I remember when treason was a capital offense.
Now, it isn’t even grounds for someone losing his or her job.
JERUSALEM – The U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, actually served as a meeting place to coordinate aid for the rebel-led insurgencies in the Middle East, according to Middle Eastern security officials.
Among the tasks performed inside the building was collaborating with Arab countries on the recruitment of fighters – including jihadists – to target Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria.
The distinction may help explain why there was no major public security presence at what has been described as a “consulate.” Such a presence would draw attention to the shabby, nondescript building that was allegedly used for such sensitive purposes.
Since the mission was attacked last month, countless news media reports around the world have referred to the obscure post as a U.S. consulate. That theme continues to permeate the media, with articles daily referencing a “consulate” in Benghazi.
U.S. officials have been more careful in their rhetoric while not contradicting the media narrative that a consulate was attacked.
In his remarks on the attack, President Obama has referred to the Benghazi post as a “U.S. mission.” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has similarly called the post a “mission.”
A consulate typically refers to the building that officially houses a consul, who is the official representatives of the government of one state in the territory of another. The U.S. consul in Libya, Jenny Cordell, works out of the embassy in Tripoli.
Consulates at times function as junior embassies, providing services related to visas, passports and citizen information.
On Aug. 26, about two weeks before his was killed, U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens attended a ceremony marking the opening of consular services at the Tripoli embassy.
“I’m happy to announce that starting on Monday, August 27, we are ready to offer a full range of consular services to Libyans,” stated Stevens at the ceremony in Tripoli. “This means non-immigrant visas, as well as assistance to Americans residing in, or visiting, Libya.”
The main role of a consulate is to foster trade with the host and care for its own citizens who are traveling or living in the host nation.
Diplomatic missions, on the other hand, maintain a more generalized role. A diplomatic mission is simply a group of people from one state or an international inter-governmental organization present in another state to represent matters of the sending state or organization in the receiving state.
The State Department website lists no consulate in Benghazi.
According to Middle Eastern security officials speaking to WND, the so-called consulate was more of a diplomatic meeting place for U.S. officials, including Stevens.
The security officials divulged the building was routinely used by Stevens and others to coordinate with the Turkish, Saudi and Qatari governments on supporting the insurgencies in the Middle East, most prominently the rebels opposing Assad’s regime in Syria.
Last week, the State Department gave a vivid account of Stevens’ final day during a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. It was disclosed that about an hour before the attack began, Stevens concluded his final meeting of the day with a Turkish diplomat. Turkey has been leading the insurgency against Assad’s regime.
Last month, WND broke the story that Stevens played a central role in recruiting jihadists to fight Assad’s regime in Syria, according to Egyptian security officials.
Stevens served as a key contact with the Saudis to coordinate the recruitment by Saudi Arabia of Islamic fighters from North Africa and Libya. The jihadists were sent to Syria via Turkey to attack Assad’s forces, said the security officials.
The officials said Stevens also worked with the Saudis to send names of potential jihadi recruits to U.S. security organizations for review. Names found to be directly involved in previous attacks against the U.S., including in Iraq and Afghanistan, were ultimately not recruited by the Saudis to fight in Syria, said the officials.
Stevens and three other American diplomats were killed on Sept. 11 in an attack blamed on Islamists.
One witness to the mob scene in Libya said some of the gunmen attacking the U.S. installation had identified themselves as members of Ansar al-Shariah, which represents al-Qaida in Yemen and Libya.
The al-Qaida offshoot released a statement denying its members were behind the deadly attack, but a man identified as a leader of the Ansar brigade told Al Jazeera the group indeed took part in the Benghazi attack.
Al-Qaida among U.S.-supported rebels
As WND reported, questions remain about the nature of U.S. support for the revolutions in Egypt and Libya, including reports the U.S.-aided rebels that toppled Muammar Gadhafi’s regime in Libya consisted of al-Qaida and jihad groups. The U.S. provided direct assistance, including weapons and finances, to the Libyan rebels.
Similarly, the Obama administration is currently aiding the rebels fighting Assad’s regime in Syria amid widespread reports that al-Qaida jihadists are included in the ranks of the Free Syrian Army. Earlier this month, Obama announced $50 million more in aid to the Syrian rebels.
During the revolution against Gadhafi’s regime, the U.S. admitted to directly arming the rebel groups.
At the time, rebel leader Abdel-Hakim al-Hasidi admitted in an interview that a significant number of the Libyan rebels were al-Qaida fighters, many of whom had fought U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.
He insisted his fighters “are patriots and good Muslims, not terrorists,” but he added that the “members of al-Qaida are also good Muslims and are fighting against the invader.”
Adm. James Stavridis, NATO supreme commander for Europe, admitted Libya’s rebel force may include al-Qaida: “We have seen flickers in the intelligence of potential al-Qaida, Hezbollah.”
Former CIA officer Bruce Riedel went even further, telling the Hindustan Times: “There is no question that al-Qaida’s Libyan franchise, Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, is a part of the opposition. It has always been Gadhafi’s biggest enemy and its stronghold is Benghazi. What is unclear is how much of the opposition is al-Qaida/Libyan Islamic Fighting Group – 2 percent or 80 percent.”
In Syria, meanwhile, the U.S. may be currently supporting al-Qaida and other jihadists fighting with the rebels targeting Assad’s regime.
In August, WND quoted a senior Syrian source claiming at least 500 hardcore mujahedeen from Afghanistan, many of whom were spearheading efforts to fight the U.S. there, were killed in clashes with Syrian forces last month.
