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News / Middle East http://www.voanews.com/content/syrian-rebels-step-up-efforts-to-get-anti-aircraft-missiles/1489899.html
Syrian Rebels Step Up Efforts to Get Anti-Aircraft Missiles
ON EDIT: Syrian opposition groups now have MANPADS. Video at 00:43, tall man with light blue pants in background row with SA-7.
August 16, 2012
ALEPPO, Syria - Syrian rebels are redoubling their efforts to acquire portable anti-aircraft missiles following government airstrikes on cities and towns in the north of the country. In the latest such strike, a Syrian Air Force jet bombed the rebel-held town of Azaz near the Turkish border, killing at least 50 people and wounding more than 100. Rebel commanders and activists say their buyers are now scouring the arms black markets in the region to get the shoulder-fired missiles that can counter the government airstrikes.
According to opposition activist “Tony” al-Taieb, who works with the rebel military council in Aleppo, representatives with cash from rich Syrian exiles are negotiating to buy the portable surface-to-air missiles, often called SAMS or MANPADS, for “Man-Portable-Air-Defense-System.”
“We need a no-fly zone and, failing that, anti-aircraft missiles,” says Zaher Sherkat, a 32-year-old commander of the rebel Abu Bakr brigade. The unit is now down to about 120 fighters after losing 20 men in the Aleppo fighting. “We have had 20 ‘martyrs’ from my brigade and about 30 wounded,” he says.
Despite press reports that rebels already have a small supply of MANPADS missiles, rebel commanders insist they don’t. And there have been no verified media reports of rebels firing such missiles.
The U.S. and other western governments sympathetic to the anti-Assad rebellion have so far declined to supply the rebels with portable anti-aircraft missiles. One reason cited is that such missiles, capable of shooting down a commercial aircraft, could fall into the hands of terrorists or foreign Jihadists now reported infiltrating into Syria. At a recent meeting with reporters in Washington, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Andrew Shapiro said the U.S. government hadn’t seen any evidence of MANPADS missiles getting into Syria from Libya, but acknowledged such a possibility was an area of concern. U.S. officials estimate that the late Moammar Gaddafi’s Libya may have had as many as 20,000 MANPADS missile systems and that several thousand of them turned up missing during the civil war there last year. Al-Taieb, the Aleppo opposition activist, would not talk about the possibility that Syrian rebels were buying some of the Libyan missiles.
“In the coming days we will have a consignment of MANPADS, Insha'Allah,” says al-Taieb. Asked whether if rebels managed to secure MANPADS, would they have trouble moving them into Turkey and then across the border, he responded: “The Turkish government turns a blind eye to some things but not others.”
Times of London: Shipload of Looted Libyan Missiles Arrives in Turkey on Way to Syria
Three days after the attack that killed the US Ambassador to Libya, The Times (UK) carried a story that a Libyan freighter loaded with stolen SA-7 antiaircraft missiles had offloaded at a Turkish port.
That September 14 article was captioned, “Syrian rebels squabble over weapons as biggest shipload arrives from Libya.” http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/news/world/middleeast/article3537770.ece
The report states that a Libyan ship, 'The Intisaar', docked at the Turkish port of Iskenderun after "papers stamped by the port authority” were issued to “the ship's captain, Omar Mousaeeb." Mousaeeb is identified as "a Libyan from Benghazi and the head of an organization called the Libyan National Council for Relief and Support," reportedly delivering supplies to armed opposition groups in Syria.
If accurate, that account provides some of the most solid, detailed evidence yet of how the Eastern Libyan city of Benghazi has become the North African transit hub for weapons and foreign fighters arriving for regime change operations in Syria.
This has been happening right under the nose of U.S. diplomatic and intelligence officers posted in Benghazi. The late Ambassador, Chris Andrews, arrived in Benghazi aboard a freighter in April 2011, and promptly set up shop coordinating Islamic militia groups in the overthrow of Muammar Gadhaffi’s regime.
According to the article, there were 400 tons of weapons, including an unspecified number of shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles, aboard the ship. This is merely the largest in a number of weapons shipments that have arrived in Turkey with the seeming coordination and complicity by Turkish authorities.
After the overthrow of the Libyan government, huge weapons stockpiles were looted and went unaccounted for, most of them falling into the hands of militant groups. The Times quotes Libyan officials that "more than 5,000 of the missiles had vanished." The article references an incident earlier this year in which a Libyan ship carrying "a large consignment of Libyan weapons, including PRGs and heavy ammunition," was seized by the Lebanese authorities in Lebanon’s northern territorial waters.
