By midsummer, al-Qaeda’s emir, Ayman al-Zawahiri, recorded an acknowledgment of al-Libi’s death that exhorted jihadists, particularly in Libya, to retaliate: “His blood urges you and incites you to fight and kill the crusaders.” Naturally, Zawahiri was targeting September 11 as the moment for vengeance. His recording was released on that morning, intimating that a revenge strike would be the most fitting way for Libyans to mark the day when, eleven years earlier, al-Qaeda killed nearly 3,000 Americans. Obligingly, al-Qaeda affiliates carried out the Benghazi massacre later that day.
Not only did the intelligence community have reason aplenty to anticipate trouble in Benghazi on September 11 — reason having nothing to do with the Mohammed video. We now know, thanks to reporting by the Daily Beast’s Eli Lake, that the diplomatic compound’s surveillance cameras recorded “an organized group of armed men attacking the compound.” Mr. Lake adds that the intelligence community had a surveillance drone taking video “for the final hour of the night battle at the consulate compound and nearby annex.” Moreover, U.S. intelligence officials figured out, within a day of the attack, that the operation was pre-planned and several participants were tied to al-Qaeda affiliates.
Yet, the administration continued, day after day, blaming the massacre on the video. The claim was absurd on its face. Plus, it contradicted an intelligence tapestry signaling a well-planned jihadist operation, to say nothing of the manner of the attack — the timing, preparation, and cruelty of which veritably screamed, “al-Qaeda!” Still, even now, Biden and the Obama administration claim that the intelligence community actually believed our people were killed over a video — that Obama officials were simply repeating what they were told, not spouting what they audaciously hoped to deceive Americans into believing.
Why the deception? Because if you conclude the Benghazi massacre had nothing to do with a cockamamie video no one has seen, you soon realize Obama’s favorite campaign theme — namely, that killing bin Laden decimated the terror network — is nonsense. And you realize that what happened in Benghazi on September 11 is directly traceable to Obama’s Middle East policy.
As noted above, the recent intelligence we’ve just reviewed arose in a historic context. Beginning in 2009, the Obama administration, echoing the Republican establishment, told Americans that Qaddafi had become a key ally of the United States against terrorism. Obama even substantially increased the American aid the Bush administration had begun providing to Qaddafi’s regime. The rationale for embracing the dictator was straightforward: Not only had Qaddafi abandoned his nuclear program; he was providing vital intelligence about jihadist cauldrons throughout his country. By percentage of population, more Libyans traveled to Iraq to wage terrorist war against American troops than did citizens of any other country. And in Libya, Benghazi was the epicenter of the jihad.
In 2011, however, President Obama initiated an unprovoked war against the Qaddafi regime. Though Qaddafi had taken no intervening hostile action against the United States, and though no vital American national interest would be served by Qaddafi’s removal, Obama chose to side with the Islamist rebellion against him. Why? As demonstrated in my new book, Spring Fever: The Illusion of Islamic Democracy, the president was determined to sell the “Arab Spring” fantasy of a Middle East seized by the desire for freedom rather than strangled by the ambitions of freedom-killing Islamic supremacists.