Monday, May 13, 2013

Obama Administration Hired al-Qaida-Linked Group to Defend Benghazi Mission

The Libyan militia group that the State Department hired to defend its embattled diplomatic mission in Benghazi had clear al-Qaida sympathies,
writes John Rosenthal in a Newsmax exclusive,
and had prominently displayed the al-Qaida flag on a Facebook page some months before the deadly attack. 
That organization, the February 17th Martyrs Brigade, was paid by the U.S. government to provide security at the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya. But there is no indication the Martyrs Brigade fulfilled its commitment to defend the mission on Sept. 11, when it came under attack.
  … Several entries on the militia’s Facebook page openly profess sympathy for Ansar al-Sharia, the hardline Islamist extremist group widely blamed  for the deadly attack on the mission. The State Department did not respond to a Newsmax request for an explanation as to why the February 17th Martyrs Brigade was hired to protect the mission.

 … Perhaps the biggest question is why the State Department would hire a group that openly displayed its admiration for al-Qaida, and ask it to participate in the defense of its diplomatic mission.

The banner, or “cover photo” of one of the group’s Facebook pages, shows an Islamic fighter, or mujahid, with a portable rocket launcher resting on his shoulder.

The distinctive black flag of al-Qaida can be seen fluttering to the man’s right, attached to the vehicle in which he is riding. The mujahid wears a headband based on the design of the al-Qaida flag. The flag in question features the shahada, or Islamic declaration of faith, and a white circle that is sometimes described as the “seal of Mohammed.”

 … Throughout the summer leading up to the attack, embassy officials repeatedly asked the State Department for additional security. But the State Department actually reduced security, pulling out a military detachment responsible for defending diplomats in Libya.

One reason the requests for additional security may have been denied: They did not fit into the administration narrative that al-Qaida elements no longer posed a threat to U.S. interests.

One diplomatic cable to the mission indicated that the U.S.-based deputy assistant secretary for diplomatic security was “reluctant to ask for [additional security] apparently out of concern that it would be embarrassing to the [State Department] to continue to have to rely on [Defense Department] assets to protect our mission.”

When the mission’s regional safety officer expressed an interest in July 2012 asking State Department official to permit the military security team to continue to protect the mission, Charlene Lamb, deputy assistant secretary in charge of diplomatic security, sent an e-mail that responded: “NO, I do not [I repeat] not want them to ask for the [military security] team to stay!”

Republicans have complained in recent weeks that the Obama administration has been stonewalling their investigation.