Muhammad Jamal al Kashef, a main suspect in the Benghazi consulate assault, from a video posted by the Al Marsad News Network. Courtesy of SITE Intelligence Group.
One of the main suspects in the Sept. 11 attack on the US consulate in Benghazi appeared in a recent video posted online by an Egyptian media organization, according to the SITE Intelligence Group.
Muhammad Jamal al Kashef (a.k.a. Abu Ahmed) is suspected of training some of the terrorists responsible for the consulate assault, during which Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were killed.
On Oct. 28, the Al Marsad News Network posted a short interview with Jamal on YouTube.
It is not clear where or when the interview was filmed, but Jamal says he “always came to this place inside a State Security vehicle, and this is the first time” he did not. Jamal does not add much more.
The interviewer concludes by congratulating him, according to SITE’s translation. “A thousand congratulations, Sheikh Abu Ahmed, a thousand congratulations, Muhammad Jamal Abu al Kashef. Peace be upon you O Sheikh!”
Jamal’s ties to the Sept. 11 terrorist attack in Benghazi were first reported by The Wall Street Journal. US officials cited by the paper said “initial reports” indicated that some of Jamal’s fighters took part in the assault. In addition, the paper cited a former US official as saying that intelligence reports “suggest that some of the attackers trained at camps [Jamal] established in the Libyan Desert.” Those same camps are being filled with recruits from Egypt and elsewhere. Suicide bombers are also being indoctrinated in the camps.
The Wall Street Journal’s sources added that Jamal had “petitioned” Ayman al Zawahiri, “to whom [Jamal] has long ties, for permission to launch an al Qaeda affiliate and has secured financing from al Qaeda’s Yemeni wing.”
Mohammed al Zawahiri, Ayman al Zawahiri’s younger brother, reportedly put Jamal in touch with al Qaeda’s emir. Mohammed al Zawahiri has denied this in interviews and also proclaimed Jamal’s innocence with respect to the Benghazi attack.
But Mohammed al Zawahiri was also involved in the events of Sept. 11. He was one of several al Qaeda-linked jihadists who helped incite a protest in front of the US embassy in Cairo. [See LWJ report, Al Qaeda-linked jihadists helped incite 9/11 Cairo protest.]
Jamal has longstanding ties to the Zawahiri brothers. He reportedly became a top Egyptian Islamic Jihad (EIJ) commander after returning from Afghanistan in the 1990s. The EIJ’s longtime chieftain is Ayman al Zawahiri, who merged his organization with al Qaeda.
Some Arabic press accounts have claimed that Jamal now leads al Qaeda’s operations in Egypt and Libya. Al Hayat, a London-based Arabic newspaper, recently reported that Ayman al Zawahiri has given Jamal the go-ahead to launch terrorist attacks in Egypt, Libya, and elsewhere. This explanation of the relationship goes further than the one initially reported by The Wall Street Journal.
In a series of raids, Egyptian authorities have cracked down on terrorists they allege are affiliated with Jamal and the Benghazi attack. According to Reuters, a Libyan was killed in Cairo during a “a raid targeting him and other militants with suspected links to al Qaeda in Cairo’s eastern district of Nasr City.” Four Egyptians were arrested during the raid while the Libyan, “identified as Karim Ahmed Essam el-Azizi, was killed by a bomb he had tried to use against the security forces.”
Given the scrutiny Jamal’s network inside Egypt has received in the past week, it is especially curious that a new video of him has surfaced.
Thomas Joscelyn is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Senior Editor for FDD’s Long War Journal.