The U.S. military had a multitude of forces in the region surrounding Libya when terrorists attacked the Special Mission in Benghazi and murdered four Americans, according to an unclassified Navy map obtained by Judicial Watch this week.
The map features the Navy fleet positions in the North Africa Area of Responsibility (AOR) on September 11, 2012, the day Islamic jihadists raided the U.S. Special Mission in Benghazi. Ambassador Christopher Stevens, the first diplomat to be killed overseas in decades, and three other Americans were murdered in the violent ambush.
Dozens of vessels were stationed in the region on that day, including two aircraft carriers (Dwight D. Eisenhower and Enterprise), four amphibious ships, 13 destroyers, three cruisers and more than a dozen other smaller Navy boats as well as a command ship. Carriers are warships, the powerhouse of the naval fleet with a full-length flight deck for aircraft operations. During the Benghazi attack, two carriers were based to the east in the Arabian Sea, the Navy map shows.
Two amphibious assault ships (Iwo Jima and Gunston Hill) were situated to the east in the Gulf of Oman and one (New York) was in the Gulf of Aden, the map shows.
A little under two years ago, Philip Hammond, the Defence Secretary, urged British businessmen to begin “packing their suitcases” and to fly to Libya to share in the reconstruction of the country and exploit an anticipated boom in natural resources.
Yet now Libya has almost entirely stopped producing oil as the government loses control of much of the country to militia fighters.
Mutinying security men have taken over oil ports on the Mediterranean and are seeking to sell crude oil on the black market. Ali Zeidan, Libya’s Prime Minister, has threatened to “bomb from the air and the sea” any oil tanker trying to pick up the illicit oil from the oil terminal guards, who are mostly former rebels who overthrew Muammar Gaddafi and have been on strike over low pay and alleged government corruption since July.
As world attention focused on the coup in Egypt and the poison gas attack in Syria over the past two months, Libya has plunged unnoticed into its worst political and economic crisis since the defeat of Gaddafi two years ago. Government authority is disintegrating in all parts of the country putting in doubt claims by American, British and French politicians that Nato’s military action in Libya in 2011 was an outstanding example of a successful foreign military intervention which should be repeated in Syria.
In an escalating crisis little regarded hitherto outside the oil markets, output of Libya’s prized high-quality crude oil has plunged from 1.4 million barrels a day earlier this year to just 160,000 barrels a day now. Despite threats to use military force to retake the oil ports, the government in Tripoli has been unable to move effectively against striking guards and mutinous military units that are linked to secessionist forces in the east of the country.
Libyans are increasingly at the mercy of militias which act outside the law. Popular protests against militiamen have been met with gunfire; 31 demonstrators were shot dead and many others wounded as they protested outside the barracks of “the Libyan Shield Brigade” in the eastern capital Benghazi in June.
Though the Nato intervention against Gaddafi was justified as a humanitarian response to the threat that Gaddafi’s tanks would slaughter dissidents in Benghazi, the international community has ignored the escalating violence. The foreign media, which once filled the hotels of Benghazi and Tripoli, have likewise paid little attention to the near collapse of the central government.
The strikers in the eastern region Cyrenaica, which contains most of Libya’s oil, are part of a broader movement seeking more autonomy and blaming the government for spending oil revenues in the west of the country. Foreigners have mostly fled Benghazi since the American ambassador, Chris Stevens, was murdered in the US consulate by jihadi militiamen last September. Violence has worsened since then with Libya’s military prosecutor Colonel Yussef Ali al-Asseifar, in charge of investigating assassinations of politicians, soldiers and journalists, himself assassinated by a bomb in his car on 29 August.
Rule by local militias is also spreading anarchy around the capital. Ethnic Berbers, whose militia led the assault on Tripoli in 2011, temporarily took over the parliament building in Tripoli. The New York-based Human Rights Watch has called for an independent investigation into the violent crushing of a prison mutiny in Tripoli on 26 August in which 500 prisoners had been on hunger strike. The hunger strikers were demanding that they be taken before a prosecutor or formally charged since many had been held without charge for two years.