U.S. officials have repeatedly stated concern that advanced weaponry from Libyan stockpiles, such as MANPADS (portable missiles that can be used to shoot down airliners), have not been accounted for. It was reported that one of the reasons for the continued presence of the Ambassador and the large CIA station in Benghazi are concerns about militant groups outside of Libya obtaining these weapons. In fact, a retired Navy Seal who died with the Ambassador stated to ABC that he was in Libya on a mission to locate these missiles. See, ABC, The Blotter, American Killed in Libya was on Intel Mission to Track Weapons, http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/glen-doherty-navy-seal-killed-libya-intel-mission/story?id=17229037#.UGXzzq6QSEd
One of the Americans killed alongside Ambassador Christopher Stevens in an attack on a U.S. diplomatic mission in Libya Tuesday told ABC News before his death that he was working with the State Department on an intelligence mission to round up dangerous weapons in the war-torn nation.
Libyan rebels with SA-7 (2011)
Posted by leveymg | Sun Sep 30, 2012, 02:21 PM (0 replies)
According to yesterday’s NYT, the CIA station in Benghazi numbered a dozen Agency officers and contractors at the time of the attack that left the U.S. Ambassador and two other Americans killed. That is an unusually large CIA provincial post for a country where the US is not presently involved in hostilities. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/24/world/africa/attack-in-libya-was-major-blow-to-cia-efforts.html?pagewanted=all
The forced evacuation of the Benghazi post was called “a catastrophic intelligence loss,” by one American official interviewed who has served in Libya.
Why did the CIA have such a large presence in that Eastern Libyan city which has long been the center of radical Salafi and Jihadi terrorist groups in Libya? The answer lies only partly in surveillance. There is also the role of the United States in providing equipment, training and coordination to Libyans for Jihad operations against the Shi’ia-dominated regime in Syria, regime change activities publicly admitted to by the Obama Administration in early April after a leak revealed that Blackwater mercenaries have been carrying out that role. See, http://security.blogs.cnn.com/2012/04/02/u-s-aid-to-syrian-opposition-includes-specialized-communications-equipment/; http://articles.businessinsider.com/2012-03-20/news/31212864_1_stratfor-provides-syrian-opposition-regime-change#ixzz27OhmbKHi
Unexpectedly Large CIA Presence in Benghazi
The New York Times provides some additional insight into the CIA contingent that operated secretly out of a compound near the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi:
Within months of the start of Libyan revolution in February 2011, the C.I.A. began building a meaningful but covert presence in Benghazi, a locus of the rebel efforts to oust the government of Colonel Qaddafi.
As was previously reported, the late Ambassador Stevens arrived covertly in Benghazi in April of last year and immediately set to work coordinating rebel groups in the area in efforts that ultimately led to the overthrow of the Gadhafi regime in August. Until the night of the September 11th attack this year, Stevens worked closely with various militant groups, and apparently felt comfortable operating openly in the area without a substantial security detail.
Given the size and established presence of the US diplomatic and intelligence presence in Eastern Libya, and the apparently close relationship with militant groups there, it is particularly shocking that a Libyan Islamicist group with links to al-Qaeda was able to mount with complete surprise what most now see as a well-planned and coordinated military attack. Officials have accused al Qaeda in the Magreb of carrying out the surprise assault on the Consulate and the nearby CIA compound to which consular staff evacuated, which itself came under lethal and well-aimed attack. The effect of this has reportedly derailed some US policy planning, and “has dealt the Central Intelligence Agency a major setback in its intelligence-gathering efforts at a time of increasing instability in the North African nation.”
Leak Revealed Former Blackwater Director, US Congresswoman, and Romney Advisor Involved with Libyan Jihadists and Syrian Regime Change Operation
In March, a leak of emails from Stratfor, a private international security firm revealed that “Mr. Smith,” a former director of Blackwater, had a role in organizing the Libyan opposition in early 2011, and was subsequently sent later last year to contact Syrian rebels in Turkey. See, http://articles.businessinsider.com/2012-03-20/news/31212864_1_stratfor-provides-syrian-opposition-regime-change#ixzz27POcdOi8
As we will see, below, practically all those publicly identified in this curious episode have suddenly exited from sight, including an 8-term US Congresswoman.
