According to an investigation by CNN reporters, three Yemeni members of Al Qaeda took part on the coordinated attack on an American consulate and a safe house in Benghazi, Libya, on September 11, 2012. “One senior U.S. law enforcement official told CNN that “three or four members of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula,” or AQAP, took part in the attack,” CNN reports.
It is not clear what command structure may have ordered the Al Qaeda operatives to strike at American diplomatic assets in Benghazi, or if the individuals were already in the region and took advantage of the spontaneous protests which had erupted across the region in response to an anti-Islam YouTube video.
According to one source, counterterrorism officials learned the identity of the men and established they had spent two nights in Benghazi after the attack. Western intelligence agencies began trying to track the men in the aftermath of the terrorist attack, but were always behind in their manhunt.
Following the attack, the operatives were tracked to northern Mali where they became connected with the jihadist leader Moktar Belmoktar, “an Algerian terrorist operative linked to al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb who claimed responsibility for the attack on the In Amenas gas facility in southern Algeria in January this year.”
Following a French military incursion into the North African state in early 2013, the three Yemeni men evaded surveillance.
AQAP is understood to be responsible for the 2009 Christmas Day attempt to down a civilian aircraft over Detroit. In October, 2010, the group was implicated in an attempt to blow up explosives disguised as printer cartridges in a number of postal aircraft. On September 14, 2012, AQAP released a statement claiming the attack on Benghazi was revenge for a recently killed Al Qaeda operative, but they did not claim credit for the attack.
The attack on Benghazi claimed the lives of four Americans, including three Navy SEALS and America’s ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens.
Read the full report via CNN
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