Months before the murder of a U.S. ambassador in Benghazi, American intelligence analysts documented a massive al-Qaida rally a few miles from the ambassador’s residence.
At that rally, terror leaders called for the murder of American diplomats.
Three U.S. intelligence reports, unearthed by the American Media Institute and detailed here for the first time, offer vivid descriptions of the al-Qaida meeting.
Flying the black flag of al-Qaida, some 300 armed men gathered in Benghazi’s Al-Tahrir Square on June 7 and 8, 2012. They brandished machine guns, rocket launchers and a truck mounted with an anti-aircraft cannon.
The two-day meeting, which included outdoor prayers and a parade of armed vehicles, was attended by a baker’s dozen of North African al-Qaida affiliates.
“It was like a team pep rally before the game, only for jihad,” said a U.S. intelligence analyst who monitors North Africa. “Organized and deadly. You saw what followed. People died.”
In the face of these three reports, the State Department continued to deny requests for additional security for the U.S. ambassador in Libya.
At the same time, the State Department issued a travel advisory warning Americans against going to Libya in August 2012.
Obama administration officials have long denied any warning before the Sept. 11, 2012, Benghazi attacks.
On the campaign trail, the president insisted that al-Qaida was “decimated” and “on the run,” while intelligence reports prepared for the president’s advisers told a different story — that al-Qaida’s menace was growing in Libya and elsewhere.
Al-Qaida itself publicly displayed its strength. Al-Qaida posted pictures of the June 2012 Benghazi meeting on its Arabic-language Facebook page and invited the Arabic-language media to cover the event, which many did.
The three U.S. intelligence reports documenting the al-Qaida gathering in Benghazi were circulated in August 2012 and earlier among Defense and State Department officials, as well as America’s 16 intelligence agencies.
The country’s dangers were known to stem from al-Qaida. “In April 2011, I warned Congress to watch out for al-Qaida in Eastern Libya,” said counterterrorism expert Thomas Joscelyn, a senior fellow with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.