Commentary Magazine


Topic: Blind Sheik

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.

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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.

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Report: Riots Actually About Release of Blind Sheik

USA Today reports that the riot at the U.S. embassy in Cairo appears to have been planned well before the Egyptian media reported on the anti-Islam YouTube film that was blamed for sparking the protest. The protest was reportedly announced on August 30 by Gamaa Islamiyya, an Egyptian terrorist group, to call for the release of its leader, Sheikh Omar abdel Rahman — aka the blind sheik, who is serving a life sentence for the first World Trade Center bombing:

Days of planning and online promotion by hard-line Islamist leaders helped whip up the mobs that stormed the U.S. Embassy in Egypt and launched a deadly attack on the U.S. Embassy in Libya that killed an ambassador and three others. …

The protest was planned by Salafists well before news circulated of an objectionable video ridiculing Islam’s prophet, Mohammed, said Eric Trager, an expert at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

The protest outside the U.S. Embassy in Cairo was announced Aug. 30 by [Gamaa Islamiyya], a State Department-designated terrorist group, to protest the ongoing imprisonment of its spiritual leader, Sheikh Omar abdel Rahman, who is serving a life sentence in the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center.

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USA Today reports that the riot at the U.S. embassy in Cairo appears to have been planned well before the Egyptian media reported on the anti-Islam YouTube film that was blamed for sparking the protest. The protest was reportedly announced on August 30 by Gamaa Islamiyya, an Egyptian terrorist group, to call for the release of its leader, Sheikh Omar abdel Rahman — aka the blind sheik, who is serving a life sentence for the first World Trade Center bombing:

Days of planning and online promotion by hard-line Islamist leaders helped whip up the mobs that stormed the U.S. Embassy in Egypt and launched a deadly attack on the U.S. Embassy in Libya that killed an ambassador and three others. …

The protest was planned by Salafists well before news circulated of an objectionable video ridiculing Islam’s prophet, Mohammed, said Eric Trager, an expert at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

The protest outside the U.S. Embassy in Cairo was announced Aug. 30 by [Gamaa Islamiyya], a State Department-designated terrorist group, to protest the ongoing imprisonment of its spiritual leader, Sheikh Omar abdel Rahman, who is serving a life sentence in the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center.

Based on the report, it sounds like the anti-Islam YouTube video was a secondary issue — a way for Islamist leaders to stoke anger and draw more bodies out to the embassy protest. If the storming of the embassy was organized by Gamaa Islamiyya — as opposed to a spontaneous uprising — why hasn’t the State Department’s response reflected that? It’s hard to imagine they’re not aware of the group’s activities. In June, the State Department actually issued a visa to a member of Gamaa Islamiyya — again, this is a designated terrorist organization — and met with him in Washington, as part of a delegation of Egyptian leaders. During the meeting, he reportedly asked White House officials to release the blind sheik. Here was the State Department’s defense at the time, which is even more astonishing in light of the latest news:

“We neither had then, nor do we have now, any reason to believe that this particular individual — who at the time of his application was a member of parliament — would pose a threat to the United States,” [State Department spokesperson Victoria] Nuland told reporters.

Nuland pointed to rapid changes in the Middle East, where an Islamist was declared the winner Sunday of Egypt’s first democratic presidential elections a year and a half after street protests toppled strongman Hosni Mubarak.

“It’s a new day in Egypt; it’s a new day in a lot of countries across the Middle East and North Africa. So new political personalities are coming to light,” Nuland said.

“We have more folks who want to come here, want to know us, want to learn about the US, want to develop relationships with us. We have the same interest with regard to them,” she said.

Apparently State miscalculated on that “develop relationships” part.

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