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Fri Sep 14, 2012, 01:32 PM

Blowback in Benghazi: Attack Linked to Regime Change Operations in Libya and Syria

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 [was] 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. [Stevens] 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 [1] 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).” [2]

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.” [3]

(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

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Reply Blowback in Benghazi: Attack Linked to Regime Change Operations in Libya and Syria (Original post)
leveymg Sep 2012 OP
ProSense Sep 2012 #1
leveymg Sep 2012 #2
ProSense Sep 2012 #3
leveymg Sep 2012 #4
brentspeak Sep 2012 #11
ProSense Sep 2012 #16
sabrina 1 Sep 2012 #21
chill_wind Sep 2012 #5
malaise Sep 2012 #6
KoKo Sep 2012 #7
Dokkie Sep 2012 #8
KoKo Sep 2012 #9
pampango Sep 2012 #10
leveymg Sep 2012 #12
ProSense Sep 2012 #15
leveymg Sep 2012 #22
countryjake Sep 2012 #13
HiPointDem Sep 2012 #14
WCGreen Sep 2012 #17
dkf Sep 2012 #18
DevonRex Sep 2012 #19
randome Sep 2012 #20

Response to leveymg (Original post)

Fri Sep 14, 2012, 01:38 PM

1. So this was an act of terrorism?

What about the other protests elsewhere in the region?

What about the embassy statement citing the film?

Way too many conspiracy theories being advanced.


Claims that President Obama disarmed embassy Marines turns out to be another cowardly wingnut lie
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/09/14/1131806/-Claims-that-President-Obama-disarmed-embassy-Marines-turns-out-to-be-another-cowardly-wingnut-lie

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Response to ProSense (Reply #1)

Fri Sep 14, 2012, 01:54 PM

2. There is no question this is an example of blowback.

This is no wing-nut conspiracy theory - everything here is factual and well-sourced. The conclusions follow from the premises.

Sorry - please criticize on the basis of facts, not muddy mislabeling.

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Response to leveymg (Reply #2)

Fri Sep 14, 2012, 02:05 PM

3. Here:

White House Spox: No Information To Suggest Libya Attack Was Pre-Planned

The White House has no information to suggest that the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, was pre-planned, Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters Friday. "The unrest we have seen around the region has been in reaction to a video that … many muslims find offensive," Carney said.

http://livewire.talkingpointsmemo.com/entry/white-house-spox-no-information-to-suggest-libya


"This is no wing-nut conspiracy theory - everything here is factual and well-sourced. The conclusions follow from the premises."

The wingnuts are pushing every conspiracy around this, and the neocons are pushing terrorism (http://www.democraticunderground.com/?com=view_post&forum=1002&pid=1343473)

All attempts to distract from the facts: The RW inflamed the situation, and Mitt has now effectively poured gasoline on the fire.

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Response to ProSense (Reply #3)

Fri Sep 14, 2012, 02:08 PM

4. That does not reflect the consensus view re: planning and coordination. But, that's not my point

in this diary. So, please let's not get sucked into some OT corner.

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Response to ProSense (Reply #3)

Sun Sep 16, 2012, 01:19 PM

11. Consulate Attack Preplanned, Libya's President Says



http://www.npr.org/2012/09/16/161228170/consulate-attack-preplanned-libya-s-president-says

Consulate Attack Preplanned, Libya's President Says

September 16, 2012

Libya's president says he believes al-Qaida is behind a deadly attack in eastern Libya that killed U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other U.S. staffers.

In an exclusive interview with NPR in Benghazi, President Mohammed el-Megarif says foreigners infiltrated Libya over the past few months, planned the attack and used Libyans to carry it out.

snip

Megarif says that over the past few months, foreigners took advantage of the security vacuum and flowed into the country from Mali and Algeria. I ask if this attack was over an anti-Muslim film that sparked violent protests across the Muslim world. He shakes his head.

"The idea that this criminal and cowardly act was a spontaneous protest that just spun out of control is completely unfounded and preposterous," he says. "We firmly believe that this was a precalculated, preplanned attack that was carried out specifically to attack the U.S. Consulate."


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Response to brentspeak (Reply #11)

Sun Sep 16, 2012, 03:05 PM

16. Right, this

"The attackers used the protesters outside the consulate as a cover, he says."

...couldn't be the Libyan President trying to implicate an opponent, right? Read on from the quote above, where he links the attacks to an extremist group that not recognize the new Libyan government.

