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‘Al-Qaida’ worked at U.S. Benghazi mission

October 28, 2013

TEL AVIV – A security contractor who worked inside the U.S. special mission  in Benghazi told “60 Minutes” he repeatedly warned his superiors of concerns  about the intentions of an armed militia hired by the State Department to  protect the doomed compound.

The contractor said his protests were ignored. His comments add more mystery  to why the U.S. government hired the militia.

Not reported in the “60 Minutes” segment aired Sunday is that the State  Department’s Accountability Review Board report on Benghazi confirmed the  militia was the February 17 Brigade, which provided external security to the  attacked Benghazi U.S. compound.

The February 17 Brigade is part of the al-Qaida-linked Ansar Al-Sharia, a  group that advocates the strict implementation of Islamic law in Libya and  elsewhere, and took credit for previous attacks against other diplomatic posts  in Benghazi.

Aaron  Klein’s “Impeachable Offenses: The Case to Remove Barack Obama from Office” is  available, autographed, at WND’s Superstore

Ansar al-Sharia initially used Internet forums and social media to claim  responsibility for the Sept. 11, 2012, Benghazi attack. Later, a spokesman for  the group denied responsibility.

Witnesses told reporters they saw vehicles with the group’s logo at the scene  of the Sept. 11 attack and that gunmen fighting at the compound had stated they  were part of Ansar al-Sharia.

Some witnesses said they saw Ahmed Abu Khattala, a commander of Ansar  al-Sharia, leading the attack. Contacted by news media, Khattala denied he was  at the scene.

Now, Morgan Jones, a pseudonym used by a contractor hired to provide security  at the U.S. Benghazi mission, has told “60 Minutes” of his deep concerns about  the armed militia hired by the State Department to work at the compound.

“I was saying, ‘These guys are no good. You need to – you need to get ‘em out  of here,’” he told “60 Minutes” interviewer Lara Logan.

Logan stated: “You also kept saying, ‘If this place is attacked these guys  are not going to stand and fight?’”

Jones replied: “Yeah, I used to say it all the time. Yeah, in the end I got  quite bored of hearing my own voice saying it.”

Benghazi facility ‘unlike any other’

Jones is not alone is his concerns.

The State Department’s Libya desk officer, Brian Papanu, recently stated the  U.S. facility in Benghazi was unique in almost every aspect as far as security  was concerned.

“Well, Benghazi was definitely unique in almost every – I can’t think of a  mission similar to this ever, and definitely in recent history,” Papanu  stated.

The diplomat’s quotes were contained in a 100-page  report on the Benghazi attack released last month by the House Oversight and  Government Reform Committee.

Informed Middle Eastern security officials, meanwhile, have told WND on  multiple occasions that the Benghazi mission was a headquarters for coordinating  aid, including weapons distribution, to jihadist-led rebels.

Regarding the unusual nature of the U.S. facility in Benghazi, the House  report stated: “Documents and testimony obtained by the Committee during the  course of its investigation show that the ad hoc facility in Benghazi, rather  than being an example of expeditionary diplomacy, was instead an expedient way  to maintain a diplomatic presence in a dangerous place.

“The State Department was operating a temporary residential facility in a  violent and unstable environment without adequate U.S. and host nation security  support.”

Lee Lohman, executive director of the Near Eastern Affairs Bureau, further  testified: [R]emember that Benghazi, I’m not sure that we – I’m trying to think  back. I mean, we’ve evacuated from any number of places, but I’m not sure we’ve  ever gone into something in such an expeditionary way as this by ourselves  without having military along with us.”

The unusual lack of adequate security may prompt further questions about the  activities taking place inside the U.S. facility. Any large security presence  would have drawn more attention to the shabby residential facility.

Perhaps even more perplexing than the lack of a significant U.S. security  team in such a threat environment was the presence of the Ansar al-Sharia-allied  February 17 Brigade.

More evidence of ambassador’s secret activities

According to the Middle Eastern security sources who have spoken to WND,  arming efforts at the U.S. facility shifted focus to aiding the insurgency  targeting President Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria after the fall of Libyan  dictator Muammar Gadhafi.

