US knew about the terrorist threats around Benghazi

Washington Times:
Senior State Department, defense and intelligence officials were well aware that Benghazi and its surrounding area harbored al Qaeda-linked extremists long before the Sept. 11 terrorist attack on the U.S. Consulate in the eastern Libyan city.

Benghazi became famous last year as the birthplace of the revolution that swept Libyan strongman Moammar Gadhafi from power.

But in recent interviews with The Washington Times, several former high-level officials explained that eastern Libya was notorious in Washington’s counterterrorism community for more than a decade as a hub for jihadists leaving for or returning from insurgencies abroad.

The agencies’ long-standing knowledge about Islamic extremists in Benghazi raises questions about the level of security at the U.S. Consulate on Sept. 11, when heavily armed militants stormed the diplomatic mission and a CIA annex and killed U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, State Department officer Sean Smith, and former Navy SEALs Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty.

The officials pointed to the 2007 seizure by coalition forces in Iraq of a treasure trove of documents that highlighted the town of Darnah, just east of Benghazi, as one of the top destinations in the world from which foreign fighters were recruited to join al Qaeda’s insurgency against U.S. troops in Iraq.

In 2008, a secret cable from a U.S. diplomat in Libya, later posted by WikiLeaks, reported that many people in Darnah “take great pride” in their town’s public reputation as the source for such large numbers of foreign fighters and suicide bombers — “invariably referred to as ‘martyrs,’” the cable reads.

The association of Darnah and Benghazi with violent jihad goes back much further than the insurgency in Iraq, and predates even the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the U.S.

Eastern Libya was home to many Libyans who had left to join the first global jihadist insurgency — against the Soviets in Afghanistan in 1980s, said Aaron Y. Zelin, a scholar at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
There is much more.

The documents in the 2007 seizure were sent to West Point's Combating Terrorism Center for analysis.  But the information was no surprise to the Libyan government which had been fighting them for decades.  It makes you wonder why the US government was surprised by the attack.  It will be something else to ask Sec. Clinton about when she testifies about the Benghazi attack.


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