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Response to ProSense (Reply #1)

Sun Sep 16, 2012, 03:28 PM

21. If you followed the Libyan 'revolution' and read any of the Wikileaks Libyan cables, this

would not be news to you. The 'revolution' was never about ordinary Libyans, at least after the first few weeks.

The presence of these extremists in Libya was well known and was in fact, part of a deal made by the US with Gadaffi in return for some of his demands to the West, that he would keep them under control. He was doing that anyhow, as they hated him as much as he hated them.

The fact that the US had people on the ground from so early on, was something they had denied back then, and reporters who published stories about it, were called Conspiracy Theorists.

People warned the West that aligning themselves with these extremists just to get rid of Gadaffi, would be regretted.

But as we knew even back then, the Libyan 'revolution' was not a grass roots uprising, it was from the beginning, backed by the West. These extremists were armed by the west and reports have been available for months now, that they have been moving into Syria bringing all those weapons with them.

The fact that they US, France, the UK, Qatar and who knows who else of our allies, were IN Libya, on the ground, supplying weapons and money to the opposition was denied WHILE it was happening, but later confirmed by Hillary Clinton when she explained how we 'fight our new wars'.

It's very sad that no one was apparently listening to these extremists, hypocrites too since the took the help they got from the West, but they said clearly from the beginning they did not want Western powers in Libya. To think they would be grateful for our help was naive at best.. They hate the West.

They have no interest, as Gadaffi did, of being accepted into the International Community. And they do not want any secular governments in Muslim countries.

Drone strikes in Libya will only exacerbate the situation. We never should have been involved there to begin with.

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Response to leveymg (Original post)

Sat Sep 15, 2012, 10:25 AM

5. Thank you, leveymg

K & R.

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Response to leveymg (Original post)

Sat Sep 15, 2012, 10:28 AM

6. Excellent post - bookmarked

Thanks leveymg

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Response to leveymg (Original post)

Sat Sep 15, 2012, 11:05 AM

7. Thanks for pulling this all together...

Good read... K&R

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Response to leveymg (Original post)

Sat Sep 15, 2012, 02:45 PM

8. Kinda what I suspected really happened

 

But instead of those dastardly rebels killing him, I thought maybe it was the Libyan fighters (aka Gaddafi supporters) that did the killing as a revenge for inciting the whole rebellion that destroyed their country. Think we going to learn from this and withhold our support for the Syrian rebels after this?

Btw I have video of the So called Free Syria Army capturing, torturing and then beheading an innocent civilian. PM if you wanna see it

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Response to leveymg (Original post)

Sun Sep 16, 2012, 12:41 PM

9. another Kick..

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Response to leveymg (Original post)

Sun Sep 16, 2012, 01:09 PM

10. Sounds like the terrorists in Libya are Sunni Muslims. Not sure why they would be supportive of

Assad's fight to hold onto power in a majority Sunni country like Syria. I thought Sunni terrorists were fighting on the side of the opposition to Assad since he is not a Sunni.

These fighters need to get their act together. Sunni fighters are combating Assad's forces in Syria, then attacking Americans in Libya to protest efforts to deal with Assad?

Also sounds like terrorists have been based in eastern Libya for years during Gaddafi's reign. I hope that the new government has more success establishing control in the area over the course of the next few years. It always seems to take the governments resulting from successful revolutions a while to establish security forces after dismantling a dictator's security apparatus.

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Response to pampango (Reply #10)

Sun Sep 16, 2012, 01:39 PM

12. The Libyan Jihadis are Sunnis, fighting to bring down the Assad (Shi'ia) regime in Syria

There's no evidence the attack on the US Consulate in Benghazi is in protest against the US role against Assad - it is in spite of it, and that is what is particularly shocking to the State Dept and others in the USG who have been pushing both regime change operations. But, they really shouldn't be surprised. There is the clear recent example of 9/11.

What a lot of Americans don't seem to understand is that the US continued to run covert operations against the Russians and other targets using Sunni terrorists after Afghanistan. US covert operators coordinated Jihadi terrorist groups including what we now call al-Qaeda in Bosnia and Kosovo, and it is alleged in Chechnya, right up through 9/11. About three-quarters of the original 9/11 hijackers had been involved in operations in Bosnia, Kosovo or Chechnya.

