Tariq Taha Abu Al-Azm — an Egyptian infantry officer who was also released by Mursi along with Al-Kashif — has been accused by the U.S. of carrying out that bombing. He had been captured along with a cell of 27 Egyptian terrorists and one Tunisian in Nasr City.
Egyptian police revealed an email sent by Al-Kashif to Ayman Zawahiri which discussed terror training and weapons smuggling in Libya. The Egyptian prosecutor’s office is reported to have said the following about Al-Azm and Al-Kashif:
Their leader, the first accused of the group and first suspect, is Tariq Taha Abu Al-Azm. The second accused is Mohammed Jamal Abdo (Al-Kashif), who sent the letter.
According to the police report, Al-Azm was in charge, not Al-Kashif. Al-Azm is a potential embarrassment to the United States. He received military training in the United States, perhaps contributing to the design of the operation at Benghazi. Another video allegedly depicted the June 6th attack, believed to have been carried out by Al-Azm himself. Al-Azm was also a senior officer at an air force base in Egypt; he was later accused of attempting to destroy American barges coming through the Suez Canal during the Iraq war.
Like Mursi, Al-Azm’s group wanted the release of the blind sheikh. Was Benghazi a botched kidnapping operation? Ransom as a tactic is part of Ansar Al-Sharia’s charter, according to Almogaz News. Witnesses have said it was obvious Stevens was the target of the attackers.
In the charges being prepared against him, Mursi has been implicated in the kidnapping of soldiers (Complaint 3790).
To this day, English-language reports seem to steer clear of implicating Ansar al-Sharia’s Egyptian branch in the Benghazi attack. At a recent House Joint Subcommittee hearing, Daveed Gartenstein-Ross made a distinction without a difference when asked a question about Ansar al-Sharia in general; he wouldn’t even admit that it was a “terrorist organization”:
It’s a known Jihadist organization. In a number of countries, they’re not actually engaged in terrorism on the ground, but they make clear they are in line with Salafi Jihadists ideals.
Aaron Zelin also seemed willing to diminish Ansar al-Sharia’s involvement. Contrary to Gartenstein-Ross’ claim, Ansar Al-Sharia is a terrorist group, and is in fact al-Qaeda itself. Countless Arabic sources and terrorism experts confirm the name change was intended to keep al-Qaeda under the radar so that when the U.S. would eventually declare war on Ansar al-Sharia, it could be spun as a war on Sharia itself. Osama bin Laden reportedly requested the name change in a message found on his computer after he was killed.
According to Hanein — a website dedicated to supporting terrorism — “Ansar al-Sharia includes members of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Salafist and Jihadist without distinction.” Yet in his testimony, when asked if there was any evidence that the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt may have been involved in the Benghazi attacks, Gartenstein-Ross stated:
I know of absolutely no information suggesting that.
Marjan Salem is the leader of the Ansar Al-Sharia Egypt branch. Libyan intelligence claims he was a key conspirator; he was released from prison after Hosni Mubarak’s fall. The Wall Street Journal reported on sources who claimed Salem was directing terrorists to Al-Kashif’s Jamal network, which lends further credibility to the Libyan intelligence document.
In an article appearing in the Long War Journal, Thomas Joscelyn wrote that Al-Kashif signed a document expressing solidarity with Ansar al-Sharia founder Ahmed ‘Ashoush and Mohammed al Zawahiri, a prominent voice in the group. Joscelyn also wrote:
U.S. officials think that Mohammed al Zawahiri put Jamal in touch with Ayman al Zawahiri, the emir of al-Qaeda, who also happens to be Mohammed’s older brother.
With a connection between Jamal, the younger Zawahiri, and ‘Ashoush established, Joscelyn included a screen shot in which Marjan and ‘Ashoush are seated side by side in an al-Qaeda video.
Another article from Joscelyn reported that Al-Kashif was a top commander in Egyptian Islamic Jihad (EIJ). EIJ merged with al-Qaeda in 2001. In written testimony for a hearing which was ultimately canceled, Jocelyn wrote:
Ansar al Sharia Egypt is led by Egyptian Islamic Jihad (EIJ) leaders who have remained loyal to al Qaeda emir Ayman al Zawahiri.
The only thing left to tie Al-Kashif to Ansar al-Sharia Egypt would be a relationship with Zawahiri. Joscelyn closes this loop in his unheard testimony:
Zawahiri communicated with one of his Egyptian followers, Muhammad Jamal al Kashef, in 2011 and 2012.
It would be rational to assume that Al-Kashif is a leader within Ansar al-Sharia Egypt, since he was a commander with EIJ, which merged with al-Qaeda. Ayman Zawahiri thus leads all the Ansar al-Sharia branches, and therefore Ansar Al-Sharia and al-Qaeda are synonymous.
Ansar Al-Sharia is comprised of devout Mursi loyalists. According to Youm7, allegiance to Mursi was pledged on the Ansar Al-Sharia Facebook page. It listed several people they threatened to assassinate for Mursi’s sake.