Benghazi consulate assault a ‘terrorist attack,’ DNI says

The US intelligence community is finally coming around to the conclusion that the Sept. 11 attack on the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya, was “a deliberate and organized terrorist attack carried out by extremists,” and that “some of those involved were linked to groups affiliated with, or sympathetic to al Qaeda.” The admission was made by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. The statement is reproduced in full at the end of this article.

If you listened to the briefing by anonymous US State Department officials just one day after the attack, paired the statements up with the local press reports on the Benghazi attack, and also took note that al Qaeda’s black banner was raised over the consulate, this all should have been painfully obvious [see Threat Matrix report, Ansar al Shariah issues statement on US Consulate assault in Libya].

US government officials made a major mistake by playing into the narrative that the Benghazi terror assault was merely part of spontaneous protests that broke out due to anger over a clip from a D movie that is offensive to Muslims. Al Qaeda and allied jihadist groups want people to believe that the assault on Benghazi was part of a groundswell of Muslim rage against the film. This can be seen in Ansar al Shariah’s non-denial of complicity in the Benghazi attack. This is what Ansar al Shariah said in one of those non-denial denials [emphasis mine]:

Ansar al-Shariah Brigade didn’t participate in this popular uprising as a separate entity, but it was carrying out its duties in al-Jala’a hospital and other places where it was entrusted with some duties. The Brigade didn’t participate as a sole entity; rather, it was a spontaneous popular uprising in response to what happened by the West.

While Ansar al Shariah wants to obscure its role in Benghazi, a former Guantanamo detainee named Sufyan ben Qumu, who commands a brigade within the group, is thought to have played a major role in the attack. Additionally, US intelligence has intercepted communications between Ansar al Shariah and al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, in which the former bragged to the latter about its role in the assault.

Statement on the intelligence related to the terrorist attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya

In the aftermath of the terrorist attack on U.S. personnel and facilities in Benghazi, Libya, the Intelligence Community launched a comprehensive effort to determine the circumstances surrounding the assault and to identity the perpetrators. We also reviewed all available intelligence to determine if there might be follow-on attacks against our people or facilities in Libya or elsewhere in the world.

As the Intelligence Community collects and analyzes more information related to the attack, our understanding of the event continues to evolve. In the immediate aftermath, there was information that led us to assess that the attack began spontaneously following protests earlier that day at our embassy in Cairo. We provided that initial assessment to Executive Branch officials and members of Congress, who used that information to discuss the attack publicly and provide updates as they became available. Throughout our investigation we continued to emphasize that information gathered was preliminary and evolving.

As we learned more about the attack, we revised our initial assessment to reflect new information indicating that it was a deliberate and organized terrorist attack carried out by extremists. It remains unclear if any group or person exercised overall command and control of the attack, and if extremist group leaders directed their members to participate. However, we do assess that some of those involved were linked to groups affiliated with, or sympathetic to al-Qa’ida. We continue to make progress, but there remain many unanswered questions. As more information becomes available our analysis will continue to evolve and we will obtain a more complete understanding of the circumstances surrounding the terrorist attack.

We continue to support the ongoing FBI investigation and the State Department review of the Benghazi terrorist attack, providing the full capabilities and resources of the Intelligence Community to those efforts. We also will continue to meet our responsibility to keep Congress fully and currently informed. For its part, the Intelligence Community will continue to follow the information about the tragic events in Benghazi wherever it leads. The President demands and expects that we will do this, as do Congress and the American people. As the Intelligence Community, we owe nothing less than our best efforts in this regard, especially to the families of the four courageous Americans who lost their lives at Benghazi in service of their country.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

Are you a dedicated reader of FDD's Long War Journal? Has our research benefitted you or your team over the years? Support our independent reporting and analysis today by considering a one-time or monthly donation. Thanks for reading! You can make a tax-deductible donation here.


  • joefriday says:

    So I’m talking to Helen Keller and she tells me she saw & heard all this before…
    I came to the same GD conclusion with a $60 a month ISP line, Reading OSI, ‘Common Sense’ of the Incident Timing(I know it’s missing in DC) ‘ AND ‘Atmospherics’ of the Enviroment (pre incident)’ & yes some MIL Friends Feedback.
    All in about 1hr. The First Hour.
    So this is what $60,000,000,000 a yr. gets us?
    Not to include the ‘Black Budget $$$’
    Tinfoil…We all use it, some dresswith it, even in the Halls of the Kingdom.
    Polly’s will never change..
    Appearance rules the day
    and a new career… Drinking & Eating Truffels
    What were the Drones that never left doing?!?…
    Guess the Batteries were low.
    This Whole thing is not only Painfull for those that lost Family, Friends, Bro’s and folks..
    But Nationaly we look like a Episode of Bevis and Butthead goto DC!
    Worse..The Politicians & (Agency Heads) are going to get away with it….in the name of…
    National Appearance, Gov’t Continuity and Career.
    Excuse me…while Hang my head is Shame..
    and go Puke !

  • ArnoldLayne says:

    We’re in deep do-do if that ‘intelligence community’ contains our sharpest tacks.

  • Big Sparky 10 says:

    Now Arnold,
    Are you sure the sharp tacks were telling the politicians the truth and providing ample warning only to be ignored? Worse, it appears Ambassador Stevens’ own concerns were not listened to by his ‘superiors’… We all know better than to question the beltway experts who spend very little time on the ground in their area of expertise! Why the delay in getting the FBI to the site of the attack? Why is a Congressional Committee being stonewalled when it has asked for all communication between Stevens and the State Department?

  • IK says:

    The intelligence community, as did anyone with a brain, knew right away it was an organized terrorist attack. Mobs set things on fire, they don’t carry RPG’s and fire mortar rounds.
    Obama decided to downplay the terrorist aspect, to both avoid any blame for not providing better security, and to continue the narrative of Al Qaeda being defeated, and to avoid any attention to the fact that he ran off to some fundraiser the night of the attack.
    They were aided by the court eunuchs of the press, who spend that whole week where our consulate was attacked and 4 Americans killed, talking about what Mitt Romney said.
    Now Obama needs to walk back the ridiculous assertion that the attack was a spontaneous mob, to avoid further press scrutiny. The media will readily accept this is the blame is placed elsewhere.
    Enter court fool James Clapper, DNI. The Director of National Intelligence is a position created by the 9/11 commission, supposedly to oversee all intelligence collection. It has a small staff, no real power over other agencies such as the CIA or NSA, a small budget, and no budget ability over the other agencies. In short, it’s a joke of a position. No one of any stature wants it – you have no power in that position, but the potential for lots of blame.
    Clapper was offered the job after several other people turned it down.
    It’s pretty widely known that in the Obama administration the influencal people are John O. Brennan, who has the job of Deputy National Security Advisor for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, and the CIA head, especially when it was Leon Panetta, and now David Petraeus.
    So Clapper has assumed the role of whipping boy – if something goes wrong and someone needs to take the blame, they trot him out for it. I guess it pays his bills.
    Expect the media then to write a few stories about this being an intelligence failure on the ground, then refuse to cover it any more, as it might hurt Obama’s chances for a second term.


Islamic state



Al shabaab

Boko Haram