The government called on the Supreme Security Committee, made up of former anti-Gaddafi militiamen nominally under the control of the interior ministry, to restore order. At least 19 prisoners received gunshot shrapnel wounds, with one inmate saying “they were shooting directly at us through the metal bars”. There have been several mass prison escapes this year in Libya including 1,200 escaping from a prison after a riot in Benghazi in July.
The Interior Minister, Mohammed al-Sheikh, resigned last month in frustration at being unable to do his job, saying in a memo sent to Mr Zeidan that he blamed him for failing to build up the army and the police. He accused the government, which is largely dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood, of being weak and dependent on tribal support. Other critics point out that a war between two Libyan tribes, the Zawiya and the Wirrshifana, is going on just 15 miles from the Prime Minister’s office.
Diplomats have come under attack in Tripoli with the EU ambassador’s convoy ambushed outside the Corinthia hotel on the waterfront. A bomb also wrecked the French embassy.
One of the many failings of the post-Gaddafi government is its inability to revive the moribund economy. Libya is wholly dependent on its oil and gas revenues and without these may not be able to pay its civil servants. Sliman Qajam, a member of the parliamentary energy committee, told Bloomberg that “the government is running on its reserves. If the situation doesn’t improve, it won’t be able to pay salaries by the end of the year”.
Via Washington Secrets:
Just minutes after 35 jihadists crashed through the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, nearly one year ago, the facility got word to the State Department, FBI and Pentagon that terrorists were attacking, according to a forthcoming book that provides the fullest review of the assault to date.
In “Under Fire, the Untold Story of the Attack in Benghazi,” it is revealed that an unidentified security official in the Benghazi compound protecting Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens messaged the U.S. embassy in Tripoli: “Benghazi under fire, terrorist attack.” Stevens and three others died that night.
Twenty-five minutes after it began, the operation center at State received an electronic cable announcing the attack, according to authors Fred Burton, a former State Diplomatic Security agent and Samuel Katz, an author and expert on international special operations and counterterrorism.
They lied, and did nothing while Americans died
U.S. officials gave instructions for Benghazi Medical Center to use a “John Doe” pseudonym on the death certificate of Ambassador Christopher Stevens after he died of asphyxiation in the Sept. 11, 2012 terrorist attacks on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya. That’s according to a U.S. official speaking on condition of anonymity because the official isn’t authorized to speak publicly on the matter. The reason for the pseudonym, says the official, was to avoid drawing undue attention to the importance of the victim as Americans rushed to figure out how to recover Stevens’ body and return it to the U.S.
The official provided the most complete accounting yet of Stevens’ whereabouts and passing in the eight and a half months since his death.
According to the official, U.S. officials aren’t certain to this day whether Stevens was still alive when local Libyans made cell phone video recordings of his body being carried or dragged from the U.S. mission, possibly by looters. And they still don’t know exactly who transported him to the Benghazi Medical Center where they say medical personnel attempted resuscitation, unsuccessfully, for about 40 minutes (90 minutes, according to published accounts from a Libyan doctor). When pieced together with previously provided information, this is how the search for Stevens is said to have unfolded, according to the official:
A Library of Congress report that received almost no media attention detailed – one month before the deadly Sept. 11 attack in Benghazi – how al-Qaida established a major base of operations in Libya in the aftermath of the U.S.-NATO campaign that deposed Muammar Gadhafi and his secular regime.
The report documented al-Qaida and affiliated organizations were establishing terrorist training camps and pushing Taliban-style Islamic law in Libya while the new, Western-backed Libyan government incorporated jihadists into its militias
The document named Benghazi as a new central headquarters for al-Qaida activities.
“Al-Qaeda adherents in Libya used the 2011 Revolution to establish well-armed, well-trained, and combat-experienced militias,” stated the report.
The report also said a terrorist released from the U.S. Guantanamo Bay detention camp in Cuba became the leader of the al-Qaida-affiliate Ansar Al-Sharia in Libya, which espoused anti-Western ideology.
The Martyrs of 17 February Brigade, which was hired by the State Department to protect the U.S. facility in Benghazi, operates under the Ansar-Al-Sharia banner.
