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NYT report: Benghazi attack was ‘fueled in large part’ by YouTube video

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By Doug Powers  •  December 29, 2013 12:02 PM

**Written by Doug Powers

Did the New York Times accidentally publish this story two and a half years too soon?

Months of investigation by The New York Times, centered on extensive interviews with Libyans in Benghazi who had direct knowledge of the attack there and its context, turned up no evidence that Al Qaeda or other international terrorist groups had any role in the assault. The attack was led, instead, by fighters who had benefited directly from NATO’s extensive air power and logistics support during the uprising against Colonel Qaddafi. And contrary to claims by some members of Congress, it was fueled in large part by anger at an American-made video denigrating Islam.

The White House of course doesn’t dispute the report, which only covers events on the ground in Libya and doesn’t delve into any Obama administration reaction to the attack, or lack thereof, or their apparent failure to address repeated security concerns from personnel in Benghazi which were voiced even before controversy erupted over the video.

The Times’ report says assertions that the YouTube video played no role in the attack were “claims by some members of Congress.” However, those claims were not isolated to U.S. Republicans. Last September, Libyan President Mohammed Magarief also said the YouTube video had nothing to do with the Benghazi attack:

ANN CURRY: Would you call the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi an act of terrorism?

LIBYAN PRESIDENT MOHAMMED MAGARIEF: I have no doubt about that, and it’s a pre-planned act of terrorism directed against American citizens.

CURRY: What is your evidence that it was a pre-planned act of terrorism?

MAGARIEF: Number one is choosing the date, 11th of September. It has all the significance. We take the facts about the way it was executed, you can see there’s enough proof that it is a pre-planned act of terrorism.
[...]
CURRY: Do you think movie had anything to do with the attack?

MAGARIEF: Not on this attack, it had nothing to do with this attack.

As for possible Al Qaeda involvement, also in September of last year, Hillary Clinton suggested the attack was the work of Al Qaeda or Al Qaeda affiliates:

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton suggested the deadly consulate attack in Libya involved the Al Qaeda affiliate in North Africa, going further than any other Obama administration official in acknowledging the assault was the work of hardened terrorists.

Clinton was speaking Wednesday to foreign leaders gathered at a meeting convened by U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon to address the threat of extremism in the region.

“Now with a larger safe haven and increased freedom to maneuver, terrorists are seeking to extend their reach and their networks in multiple directions,” Clinton told the group, according to a New York Times report. “And they are working with other violent extremists to undermine the democratic transitions under way in North Africa, as we tragically saw in Benghazi.”

It wasn’t the first time Clinton had referred to the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, as a terrorist attack. But her reference to the group Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb was notable, especially as President Obama still has yet to publicly refer to the attack as terrorism.

This is a hard-to-believe takeaway from the lengthy NYT story: The Benghazi attack began on September 11th, and that fact is pretty much coincidental.

Update: Then there’s this from Examiner.com:

Ironically, the New York Times reported in October, 2012,

“In the months leading up to the Sept. 11 attacks on the American diplomatic mission in Benghazi, the Obama administration received intelligence reports that Islamic extremist groups were operating training camps in the mountains near the Libyan city and that some of the fighters were ‘Al Qaeda-leaning,’ according to American and European officials.” [emphasis added]

Kirkpatrick does not mention this report, in which he was a contributor, in his article on Saturday.

Claims made by people reported as “American and European officials” in 2012 have been narrowed down to be the assertions of “some members of Congress” (Republicans) in 2013.

Much more here.

(h/t Ed Morrissey at Hot Air)

**Written by Doug Powers

Twitter @ThePowersThatBe

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