With the more recent US regime-change operations in Libya and Syria, we are apparently back in business with various militant Jihadists and Salaafists (subscribers to the Wahabi branch of Sunni Islam sponsored by Saudi Arabia) that are indistinguishable in their beliefs, hatreds, and use of terrorism in holy wars from al-Qaeda. After we used them to overthrow Ghadafi, Eastern Libya has become a safe area where the various militant and al-Qaeda affiliates use for recruitment, for training, and as a staging area for overseas operations. The US hasn't used drones against known al-Qaeda groups and locations in Eastern Libya, unlike Yemen, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Many of these "foreign fighter" groups are then sent into Syria with the acknowledged assistance of the US. But, despite the personal relationship which Amb. Stevens cultivated with many of them, the hatred of the US among the militants was there all the time. This was an instance of blowback from a covert operation where some US officials miscalculated terrorists, and it blew back on us, just like on 9/11.

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Response to leveymg (Reply #12)

Sun Sep 16, 2012, 03:00 PM

15. This is weird

With the more recent US regime-change operations in Libya and Syria, we are apparently back in business with various militant Jihadists and Salaafists (subscribers to the Wahabi branch of Sunni Islam sponsored by Saudi Arabia) that are indistinguishable in their beliefs, hatreds, and use of terrorism in holy wars from al-Qaeda. After we used them to overthrow Ghadafi, Eastern Libya has become a safe area where the various militant and al-Qaeda affiliates use for recruitment, for training, and as a staging area for overseas operations. The US hasn't used drones against known al-Qaeda groups and locations in Eastern Libya, unlike Yemen, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Many of these "foreign fighter" groups are then sent into Syria with the acknowledged assistance of the US. But, despite the personal relationship which Amb. Stevens cultivated with many of them, the hatred of the US among the militants was there all the time. This was an instance of blowback from a covert operation where some US officials miscalculated terrorists, and it blew back on us, just like on 9/11.


It almost seems like you're arguing in favor of drone strikes. Still, the bigger point you seem to be making is that this was caused by U.S. government miscalculation.

That's really far fetched. It seems like an argument attempting to say that ousting Ghadafi was not a good idea, an argument trying to claim that the events in Libya were wrong. Really?

I mean, despite the the Libyan President's claim today, his point runs completely counter to the notion that this was related to fighters used in the removal of Ghadafi a year ago.

Libyan President: Attacks Were Planned By Foreigners

Libyan President Mohamed Magariaf said the attacks earlier this week on a U.S. consulate in Benghazi were planned largely by foreigners in Libya in an interview on CBS' "Face the Nation" Sunday. "It was planned, definitely, it was planned by foreigners, by people who entered the country a few months ago, and they were planning this criminal act since their arrival," Magariaf said.

Magariaf said that a about 50 people, many of them foreigners, have been arrested in connection with the attacks that killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.

U.S. Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice said that there is not yet evidence that the attacks were premeditated in an appearance on "Face the Nation" after Magariaf.

"We do not have information at present that leads us to conclude that this was premeditated or preplanned," Rice said, adding that the best evidence they have is that the protests were "spontaneous."

"It looks like extremists elements joined in that effort with heavy weapons... and it spun from there into something much, much more violent," Rice said.

http://livewire.talkingpointsmemo.com/entry/libyan-president-attacks-were-planned-by-foreigners




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Response to ProSense (Reply #15)

Sun Sep 16, 2012, 03:29 PM

22. Magariaf said it was planned by foreign al-Qaeda, not that the attackers aren't Libyans. No contra-

diction. The fact is, the US hasn't even gone after the foreign al-Qaeda elements who we knew have come into the country. The conclusion drawn is that's because we created a safe haven for Jihadis in Eastern Libya after the overthrow of Gadhaffi, a policy that has just changed.

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Response to leveymg (Original post)

Sun Sep 16, 2012, 02:41 PM

13. Don't know how I missed this very logical analysis...

but I thank you for it!

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Response to leveymg (Original post)

Sun Sep 16, 2012, 02:58 PM

14. kr

 

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Response to leveymg (Original post)


Response to leveymg (Original post)

Sun Sep 16, 2012, 03:12 PM

18. Holy cow to this part...

 

"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. "




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Response to leveymg (Original post)

Sun Sep 16, 2012, 03:19 PM

19. It had nothing to do with ME terrorism...

other than trying to incite it and make it look much worse than it is.

The reaction and info you're reporting is exactly the reaction intended.

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Response to leveymg (Original post)

Sun Sep 16, 2012, 03:27 PM

20. So the entire Arab Spring was our fault, huh?

 

And since some insist that OWS inspired Arab Spring, then...

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