The last emails about Smith were sent on December 13, shortly before the Stratfor mail servers were hacked. In one email, Mr. Burton (head of counterrorism at the company) summarizes the activities of Mr. Smith and some of his associates in Syria late last year: http://english.al-akhbar.com/gi-files/5331882got-moment-syria-757-478-7383-post-i-think
"**Source and Dr. Walid Phares are getting air cover from Congresswoman Myrick to engage Syrian opposition in Turkey (non-MB and non-Qatari) on a fact finding mission for Congress.
** The true mission is how they can help in regime change.
** Source intends to offer his services to help protect the opposition members, like he had underway in Libya."
As was subsequently determined, Jamie F. Smith, the chief executive of the security firm SCG International, is a former director of Blackwater. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SCG_International_Risk
SCG emails reveal that in 2011 its operatives were involved in training the Libyan resistance and were allegedly on the scene in August to confirm the killing of Gadaffi .(doc-id 3980511) http://english.al-akhbar.com/gi-files/3980511more-insight-libya-confirmation-gadhafi-dead-ly700
In an early email sent to Stratfor on February 11, 2011, Smith talked-up the company's intelligence gathering and said his own "background is CIA and our company is comprised of former DOD , CIA and former law enforcement personnel.” (doc-id 257534) http://english.al-akhbar.com/gi-files/257534thank-you-please-do-not-publish-email-your-website
“We provide services for those same groups in the form of training, security and information collection," Smith stated to Stratfor (doc-id 5441475) If these emails are accurate, that places privatized CIA operatives in the thick of regime change operations in Syria, as well as Libya, long before these activities were acknowledged by the Obama Administration. Public exposure of covert operations is never good for business, and one must also bear in mind that for every intelligence failure there is usually an expendable scapegoat or someone claiming to be one.
Easily dissolved shell companies are like bathroom tissue in this game. Erik Prince, himself, made just that claim before he changed Blackwater’s business name to Xe (later spun off Academi), packed his bags, and moved his headquarters to Dubai. It is not surprising, therefore, that Mr. Smith’s company is also exiting stage right. The future of SCG International has been called into question by the fraud conviction of Mr Smith and the $9.5 million judgement against Mr. Smith and SCG as detailed here: http://hamptonroads.com/2012/07/despite-fraud-air-force-kept-using-va-beach-contractor
Smith wrote in a December 13, 2011 email to Stratfor’s VP for counter-terrorism, Fred Burton. Smith claimed that he "and Walid Phares were getting air cover from Congresswoman Myrick to engage Syrian opposition in Turkey (non-MB and non-Qatari) on a fact finding mission for Congress.” In early February this year, Myrich an 8-term Republican incumbent suddenly and without real explanation announced she would not run again. Interesting coincidence, certainly. http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/02/07/1062548/-NC-09-Republican-Rep-Sue-Myrick-will-retire
Burton is a former Deputy Chief of the Department of State's counterterrorism division for the Diplomatic Security Service (DSS). Blackwater/Xe, which now operates under the name Academi, recently received part of a multi-billion dollar State Department contract to provide the same types of services as SCG. Foggy Bottom and Langley can be peculiarly forgiving.
Walid Phares, named by the source as part of the “fact finding team,” is a Lebanese-American citizen and has served as a co-chair to Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s Middle East advisory group.
A profile of Walid Phares published in Salon details Phares’ history with right-wing militias during the Lebanese civil war and subsequent activist role in conservative U.S. foreign policy circles. http://www.salon.com/2011/10/07/romneys_scary_middle_east_advisor/
Benghazi Attack Latest in a Long History of Blowback to CIA from Operations in Libya
The Agency has had a long and checquered history in its dealings with Libyan terrorists and strongmen, and its own US citizen go-betweens. On Saturday, Sept. 22, Edwin P. Wilson, a retired CIA officer, died. He was 84. Wilson was branded a traitor and convicted of shipping arms to Libya, had his conviction overturned after he served 22 years in prison
In 2004, a federal Judge overturned the conviction finding that the prosecution had knowingly submitted a false affidavit that omitted nearly 90 meetings Wilson had with CIA superiors during the period he allegedly had gone rogue, selling 40,000 pounds of plastic explosives to Libyans, according to the Washington Post obituary: http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/obituaries/edwin-wilson-former-cia-operative-convicted-of-selling-arms-to-libya-dies-at-84/2012/09/22/3f97da2e-04f1-11e2-9132-f2750cd65f97_story.html
Wilson who set up front companies abroad for the CIA and posed as a rich American businessman was convicted in 1983 for shipping 20 tons of C-4 plastic explosives to Libya. At trial, he said he did it to ingratiate himself with the Libyan government at the CIA’s request.
