands.
The key question, though is this: Why did the Administration think that outsourcing covert action to the Gulf Arabs would have a better outcome in the Arab Spring than was the case the last time the United States outsourced covert action to them? That would be when the Reagan Administration armed Afghan jihadists fighting the Russian occupation — most arms and support provided by the Arabs went to Afghan Salafis, not to mention the Arab volunteers who later become the core of al-Qaeda. Are memories truly that short?
Which brings us to Syria.
Yemen’s air force killed at least 15 al Qaeda-linked fighters in the south including some of their leaders, a government source said on Saturday, while the U.N. refugee agency warned of a new wave of internally displaced people.
The air strikes late on Friday targeted Bayda, about 267 km (166 miles) southeast of the capital Sanaa. Militants have expanded their operations in southern Yemen during months of turmoil that eventually unseated the president.
“A number of vehicles and cars used by al Qaeda were also destroyed,” the source said. The militants were carrying equipment and weapons to launch attacks in Bayda governorate, he said.
Residents said the fighter planes had raided the western outskirts of Bayda town where the Ansar al-Sharia (Partisans of Islamic Law) militants, who have been fighting Yemen’s security forces since mid-2011, had been based.
Invoking Hitler, Allen West Accuses Obama Of ‘Conscious, Nefarious, And Malicious Intent’ To Destroy Israel
Like many Republicans, Rep. Allen West (R-FL) hyperventilated about President Obama’s non-controversial Middle East speech last week, in which Obama called for a two-state solution based on Israel’s 1967 borders, with some land swaps. In West’s typical hyperbole, he said the speech was the “beginning of the end” of Israel and mysteriously accused Obama of giving Islamists a “Pavlovian-style” reward. But in a statement quoted by the Broward County New Times yesterday, West took things further than any Republican lawmaker yet, invoking Hitler and accusing Obama of “nefarious” intent toward Jews: