Was the Assassination of the U.S. Ambassador to Libya a Second 9/11?
Protests are targeted also at U.S. policies, despite the White House's insistence otherwise
A report in The Independent relying partially on anonymous sources suggests the United States had warnings about the Tuesday's attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi and the assault on the embassy in Cairo:
According to senior diplomatic sources, the US State Department had credible information 48 hours before mobs charged the consulate in Benghazi, and the embassy in Cairo, that American missions may be targeted, but no warnings were given for diplomats to go on high alert and "lockdown", under which movement is severely restricted.
The Independent paints a crisis as a result of the 9/11 attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, reporting sensitive documents going missing, including lists of Libyans working with the U.S. and some related to oil contracts. None of the safe houses around the country are considered safe anymore. A link to Al-Qaeda is suspected:
Senior officials are increasingly convinced, however, that the ferocious nature of the Benghazi attack, in which rocket-propelled grenades were used, indicated it was not the result of spontaneous anger due to the video, called Innocence of Muslims. Patrick Kennedy, Under-Secretary at the State Department, said he was convinced the assault was planned due to its extensive nature and the proliferation of weapons.
There is growing belief that the attack was in revenge for the killing in a drone strike in Pakistan of Mohammed Hassan Qaed, an al-Qa'ida operative who was, as his nom-de-guerre Abu Yahya al-Libi suggests, from Libya, and timed for the anniversary of the 11 September attacks.
Senator Bill Nelson, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said: "I am asking my colleagues on the committee to immediately investigate what role al-Qa'ida or its affiliates may have played in the attack and to take appropriate action."
And indeed, the brother of Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri claimed credit for coordinating the assault on the U.S. embassy in Cairo on Tuesday. Demonstrations at and around the embassy continued for a third day, and were joined by protests, many violent, from Tunisia to Bangladesh. Islamists stormed the German embassy in Sudan, whose capital saw thousands of demonstrators. Three were killed trying to assault the U.S. embassy there. White House press secretary Jay Carney insists the "volatile situation" in the region is due to the anti-Islamic film, apparently being investigated by the FBI, and possibly produced by a former government informant. The protests could not be construed as against "the United States write large or United States policy."
Meanwhile on Fox News' America Live, Paul Wolfowitz, one of the architects of the war in Iraq and the broader Bush doctrine toward the Middle East that Obama has rhetorically rejected while refashioning and adopting, said this was bad actors like Al-Qaeda trying for their own Arab spring. He even mentioned some of the excessive chest-thumping over the killing of bin Laden:
Frankly, I think there's been way too much boasting about killing Osama bin Laden, it was great to kill Osama bin Laden, but in a way you might almost speculate that these attacks, which were curiously timed for September 11th, are a message from Al-Qaeda that says, we're still around, and we'll still be around. The question people ask is will the Americans be around?
The message "take care America, we have 1.5 billion bin Ladens" was reportedly scrawled on the wall of the U.S. embassy in Cairo. Protesters in Afghanistan, where about four in ten residents believe Western forces are there to occupy the country or destroy Islam, want the maker of the film put on trial, finding some support in the contemporary American academia. Protesters in Pakistan, which has received more than $20 billion in foreign aid from the U.S. in the last decade, demanded diplomatic relations with Washington reviewed.
The United States sent two warships to Libya and a Marine team to Yemen and embassies around the world have been put on "high alert." Drones deployed over Benghazi have been fired at with anti-aircraft artillery by Islamist militants. The body of Christopher Stevens, the U.S. ambassador to Libya, returned to a ceremony at Andrews Air Force Base attended by President Obama, who called these "difficult days" but said the United States "will never retreat from the world… [and] will never stop working for the dignity and freedom that every person deserves," and Hillary Clinton, who, echoing the president's sentiment, callied the United States the greatest defender of human dignity in the world and both a good and great force in the world.