According to the Washington Post, U.S. officials suspect that a former Guantanamo Bay detainee played a role in the attack on the American diplomatic compound in Benghazi. The U.S. government is said to be planning to designate the group he leads as a foreign terrorist organization.
The terrorist and former Gitmo detainee in question is Abu Sufian bin Qumu, leader of Ansar al-Sharia in the Libyan city of Darnah. Witnesses reportedly have told American officials that Qumu’s men were in Benghazi before the attack on Sept. 11, 2012. And three American officials told the Post that these men participated in the attack.
Qumu was released from Gitmo in 2007 and sent to Libya, where he was detained for a time. But the Libyan government released him as part of a deal between Qaddafi and Islamist militants. Now he is about to be listed as a “specially designated global terrorist.”
There was no word as to whether, if captured, he will be returned to Gitmo. (Just kidding.)
Tom Joscelyn and Steve Hayes at the Weekly Standard reported on Qumu’s connection with the Benghazi attack back in November. They also discussed Qumu’s links with al Qaeda (whose involvement with Benghazi the New York Times has questioned, in an act of revisionist history) — links that are hardly surprising given Qumu’s detention at Gitmo:
Ben Qumu is one of the original “Arab Afghans” who traveled to Afghanistan to fight the Soviets in the 1980s. In the years that followed the end of the anti-Soviet jihad, Ben Qumu followed al Qaeda to the Sudan and then, in the mid-to-late 1990s, back to Afghanistan and Pakistan. He was eventually arrested in Pakistan after the 9/11 attacks and transferred to the American detention facility at Guantánamo Bay.
A leaked Joint Task Force Guantánamo (JTF-GTMO) threat assessment describes Ben Qumu as an “associate” of Osama bin Laden. JTF-GTMO found that Ben Qumu worked as a driver for a company owned by bin Laden in the Sudan, fought alongside al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan, and maintained ties to several other well-known al Qaeda leaders. Ben Qumu’s alias was found on the laptop of an al Qaeda operative responsible for overseeing the finances for the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The information on the laptop indicated that Ben Qumu was an al Qaeda “member receiving family support.”…
The authors of “Al Qaeda in Libya: a Profile,” a report published by the Library of Congress in conjunction with the Defense Department in August 2012—a month before the Benghazi attacks—identified Ben Qumu as the possible “new face of al Qaeda in Libya despite” his denial of an ongoing al Qaeda role. The report also noted that Ben Qumu and his Ansar al Sharia fighters are “believed to be close to the al Qaeda clandestine network” in Libya. According to the report’s authors, that same network is headed by al Qaeda operatives who report to al Qaeda’s senior leadership in Pakistan, including Ayman al Zawahiri.
The Washington Post acknowledges Qumu links with al Qaeda. Indeed, even the New York Times acknowledged them. But the Times tried to downplay his role in the Benghazi attack. Now, though, the Post reports that U.S. officials are confirming the participation of militiamen under Qumu’s command.
The Post also reports that American officials are eager to question Faraj al Chalabi, a Libyan extremist who might have fled the country. In a new post, Joscelyn, citing two U.S. intelligence officials, says that Chalabi once served as a bodyguard for Osama bin Laden and is suspected of bringing materials from the compound in Benghazi to senior al Qaeda leadership in Pakistan.
Hillary Clinton, Team Obama, and the New York Times would all like to wish away the involvement of Qumu and Chalabi in Benghazi and/or their links to al Qaeda. Wishful thinking of this sort by American officials is, and always has been, one of international terrorism’s biggest assets.