Report: Benghazi Could Have Been Prevented if the US Hadn't 'Switched Sides in the War on Terror'
A group called the Citizens Commission on Benghazi has come out with a damning report on events and decisions that led up to the deadly attack in Benghazi, Libya that left four Americans dead. The commission, which is made up of former high-ranking US military officers, CIA insiders and think-tank fellows, gathered information on Benghazi across seven months. Their investigation included 85 Freedom of Information Act requests as well as contact with current officials who have direct knowledge of US actions during the months prior to the attack.
'The United States switched sides in the war on terror with what we did in Libya, knowingly facilitating the provision of weapons to known al-Qaeda militias and figures,' Clare Lopez, a member of the commission and a former CIA officer, told MailOnline.
She blamed the Obama administration for failing to stop half of a $1 billion United Arab Emirates arms shipment from reaching al-Qaeda-linked militants.
'Remember, these weapons that came into Benghazi were permitted to enter by our armed forces who were blockading the approaches from air and sea,' Lopez claimed. 'They were permitted to come in. ... [They] knew these weapons were coming in, and that was allowed..
'The intelligence community was part of that, the Department of State was part of that, and certainly that means that the top leadership of the United States, our national security leadership, and potentially Congress – if they were briefed on this – also knew about this.'
The weapons were intended for Gaddafi but allowed by the U.S. to flow to his Islamist opposition.
The commission also says that Islamists attacked the US facility in Benghazi on September 11, 2012, not intending to kill US Ambassador Christopher Steven, but to kidnap him. The attackers intended to grab him and use him to bargain for the release of "Blind Sheikh" Omar Abdul Rahman, the mastermind of the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center in New York.
There is evidence to back up that claim. In the days prior to the attack in Benghazi, unrest rose up in Cairo, Egypt. While the US embassy in Cairo blamed the uprising on a YouTube movie, the real driver behind it was a coalition of Islamist groups. Those groups were not protesting a movie at all. According to the warning they published in Egyptian media, they had a specific demand:
“The group, which consists of many members from al-Qaeda, called [especially] for the quick release of the jihadi [mujahid] sheikh, Omar Abdul Rahman [the "Blind Sheikh"], whom they described as a scholar and jihadi who sacrificed his life for the Egyptian Umma, who was ignored by the Mubarak regime, and [President] Morsi is refusing to intervene on his behalf and release him, despite promising that he would. The Islamic Group has threatened to burn the U.S. Embassy in Cairo with those in it, and taking hostage those who remain [alive], unless the Blind Sheikh is immediately released.”
Islamists did attack the US embassy in Cairo on September 11, 2012 -- the same day of the attack in Benghazi, Libya. The attackers breached the embassy's walls and replaced the American flag with the black flag of Islam.
The citizens' Benghazi commission, which is supported by Accuracy in Media, also criticizes the Obama administration for its handling of Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi. According to the commission, Gaddafi offered to abdicate shortly after the Islamist uprising against him began. He had two conditions: Permission to continue fighting al Qaeda in Libya, and a lifting of sanctions against him and his family. The Obama administration, according to the commission, was unwilling to help broker a peaceful exit, and instead allowed $500 million of weapons intended for Gaddafi to make its way into the hands of the Islamists. Those Islamists toppled Gaddafi and later, assaulted the US facility in Benghazi.
The Obama administration insists that no US forces could have responded to the assault in Benghazi in time to save the Americans there. The commission says that that is untrue.
[Commission member, Admiral James] Lyons also said U.S. claims that it lacked the resources to mount a counterattack in time to save lives is false.
'I'm going to tell you that's not true,' he said. 'We had a 130-man unit of forces at Sigonella [AFB in Italy]. They were ready to go.'
'The flight time from Sigonella to Benghazi is roughly an hour.'
Perhaps most explosively, the commission alleges that the Obama administration's attempt to blame the attack on a YouTube movie was coordinated with the Muslim Brotherhood, which was coordinating Islamist action in Egypt and Libya.
The commission wants a congressional select committee appointed to investigate the Benghazi attack.