A federal judge threw out that conviction in 2003, saying the government failed to correct information about Wilson’s service to the CIA that it admitted internally was false.
It was never fully revealed what happened to the 20 tons of C4, but at the time Libya was providing safe refuge to a number of terrorist groups, such as Abu Nidal, who like Gadhafi, performed services for both sides during the long twilight of the Cold War and always welcomed cash payment.
So, in other words, the court found, the US Government really was feeding tons of plastic explosives to terrorists in Libya through CIA cutouts in the 1980s. Gadhaffi himself emerged from semi-pariah status after he cooperated with the Bush Administration in execution of its torture and rendition program.
That seems to have established a tradition of such things with regard to Libya, given that Libya also provides many of the Jihadi fighters from its eastern region around Benghazi that have been showing up in Syria, blowing up things there, as they also did in Iraq while we occupied that country.
Libya Long a Center of Terrorists for Hire
This brings us forward to the sudden death of Ambassador Stevens two short weeks ago. It is obvious that Chris Stevens was an extraordinarily brave and devoted Foreign Service Officer who died in service to his country. But, he also was the victim of another tradition, the less noble practice of the United States of employing terrorists against what is declared within in Washington to be our enemies. We saw that in the Balkins and breakaway Muslim TransCausasus regions of the former Southern Soviet Union during the 1990s, when US Special Forces and covert operators worked side-by-side with Osama bin Laden and other Saudi paramilitary to drive out the Russian and Serbian remnants, and took control over the enormous energy riches of that region. Among the US Special Forces operators in Kosovo in 1998 was a Navy Seal named Erik Prince, who soon thereafter resigned from the military and founded Blackwater, the history of which is intrinsically tied to al-Qaeda. http://www.dailykos.com/story/2009/12/04/810764/-Erik-Prince-American-Bin-Laden-CIA-Asset-Money-Gunmen
Chris Stevens was of course aware of our alliance with bin Laden and al-Qaeda in the Balkins, as he was of the history of Libyan Jihadis when he arrived on a Greek freighter in Benghazi in April, 2011 to organize these groups into an effective fighting force to depose Muammar Ghadafi. If Mr. Smith is to be believed, he was there at the same time, running a Blackwater spin-off operation as part of the same regime change operation. Neither went in without knowing they were dealing with terrorists. As Vice Consul in 2008, Stevens had catalogued the Jihadi militants in Eastern Libya, including the groups then sending large numbers of Libyan suicide bombers working with al-Qaeda to wage war on the Shi’ia and U.S. forces in Iraq.
Just as history brought Erik Prince and Osama bin Laden together in Kosovo, so too did events conspire to produce blowback in Benghazi. We can only hope that the bloodbath being brewed up in Syria by these same terrorists and mercenaries does not again explode in our well-scrubbed hands.
(Please see, Part 1, Blowback in Benghazi, Attack Linked to Regime Change Operations in Libya and Syria, http://www.democraticunderground.com/10021343355 , crossposted at http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/09/14/1131854/-Blowback-in-Benghazi-Attack-Linked-to-Regime-Change-Operations-in-Libya-and-Syria )
Posted by leveymg | Tue Sep 25, 2012, 08:36 AM (4 replies)
Boy, those live fire exercises in the Golan must have been quite a show.
Posted by leveymg | Wed Sep 19, 2012, 02:37 PM (1 replies)
Questions have been asked why Ambassador Chris Stevens had such a small security entourage when he visited Benghazi in Eastern Libya. The answer to that is that Stevens believed that he was safe because he routinely worked with Libyan militant groups in the area. He was the US coordinator in Bengahzi during the uprising against Ghadaffi, coordinating the same groups of Libyan Jihadi groups that now provide much of the manpower to overthrow the Syrian regime.
Some background: The Ambassador arrived clandestinely in Benghazi in April 2011 on a Greek freighter and took up residence in that city to coordinate the US role in the anti-Ghadafi uprising centered in that city. It was his presence there, to a major degree, that ultimately convinced President Obama to okay US involvement in the NATO airstrikes that destroyed the regime's armored column approaching that city.
