Egyptian Terrorist Linked to Benghazi Attack
10:06 AM, Nov 8, 2012 • By THOMAS JOSCELYN
Citing the Egyptian Interior Ministry, Al Hayat reported that Shehato and two of his accomplices were arrested while attempting to “slip through the Egyptian-Libyan border with [large] quantities of money and different currencies.”
The Muhammad Jamal Network
A second al Qaeda-linked, Egyptian jihadist who has been connected to the Nasr City cell is Muhammad Jamal. The Wall Street Journal was first to report that terrorists trained in Jamal’s Libyan camps are suspected of taking part in the assault on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi.
Like Shehato, Jamal was an EIJ leader under Ayman al Zawahiri. Jamal reportedly “petitioned” Ayman al Zawahiri to create his own al Qaeda affiliate and has received cash from al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). Jamal’s liaison to al Qaeda’s emir was the aforementioned Mohammed al Zawahiri.
Since the Wall Street Journal’s initial account, the New York Times has also reported that members of Jamal’s network took part in the Benghazi attack. CNN has referred to Jamal's organization as “an Egyptian jihad network” and also pointed to its role in the September 11, 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi.
In 2007, Jamal was one of several imprisoned jihadists who signed a statement rebutting Sayyid Imam al Sharif’s ideological criticisms of al Qaeda. Sharif (a.k.a. Dr. Fadl), who was previously an ideological mentor to Ayman al Zawahiri, criticized al Qaeda’s slaughter of Muslims. While al Qaeda is frequently criticized by outsiders, Sharif’s criticisms were especially damaging as they came from a man with a long al Qaeda pedigree. Accordingly, Sharif received a harsh backlash from al Qaeda.
Jamal and his allies sought to rebuff Sharif from behind bars as well. “We support all jihad movements in the world and see in them the hope of the nation and its frontlines toward its bright future,” their statement read. “We say to our Muslim nation that no matter how long the night may last, dawn will emerge.”
In addition to Jamal, several others signed the statement, including Mohammed al Zawahiri, Sheikh Tawfiq al 'Afani, and Ahmed 'Ashoush. All three of these co-signatories helped incite protests over the anti-Islam video “Innocence of Muslims” in Cairo.
Some Arabic publications have labeled Jamal an outright al Qaeda operative. Citing “security sources,” Al Hayat reported the Egyptian “investigations revealed that [Jamal] had close links to Al Qaeda leader Ayman al Zawahiri, who assigned him to lead the organization in Egypt and Libya.” Jamal, Al Hayat continued, “has masterminded several operations carried out during the last period, particularly in Libya and Yemen, upon Zawahiri's instructions, and that he got the green light to carry out further jihadi operations in Egypt and Libya.”
Egyptian authorities continued to investigate Jamal’s ties to the Nasr City cell.
We are left with a conspicuous set of dots connecting al Qaeda-linked extremists, the September 11 protest in Cairo, and the terrorist attack in Benghazi.
These dots have received far too little attention here in the U.S.
Thomas Joscelyn is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.