Commentary Magazine


Libya Attack Pre-Planned By Terror Group?

Yesterday I flagged a USA Today report that this week’s Cairo embassy protest was actually announced on Aug. 30 by an Egyptian terrorist group calling for the release of Omar Abdel Rahman (aka the “blind sheik”). Today, CNN reports that the Libya attack also appeared to be orchestrated in advance, by a pro-al-Qaeda group called the “Imprisoned Omar Abdel Rahman Brigades,” which, as its name suggests, also follows the Egyptian blind sheik (h/t Heritage):

A pro-al Qaeda group responsible for a previous armed assault on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi is the chief suspect in Tuesday’s attack that killed the U.S. ambassador to Libya, sources tracking militant Islamist groups in eastern Libya say.

They also note that the attack immediately followed a call from al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri for revenge for the death in June of Abu Yahya al-Libi, a senior Libyan member of the terror group.

The group suspected to be behind the assault — the Imprisoned Omar Abdul Rahman Brigades — first surfaced in May when it claimed responsibility for an attack on the International Red Cross office in Benghazi. The following month the group claimed responsibility for detonating an explosive device outside the U.S. Consulate and later released a video of that attack.

Yesterday it appeared that Islamist leaders had seized on the low-budget anti-Islam film “The Innocence of Muslims” in order to gin up outrage and attract more people to the protests. But the purpose of the film may have been even more sinister than that, according to U.S. and Libyan sources who spoke to CNN. The protest over the film may have been conceived as a diversion, so that militants could launch an attack on U.S. officials being evacuated from the embassy in Libya:

Noman Benotman, once a leading member of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group and now based at the Quilliam Foundation in London told CNN, “An attack like this would likely have required preparation. This would not seem to be merely a protest which escalated.” …

“According to our sources, the attack against the consulate had two waves. The first attack led to U.S. officials being evacuated from the consulate by Libyan security forces, only for the second wave to be launched against U.S. officials after they were kept in a secure location.”

That analysis is supported by U.S. sources who say the attack on the consulate is believed to have been pre-planned. The sources say the attackers used the protest as a diversion to launch the attack, although the sources could not say if the attackers instigated the protest or merely took advantage of it.

If true, the implications may be far more serious than initially thought. It could mean that this wasn’t a spontaneous act of mob violence, but a pre-conceived terrorist attack on a U.S. embassy, on the eleventh anniversary of the September 11 attacks.