The document said scores of Islamic extremists were freed from Libyan prison after the U.S.-supported revolution in Libya.
The August 2012 document was prepared by the Federal Research Division of the Library of Congress under an inter-agency agreement with the Combating Terrorism Technical Support Office’s Irregular Warfare Support Program. It may shed new light on the terrorism threat in Libya leading up to the assaults on the U.S. facility and CIA annex in Benghazi.
Despite the growing al-Qaida activity, the U.S. facilities in Benghazi remained poorly protected.
While al-Qaida and other extremist groups were establishing their new headquarters in Libya, the Obama administration reportedly was eager to declare the U.S.-NATO campaign there a victory.
According to testimony by the No. 2 U.S. official in Tripoli, who served under murdered Ambassador Christopher Stevens, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton wanted the Benghazi facility turned into a permanent post ahead of her scheduled December 2012 visit to the country. A looming funding deadline may have been the reason that Stevens went to the compound the day of the attacks, the whistleblower charged.
Terrorist training camps
The report shows how various al-Qaida groups, including Al-Qaida Senior Leadership (AQSL) and Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), have sought to take advantage of the downfall of Gadhafi to “create a safe haven and possibly to extend their area of operations to Libya.”
AQSL in Pakistan issued strategic guidance to followers in Libya and elsewhere to take advantage of the Libyan rebellion. Specifically, instructions were given to gather weapons, establish training camps, establish an Islamic state, and institute Shariah, the document relates.
At the time of the report’s release, al-Qaida’s clandestine network in Libya was “in an expansion phase, running training camps and media campaigns on social-media platforms.”
The Libyan revolution “may have created an environment conducive to jihad and empowered the large and active community of Libyan jihadists, which is known to be well connected to international jihad,” the document stated.
The Library of Congress report said Ansar al-Sharia, led by Sufian Ben Qhumu, a former Guantanamo detainee, has increasingly embodied al-Qaida’s presence in Libya.
Qhumu, formerly a driver for Osama bin Laden, was released by the U.S. in 2007 and was transferred to a Libyan prison where he remained until being freed in a 2010 amnesty deal.
The report noted AQSL’s strategic goals remain “restoration of the caliphate, instituting sharia, and ending the Western presence in Muslim lands.”
“Al-Qaeda’s primary goal in Libya is to establish an Islamic emirate as part of its overall objective to reestablish the caliphate,” the report said.
“The al-Qaeda clandestine network in Libya is most likely espousing a Taliban-like religious orientation that calls for strict adherence to the practice and principles of Islam as interpreted by radical clerics.”
From June 7 to 8, 2012, there was a gathering of groups supporting Shariah openly held at Liberation Square in Benghazi. The event was hosted by Ansar al-Sharia and reportedly attended by at least 15 militias, including al-Qaida-affiliated organizations.
Libyan government and al-Qaida
The report noted the July 2012 elections in Libya “failed to generate a strong and unified national leadership that could address the chronic insecurity posed by the multiplicity of local militias, which al-Qaeda’s clandestine network has probably infiltrated.”
Further, the Western-backed National Transitional Council in Libya “never fully controlled the rebel movement.”
Following the 2012 elections, the Libyan army and police have reconstituted their ranks “by incorporating whole militias regardless of the militants’ background.”
Hillary eager to declare victory
While al-Qaida and other Islamic groups gained major ground in Libya following U.S. intervention there, Clinton worked plans for a symbolic victory in Benghazi, according to congressional testimony by Gregory Hicks, the former State Department deputy chief of mission and charge’ d’affairs who was in Libya at the time of the attack.
Under questioning from Rep. James Lankford, R-Okla., Hicks explained: “According to [Ambassador] Chris [Stevens], Secretary Clinton wanted Benghazi converted into a permanent constituent post. Timing for this decision was important. Chris needed to report before Sept. 30, the end of the fiscal year, on the physical and the political and security environment in Benghazi to support an action memo to convert Benghazi from a temporary facility to a permanent facility.”
Hicks revealed the directive came from the State Department Office of Near Eastern Affairs, headed by Acting Assistant Secretary Beth Jones. Money was available to be transferred to Benghazi from a State Department fund set aside for Iraq available, provided the funds transfer had been done by Sept. 30.