In a statement of condolence issued by the Libyan Ambassador to the United States, Stevens "served as the principal liaison of the U.S. to the opposition in Libya and he helped coordinate the U.S. response" to events on the ground, including efforts to rebuild and integrate radical Islamists into the government. http://news.blogs.cnn.com/2012/09/12/u-s-ambassador-to-libya-3-others-killed-in-rocket-attack-witness-says/
Francis Townsend, a ranking Bush White House counterterrorism advisor was close to Stevens, CNN reported: http://security.blogs.cnn.com/2012/09/12/townsend-libya-suffers-fragile-security/?iref=obinsite
She counted Stevens as a friend and said she spent time with him just two weeks ago.
"I was in Tripoli on a business trip," she said. "He was not only a friend, but I think to give our viewers some context, Chris Stevens had a particular sort of affinity for Benghazi," she said. "He in D.C. in 2007 when I was in the White House...He was there with me when I traveled to speak to Moammar Ghadafi. knew the rebels in Benghazi. He felt very comfortable there.
Prior to his appointment as US Ambassador to Libya, he has been posted in virtually every major Mideast country involved in the current civil war in Syria. From the Wiki:
Stevens joined the United States Foreign Service in 1991. His previous overseas assignments included: Deputy Principal officer and Political Section Chief in Jerusalem; political officer in Damascus; consular/political officer in Cairo; and consular/economic officer in Riyadh. In Washington, Ambassador Stevens served as Director of the Office of Multilateral Nuclear and Security Affairs; Pearson Fellow with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee; special assistant to the Under Secretary for Political Affairs; Iran desk officer; and staff assistant in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs.
He served twice previously in Libya, as the Deputy Chief of Mission from 2007 to 2009 and as Special Representative to the National Transitional Council from March 2011 to November 2011 during the Libyan revolution. He arrived in Tripoli in May 2012 as the U.S. Ambassador to Libya.
The assault on the US Consulate in Benghazi appears to have been well-coordinated involving experienced fighters. Initial accounts point to an al-Qaeda affiliated group that has carried out other armed attacks on western targets in the area, as having been responsible.
(CNN) -- A pro-al Qaeda group responsible for a previous armed assault on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi is the chief suspect in Tuesday's attack that killed the U.S. ambassador to Libya, sources tracking militant Islamist groups in eastern Libya say.
They also note that the attack immediately followed a call from al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri for revenge for the death in June of a senior Libyan member of the terror group Abu Yahya al-Libi.
The group suspected to be behind the assault -- the Imprisoned Omar Abdul Rahman Brigades -- first surfaced in May, when it claimed responsibility for an attack on the International Red Cross office in Benghazi. The following month the group claimed responsibility for detonating an explosive device outside the U.S. Consulate, and later released a video of that attack.
Read more: http://www.wptv.com/dpp/news/world/omar-abdul-rahman-brigades-ambassador-christopher-stevens-targeted-by-pro-al-qaeda-group#ixzz26IvGSLtY
That group, however, is only a fragment of a far larger conglomeration of Jihadi terrorist groups that have originate in, and openly train and operate, in eastern Libya. Little has apparently been done to suppress these groups, which have been up until now free of the sort of armed drone attacks against similar groups in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Yemen. Ironically, Stevens catalogued a number of al-Qaeda groups in a 2008 State Dept. cable he put together at the time many of these groups were still actively carrying out their holy war against US and Shi'ia targets in Iraq.
CNN also reports:
Derna has for years been a recruiting ground for al Qaeda. In his 2008 cable, Stephens described the area as "a wellspring of Libyan foreign fighters" for al Qaeda in Iraq, and outlined how high youth unemployment, discrimination by the Gadhafi regime and the influence of veteran Libyan jihadists from Afghanistan all played a role in radicalizing a new generation.
In recent months, hardline Salafists have increasingly asserted themselves in eastern Libya. In June hundreds of fighters wielding AK-47s and black Islamist banners converged on Benghazi to call for the imposition of sharia law. This spring al-Zawahiri's associate Azuz was confident enough to address a large gathering in the town square of Derna, an online video of which has been seen by CNN.