Also last month, WND reported Jihadiya Salafia in the Gaza Strip, a group that represents al-Qaida in the coastal territory, had declared three days of mourning for its own jihadists who died in Syria in recent weeks.
There have been widespread reports of al-Qaida among the Syrian rebels, including in reports by Reuters and the New York Times.
WND reported in May there was growing collaboration between the Syrian opposition and al-Qaida as well as evidence the opposition is sending weapons to jihadists in Iraq, according to an Egyptian security official.
The military official told WND that Egypt has reports of collaboration between the Syrian opposition and three al-Qaida arms, including one the operates in Libya:
- Jund al-Sham, which is made up of al-Qaida militants who are Syrian, Palestinian and Lebanese;
- Jund al-Islam, which in recent years merged with Ansar al-Islam, an extremist group of Sunni Iraqis operating under the al-Qaida banner and operating in Yemen and Libya;
- Jund Ansar al-Allah, an al-Qaida group based in Gaza linked to Palestinian camps in Lebanon and Syria.
U.S. officials have stated the White House is providing nonlethal aid to the Syrian rebels while widespread reports have claimed the U.S. has been working with Arab countries to ensure the opposition in Syria is well armed.
Another “Fast & Furious”: The Obama Administration has been secretly running Saudi and Qatari weapons to al Qaeda operatives in Syria
Published on Oct 16, 2012 by Massteaparty
By Marc A. Thiessen, Published: October 15
First there was the Libya coverup. Now, we have the Syria coverup.
In last week’s vice presidential debate, Joe Biden asserted that the United States was working to isolate al-Qaeda in Syria by ensuring that aid was directed to moderate elements of the Syrian opposition. “We are working hand and glove with the Turks, with the Jordanians, with the Saudis, and with all the people in the region attempting to identify the people who deserve the help so that when Assad goes — and he will go — there will be a legitimate government that follows on, not an al-Qaeda-sponsored government that follows on,” Biden declared.
Paul Ryan immediately challenged Biden’s claim, saying that the administration’s inaction has allowed al-Qaeda to get a foothold in Syria. “The longer this has gone on, the more people, groups like al-Qaeda are going in,” Ryan said, adding, “We could have more easily identified the Free Syrian Army, the freedom fighters, working with our allies, the Turks, the Qataris, the Saudis, had we had a better plan in place.”
Biden denied it, declaring: “We are in the process now — and have been for months — in making sure that help, humanitarian aid, as well as other aid and training is getting to those forces that we believe, the Turks believe, the Jordanians believe, the Saudis believe are the free forces inside of Syria. That is underway.”
Well, according to a report in this morning’s New York Times, Biden’s statement was not true.
“Most of the arms shipped at the behest of Saudi Arabia and Qatar to supply Syrian rebel groups fighting the government of Bashar al-Assad are going to hard-line Islamic jihadists, and not the more secular opposition groups that the West wants to bolster, according to American officials and Middle Eastern diplomats,” the Times reports.
The paper quotes one U.S. official as saying, “The opposition groups that are receiving the most of the lethal aid are exactly the ones we don’t want to have it,” adding that “officials, voicing frustration, say there is no central clearinghouse for the shipments, and no effective way of vetting the groups that ultimately receive them.”
In other words, what Biden said was false. Worse yet, Biden knew his statement was untrue when he said it. According to the Times, “President Obama and other senior officials are aware [of this conclusion] from classified assessments of the Syrian conflict that has now claimed more than 25,000 lives,” adding the intelligence assessments “casts into doubt whether the White House’s strategy of minimal and indirect intervention in the Syrian conflict is accomplishing its intended purpose of helping a democratic-minded opposition topple an oppressive government, or is instead sowing the seeds of future insurgencies hostile to the United States.”
If this is the assessment of our intelligence community, why did Biden say the exact opposite in the debate last week? When Biden was asked during the debate why requests for additional security in Libya were denied, he pleaded ignorance and blamed the State Department, declaring: “We weren’t told they wanted more security there.” But in the case of Syria, the Times reports, the President and his national security team were told that the aid was going to “hard-line Islamic jihadists.” Yet Biden plainly asserted aid was going to “people who deserve the help” and “free forces inside Syria” and not jihadists. It is simply implausible that, if President Obama and his top national security advisers were aware of the intelligence assessments, Biden was not.
The revelation that the Obama administration has presided over the development of an arms pipeline to al-Qaeda in Syria — and Biden’s apparently deliberate untruth about it in last week’s debate — is the latest Obama foreign policy coverup. With foreign policy on the agenda in tomorrow’s presidential debate, Mitt Romney has a golden opportunity to challenge the president on his administration’s latest national security scandal.
Speaking at the Virginia Military Institute last week, Romney said that because of Obama’s failure to lead in Syria “we are missing an historic opportunity to win new friends who share our values in the Middle East.” He declared “it is essential that we develop influence with those forces in Syria that will one day lead a country that sits at the heart of the Middle East” and promised that he would “work with our partners to identify and organize those members of the opposition who share our values and ensure they obtain the arms they need to defeat Assad’s tanks, helicopters, and fighter jets.”
Biden looked the American people in the eye last week and told them the Obama administration was doing exactly that. He apparently knew it was not so. Romney needs to ask the president tomorrow night: How is it that most of the aid in Syria is going to al-Qaeda and its allies? Why did your administration knowingly mislead the American people about this? And when are you going to stop subcontracting our responsibilities to others and start making sure aid and training get to those who share this nation’s values?
Marc A. Thiessen, a fellow with the American Enterprise Institute, writes a weekly online column for The Post.