Before getting to the documentary, the news headline of the day so far is that the Benghazi sacking may have been part of a larger campaign to drive the U.S. out of eastern Libya. Fox reports on that, building its case on the word of two military sources and the hundreds of attacks that led up to the deadly 9-11-12 assault.
The Sept. 11 attack was preceded by hundreds of security incidents in Libya over the past year. Several of them involved western targets in the Benghazi area, which could indicate a pattern.
The attack on the U.S. Consulate in June 6 with an improvised explosive device, planted in the ledge of the perimeter wall, was described as a probing attack to measure the response. This incident, coupled with attacks on the International Red Cross and an RPG attack on the British ambassador’s convoy — after which the British withdrew — suggest a pattern to drive western influence from the region.
Further, it fits with a broader effort by the Al Qaeda affiliate and the militant group Ansar al-Sharia to establish an Islamic state in eastern Libya. Libyan authorities are identifying Ansar al-Sharia leader Ahmed Abu Khattala as the commander of the attack, though Fox News was told the U.S. intelligence community is not going quite that far. Rather, Khattala is on the short list of suspects and was described as “one to watch.”
As noted earlier, the New York Times found him hanging out in the local posh hotel sipping a hipster drink. The idea that the 9-11-12 attack was part of a larger campaign squares up well with that August 2012 Library of Congress report in which Ansar al Sharia is described as taking a leading role in the attempt to Islamicize post-Gaddafi Libya. Drive the west out, humiliate America, be the strong horse — that seems to be the Islamist path to power in Libya. They were succeeding too. Lt. Col. Andrew Wood testified that by the time of the Benghazi attack, the American flag was the last western one flying in the city. The British and the Red Cross had already been driven out by attacks. The U.S. consulate, as insecure as it was, became a sort of forward outpost and weapons depot for the British mission. The weapons that the prime suspect in the attack claims to have found inside the compound may well have been the stored British arms. They’re surely now in the hands of the Islamist militias, along with who knows what other material and information they were able to scoop up the night of the attack and in the three weeks that followed between that night and the FBI’s arrival.
Now, to the documentary, which was produced by ConservARTive.com. It shows several things that I don’t think have been seen elsewhere. One of those is what may be Ambassador Christopher Stevens’ final interview. It was taped sometime in June 2012, apparently after the probing attack on the wall of the consulate. That attack was mounted to test the U.S. response. The U.S. evidently did not respond at all. The Islamists probably expected the U.S. to beef up security, but when no new security arrived, they probably took that as a green light to proceed.