Collectively, some of the Salafist and jihadist elements in eastern Libya began to become known as Ansar al Sharia, or "Partisans of Sharia." According to reports, eyewitnesses have claimed Ansar al Sharia was responsible for organizing the demonstration outside the U.S. Consulate. But Benotman told CNN Ansar al Sharia is not really a grouping at all but rather a term applied to an amorphous coalition of Islamist and Salafist groups in eastern Libya with no leadership structure.
The Libyan Province which contains Benghazi and Derna was noted in a 2007 West Point study of the origin of the majority of suicide bombers in Iraq.
A December 2007 West Point study examining the background of foreign guerrilla fighters — jihadis or mujahedin, including suicide bombers — crossing the Syrian border into Iraq during the 2006-2007 timeframe, under the auspices of the international terrorist organization Al Qaeda. This study is based on a mass of about 600 Al Qaeda personnel files which were captured by US forces in the fall of 2007. The resulting study permits us to make important findings about the mentality and belief structures of the northeastern Libyan population that is furnishing the basis for the rebellion, permitting important conclusions about the political nature of the anti-Qaddafi revolt in these areas.
The most striking finding which emerges from the West Point study is that the corridor which goes from Benghazi to Tobruk, passing through the city of Darnah (also transliterated as Derna) them represents one of the greatest concentrations of jihadi terrorists to be found anywhere in the world, and by some measures can be regarded as the leading source of suicide bombers anywhere on the planet. Darnah, with one terrorist fighter sent into Iraq to kill Americans for every 1,000 to 1,500 persons of population, emerges as suicide bomber heaven, easily surpassing the closest competitor, which was Riyad, Saudi Arabia.
According to West Point authors Joseph Felter and Brian Fishman, Saudi Arabia took first place as regards absolute numbers of jihadis sent to combat the United States and other coalition members in Iraq during the time frame in question. Libya, a country less than one fourth as populous, took second place. Saudi Arabia sent 41% of the fighters. According to Felter and Fishman, “Libya was the next most common country of origin, with 18.8% (112) of the fighters listing their nationality stating they hailed from Libya.” Other much larger countries were far behind: “Syria, Yemen, and Algeria were the next most common origin countries with 8.2% (49), 8.1% (48), and 7.2% (43), respectively. Moroccans accounted for 6.1% (36) of the records and Jordanians 1.9% (11).”
This means that almost one fifth of the foreign fighters entering Iraq across the Syrian border came from Libya, a country of just over 6 million people. A higher proportion of Libyans were interested in fighting in Iraq than any other country contributing mujahedin. Felter and Fishman point out: “Almost 19 percent of the fighters in the Sinjar Records came from Libya alone. Furthermore, Libya contributed far more fighters per capita than any other nationality in the Sinjar Records, including Saudi Arabia.”
(1) Joseph Felter and Brian Fishman, “Al Qa’ida’s Foreign Fighter in Iraq: A First Look at the Sinjar Records,” (West Point, NY: Harmony Project, Combating Terrorism Center, Department of Social Sciences, US Military Academy, December 2007). Cited as West Point Study.
(2) Op. cit.
(3) West Point Study, pp. 8-9.
Also, see, Daya Gamage, “Libyan rebellion has radical Islamist fervor: Benghazi link to Islamic militancy, U.S. Military Document Reveals,” Asian Tribune, March 17, 2011. http://www.asiantribune.com/news/2011/03/17/libyan-rebellion-has-radical-islamist-fervor-benghazi-link-islamic-militancyus-milit
Indeed, eastern Libya is a primary recruiting ground for Jihadi terrorists being drawn into the U.S. and Saudi/GCC regime change operation in Syria. The unfortunate death of the Ambassador Wednesday can be viewed as yet another instance of the sort of blowback that occurred on a larger scale 11 years earlier when US intelligence allowed al Qaeda cell members -- who had fought in Bosnia and Kosovo in operations coordinated by U.S. intelligence -- into the U.S. and failed to stop them before they carried the killings of thousands of Americans. Our continued involvement in the bloody religious war in Syria, and our apparent failure to learn from repeated fatal mistakes in cooperating with terrorists in covert wars, virtually assures that this will not be the last such instance of blowback.