He further testified that in May 2012, during a meeting Clinton, Stevens promised he would give priority to making sure the U.S. facility at Benghazi was transformed into a permanent constituent post.
Hicks also explained Stevens wanted to make a symbolic gesture to the people of Benghazi that the United States “stood behind their dream of establishing a new democracy.”
Additionally, he wanted to have the Benghazi complex upgraded to a permanent constituent post, so Clinton could make the announcement in her planned visit to Libya before the end of 2012.
Toward the end of the hearing, the chairman, Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., asked Hicks to summarize his testimony on why Stevens went to Benghazi.
“At least one of the reasons Ambassador Stevens was in Benghazi was to further the secretary’s wish that that post become a permanent constituent post and that he was also there because we understood the secretary intended to visit Tripoli later in the year,” Hicks reiterated. “We hoped that she would be able to announce to the Libyan people the establishment of a permanent constituent post in Benghazi at that time.”
Clinton and the U.S. diplomatic staff in Libya reportedly were aware of the terrorist camps in Benghazi. Fox News reported last year the U.S. mission in Benghazi convened an “emergency meeting” in August 2012 to discuss the training camps.
The news network obtained a government cable addressed to Clinton’s office stating the U.S. diplomats in Libya were briefed “on the location of approximately ten Islamist militias and AQ training camps within Benghazi… these groups ran the spectrum from Islamist militias, such as the QRF Brigade and Ansar al-Sharia, to ‘Takfirist thugs.'”
Why were so many stand down orders given? Why was an effort, made to save those Americans? Was there something there to hide? We keep hearing about weapons being traded. But it all comes down to one question for me. Why? Bob Owens looks at why some of the military options were not taken
Writing in The American Thinker, Jonathan Moseley exposes both former Defense Secretary Gates and current Defense Secretary Panetta as liars attempting to protect a feckless administration:
Elite U.S. troops were completely capable of saving Ambassador Chris Stevens during the Benghazi Consulate attacks on September 11, 2012. Elements of the highly specialized Combatant Commanders In-Extremis (CIF) units are always on alert, on forward deployment, ready to respond. Their job description is to hit the ground in 3 to 5 hours. CIF elements are ready to engage in active combat anywhere in their region, 3 to 5 hours after the call.
Leon Panetta, Secretary of Defense at the time, either misled the U.S. Congress or was incompetent. Panetta testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee on February 7, 2013 that the U.S. military could not have responded in less than 9 to 12 hours.
Obama’s first secretary of defense, Robert Gates, told CBS’sFace the Nation on May 12, 2013 that “[w]e don’t have a ready force standing by” in that region.
But we absolutely do “have a ready force standing by” to reach any trouble spot in a few hours. Insider reports previously revealed that CIF elements were training in Croatia and could have been in Benghazi in three and a half hours.
Although rotating out of the United States, some CIF elements are always forward-deployed within each military command region, always on stand-by. Their training includes expertise within each local region. Some of each region’s unit is always ready. They don’t need to pack. Being ready to go — immediately — is their job description. It’s the reason they exist.
Note that Moseley doesn’t even touch on the 100-strong Recon Marine force spinning up at Naval Air Station Sigonella roughly two hours away, nor the Special Forces team already in Libya at Tripoli that was ordered to stand down when they were attempting to board a flight to Benghazi after the initial attack.
There were at least three special operations or special operation capable units within four hours of Benghazi numbering more than 120 men, along with ground attack aircraft, allegedly including an AC-130 gunship that CIA Operator Ty Woods was attempting to lase targets for, believing it was an on-call asset… just another one that never showed up.
So, again, why? Why did we leave Americans to die? Incompetence? Fear of bringing on a bigger conflict? Fear of having weapons trading exposed? Whatever the reason, it is not good enough, because we, as a nation should NEVER abandon our own. And to those who would say no rescue mission would have done any good, consider what kind of hell two former SEALs brought on the terrorist attackers. Two SEALs that I would remind everyone were ordered to stand down. Men who were too patriotic to let fellow Americans die. If not for those men, more Americans would have died.