From Benghazi to Algeria?
9:50 AM, Jan 23, 2013 • By THOMAS JOSCELYN
Second, the Egyptian network connected to the Benghazi attack deserves more scrutiny, especially now that it may have been involved in the In Amenas raid, too. The head of the network is Muhammad Jamal al Kashef, who served in the Egyptian Islamic Jihad (EIJ) in the 1990s before being imprisoned. The EIJ was headed by Ayman al Zawahiri, now the emir of al Qaeda, at the time. Since being released from prison, Kashef has hooked up with his old buddies. The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and Egyptian press outlets have all reported that trainees from Kashef’s camps were among the Benghazi assailants.
The Egyptian government arrested Kashef for its own reasons. He was a leader in the so-called Nasr City cell, which was apparently plotting various nefarious activities inside Egypt.
American officials have not been granted access to Kashef, according to several U.S. intelligence officials contacted by The Weekly Standard.
The Algerians have not offered many details about the Egyptians they say were involved in the raid on the In Amenas natural gas plant. Were they among the same Egyptians who were trained in Kashef’s camps? We need to know because this adds an additional dimension to the Benghazi story that will be difficult for the ‘It’s All Local’ crowd to explain away.
Finally, the latest reports are entirely consistent with what we know about Mokhtar Belmokhtar, the al Qaeda commander who masterminded the raid in Algeria. Belmokhtar has reportedly visited his counterparts inside Libya since the fall of Muammar Qaddafi’s regime. He is also suspected of receiving arms from Libya, some of which may have been used in the attack on In Amenas. And Belmokhtar’s goons launched their attack from Libya.
None of this sounds terribly local.
Thomas Joscelyn is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.