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CIA Warned of 'Jihadist' Threat to Cairo Embassy

3:02 PM, May 15, 2013 • By THOMAS JOSCELYN
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Thus, the 9/11 protest in Cairo was not simply the result of an unorganized mob’s reaction to a little-known You Tube video promoting Innocence of Muslims. The protest, which resulted in the American flag being replaced by al Qaeda’s black banner on top of a U.S. Embassy, was intended to show that al Qaeda’s ideology lives, even as senior al Qaeda terrorists are killed.

Al Qaeda leader Ayman al Zawahiri said as much in a video released the day before, on September 10, 2012. Al Qaeda’s “message has spread amongst our Muslim Ummah, which received it with acceptance and responded to it,” the older Zawahiri said in the video, which was disseminated by al Qaeda’s official media arm. After Ayman al Zawahiri speaks these words, a clip from another Al Faroq Media video starring Mohammed al Zawahiri and his fellow Egyptian jihadists is shown.

These jihadists, in effect, proved Ayman al Zawahiri’s point. They gave us the 9/11 protest in Cairo during which protesters waved dozens of al Qaeda’s black banners and chanted “Obama, Obama, we are all Osama!” Others, including soccer hooligans, were involved in the Cairo protest as well. But the role of the jihadists cannot be denied.

Several days later, on September 15, the Obama administration’s talking points were edited to remove any reference to “jihadists” threatening the U.S. Embassy in Cairo.

On this point, the final version of the talking points read:

“The currently available information suggests that the demonstrations in Benghazi were spontaneously inspired by the protests at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo and evolved into a direct assault against the U.S. diplomatic post and subsequently its annex. There are indications that extremists participated in the violent demonstrations.”

There never were any “demonstrations” in Benghazi, only a terrorist attack. There was a protest in Cairo, but the circumstances surrounding that event were muddled to such an extent that any hint of what really transpired was lost. The final sentence in the quote above does refer to generic “extremists,” but the more pointed reference to “jihadist” threats in Cairo prior to 9/11 was removed entirely. The same is true with respect to the perpetrators of the attack in Benghazi, whom the CIA initially identified as a “mix of individuals,” including “Islamic extremists with ties to al Qaeda.” The final version of the talking points excluded that as well.

The early versions of the Benghazi talking points were right to highlight the threat posed by “jihadists” in Cairo. The thread connecting Cairo to Benghazi is plain to see: Al Qaeda-linked jihadists helped orchestrate both. 

The Obama administration’s edits removed them from the story.

Thomas Joscelyn is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

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