Cross-posted with comments at DailyKos: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/09/14/1131854/-Blowback-in-Benghazi-Attack-Linked-to-Regime-Change-Operations-in-Libya-and-Syria?showAll=yes
Please also see related post, http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/09/13/1131254/-Coordinated-Attack-on-Ambassador-and-US-Troops-Points-to-Safe-Haven-in-Libya-for-al-Qaeda?showAll=yes
Posted by leveymg | Fri Sep 14, 2012, 01:32 PM (22 replies)
The attack which took the lives of the American Ambassador in Libya was far larger and better organized than first revealed, according to emerging reports, and points to the fact that Al Qaeda forces that have been training in Libya for operations against Syria have been given a safe zone free of US drone attacks.
According to Reuters, US forces attempting to mount a helicopter rescue operation ran into fierce, accurate ambush as they arrived in Benghazi. Two U.S. soldiers were killed.
BENGHAZI, Libya (Reuters) - A squad of U.S. troops dispatched by helicopter across the Libyan desert to rescue besieged diplomats from Benghazi on Wednesday ran into a fierce overnight ambush that left a further two Americans dead, Libyan officials told Reuters.
Miscommunication which understated the number of American survivors awaiting rescue - there were 37, nearly four times as many as the Libyan commander expected - also meant survivors and rescuers found themselves short of transport to escape this second battle, delaying an eventual dawn break for the airport.
Captain Fathi al-Obeidi, whose special operations unit was ordered by Libya's authorities to meet an eight-man force at Benghazi airport, said that after his men and the U.S. squad had found the American survivors who had evacuated the blazing consulate, the ostensibly secret location in an isolated villa came under an intense and highly accurate mortar barrage.
"I really believe that this attack was planned," he said, adding to suggestions by other Libyan officials that at least some of the hostility towards the Americans was the work of experienced combatants. "The accuracy with which the mortars hit us was too good for any regular revolutionaries."
Meanwhile, a CNN article points out that the US has not been mounting antiterrorism operations, such as drone strikes, in area of Libya known to be a staging ground for Al Qaeda-linked groups. Libya is the source of many of the Jihadist foreign fighters operating to topple the regime in Syria, which is dominated by Shi’ia Muslims.
The US has created safe areas in several countries where Jihadis have free range of operation, and apparently, aren't attacked by armed drones. These are the same countries where we have participated in regime change operations.
This, of course, has created a dilemma, and presents the same problem US intelligence faced in its operations with Saudi-backed militant groups, including al-Qaeda, in Bosnia and Kosovo. Given, if we were to take out al-Qaeda and linked groups inside Libya, we would be destroying the very same Saudi-GCC financed militias that we now help in our effort to overthrow the Syrian regime:
Libyan and Western security officials tell CNN that al Qaeda has taken advantage of a security vacuum to build up a presence in eastern Libya.
A senior Libyan official told CNN in June that the United States had flown surveillance missions with drones over suspected jihadist training camps in eastern Libya. The official said that, to the best of his knowledge, they had not been used to fire missiles at militant training camps in the area.
Another Libyan official told CNN at the same time that five radical Islamist militant commanders were operating in the Derna area, with 200 to 300 men under their command in camps in the area. Ironically, Christopher Stephens -- the U.S. ambassador killed in Tuesday's attack -- had written extensively about the rise of Salafist factions in and around Derna in a 2008 diplomatic cable.
As CNN has previously reported, one of militant commanders, according to several sources, is Abdulbasit Azuz, a long-time associate of al-Zawahiri. Azuz was dispatched by al-Zawahiri to Libya from Pakistan's tribal areas in the spring of 2011 to create a foothold for al Qaeda in Libya, the sources say.
Azuz is a veteran jihadist who fought the Soviet-backed government in Afghanistan in the early 1990s, according to several sources.
Read more: http://www.wptv.com/dpp/news/world/omar-abdul-rahman-brigades-ambassador-christopher-stevens-targeted-by-pro-al-qaeda-group#ixzz26LWt3Yw8
Cross-posted with a number of comments and new material in the thread at DailyKos: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/09/13/1131254/-Coordinated-Attack-on-Ambassador-and-US-Troops-Points-to-Safe-Haven-in-Libya-for-al-Qaeda?showAll=yes
Posted by leveymg | Thu Sep 13, 2012, 08:13 AM (2 replies)
Thank you for your concern. We can all see the sky is falling. Now, please go tell someone else somewhere else what they can and can't say here.
Response to post: "Stop the defeatist threads, non-members view this site, and it can could lower voter's enthusiasm."
Posted by leveymg | Wed Sep 5, 2012, 11:40 AM (2 replies)
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