Two weeks after the Sept. 11, 2012, Benghazi attack, WND  broke the story that murdered U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens himself  played a central role in arming rebels and recruiting jihadists to fight Assad,  according to Egyptian security officials.

In November 2012, Middle Eastern security sources further described both the  U.S. mission and nearby CIA annex in Benghazi as the main intelligence and  planning center for U.S. aid to the rebels, which was being coordinated with  Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

Many rebel fighters are openly members of terrorist organizations, including  al-Qaida.

The information may help determine what motivated the deadly attacks in  Benghazi.

In June, a Libyan weapons dealer from the February 17 Brigade told Reuters he  has helped ship weapons from Benghazi to the rebels fighting in Syria.

The detailed account may provide more circumstantial evidence the U.S.  Benghazi mission was secretly involved in procuring and shipping weapons to the  Syrian opposition before the attack.

In the interview  with Reuters, Libyan warlord Abdul Basit Haroun declared he was behind some  of the biggest shipments of weapons from Libya to Syria. Most of the weapons  were sent to Turkey, where they were then smuggled into neighboring Syria, he  said.

Haroun explained he sent a massive weapons shipment from the port in Benghazi  in August 2012, days before the attack on the U.S. mission. The weapons were  smuggled into Syria aboard a Libyan ship that landed in Turkey purportedly to  deliver humanitarian aid.

Ismail Salabi, a commander of the February 17 Brigade, told Reuters that  Haroun was a member of the Brigade until he quit to form his own brigade.

Coordinating with rebels

Haroun told Reuters he runs the weapons smuggling operation with an  associate, who helps him coordinate about a dozen people in Libyan cities  collecting weapons for Syria.

In May, WND  reported the U.S. Benghazi compound was involved in weapons collection  efforts.

In a largely unnoticed speech to a think tank seven months before the  Benghazi attack, a top State Department official described an unprecedented  multi-million-dollar U.S. effort to secure anti-aircraft weapons in Libya after  the fall of Gadhafi’s regime.

The official, Andrew J. Shapiro, assistant secretary of state for the Bureau  of Political-Military Affairs, said U.S. experts were fully coordinating the  collection efforts with the Libyan opposition.

He said the efforts were taking place in Benghazi, where a leading U.S.  expert was deployed.

In January, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton confirmed the efforts  when she told Congress the CIA was leading a “concerted effort to try to track  down and find and recover … MANPADS” looted from Gadhafi’s stockpiles.

Haroun did not mention any U.S. involvement in his weapons dealings.

However, last March the  New York Times reported the CIA had worked with rebel commanders to  coordinate the shipment of arms to the Syrian rebels since early 2012.

Last year, Business  Insider alleged a connection between Stevens and a reported September  shipment of SA-7 MANPADS and rocket-propelled grenades from Benghazi to Syria  through Turkey.

Syrian rebels then reportedly began shooting down Syrian military helicopters  with SA-7s.

Stevens’ last meeting on the night of the Benghazi attack was with Turkish  Consul General Ali Sait Akin.

One source told Fox News that Stevens was in Benghazi “to negotiate a weapons  transfer in an effort to get SA-7 missiles out of the hands of Libya-based  extremists.”

‘Largest weapons shipment’

In October 2012, Fox News reported the Libyan-flagged vessel Al Entisar,  which means “The Victory,” was received in the Turkish port of Iskenderun, 35  miles from the Syrian border, just five days before Stevens was killed.

The shipment, disguised as humanitarian aid, was described as the largest  consignment of weapons headed for Syria’s rebels.

Fox News reported the shipment “may have some link to the Sept. 11 terror  attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi.”

The shipment seems to be the one described by Haroun in his Reuters  article.

Both Haroun and his associate described an August 2012 shipment with weapons  hidden among about 460 metric tons of aid destined for Syrian refugees.

A recent U.N. report appears to confirm that weapons were hidden in the Al  Entisar.

A U.N. panel found that the loading port for the shipment was Benghazi, that  the exporter was “a relief organization based in Benghazi” and the consignee was  the same Islamic foundation based in Turkey that Haroun told Reuters had helped  with documentation.

With additional research by Joshua Klein.

Credit To: Aaron Klein / WND.COM

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