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The ‘Hybrid View’ of Benghazi

2:30 PM, Nov 17, 2012 • By THOMAS JOSCELYN
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Sheikh ‘Adel Shehato – Egyptian authorities arrested Shehato and accused him of founding the Nasr City terrorist cell. That cell hasn’t received much attention in the American press, but Egyptian authorities have alleged that its members were involved in the Benghazi attack. Shehato is an official in Egyptian Islamic Jihad (EIJ), a terrorist organization headed by Ayman al Zawahiri that long ago merged with al Qaeda. Mohammed al Zawahiri also belongs to the EIJ. Shehato has openly proclaimed his allegiance to al Qaeda’s ideology.

Sheikh Tawfiq Al ‘Afani – He is also an EIJ official. Along with the three jihadists listed above, he was released from prison following the fall of Hosni Mubarak’s regime. Al ‘Afani openly praises al Qaeda in his public lectures. During the Cairo protest, Al ‘Afani repeated the widely heard refrain: “O Obama, we are all Osama…”  

All four of the individuals mentioned above attended the Cairo protest and helped incite protesters.

A fifth senior jihadist who helped incite protests in Cairo is Ahmed ‘Ashoush, who is so liked by Ayman al Zawahiri that al Qaeda includes clips of ‘Ashoush in its official productions regularly.

While we don’t know for certain if ‘Ashoush personally attended the 9/11 protest in Cairo, he definitely stirred anti-American anger in Egypt. On September 16, less than a week after the protest at the U.S. embassy in Cairo, 'Ashoush released a fatwa online calling for the makers of the film “Innocence of Muslims” to be killed. After 'Ashoush's fatwa was released, the Associated Press reported that he is an “al Qaeda-linked Egyptian jihadist...who was believed close to Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda's current No. 1, Ayman al Zawahiri.”

And then there is the case of Muhammad Jamal al Kashef (a.k.a. Abu Ahmed), yet another EIJ official who has been tied directly to the attack in Benghazi. Egyptian authorities have said that Jamal is a leader of the Nasr City cell, the same one founded by Sheikh Shehato.

Jamal established terrorist camps in eastern Libya. Both the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times have reported that terrorists trained in Jamal’s Libyan camps took part in the assault in Benghazi. The Wall Street Journal also reported that Jamal “petitioned” Ayman al Zawahiri for permission to set up his own al Qaeda affiliate and that Jamal received financing from al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).

In 2007, Jamal, who was then imprisoned, signed a statement rebutting a critique of al Qaeda’s ideology. Mohammed al Zawahiri, Sheikh Tawfiq al 'Afani, and Ahmed 'Ashoush also signed the statement in support of al Qaeda. And it just so happens that all four men were directly involved in the events of this past September. 

So, there is something to the “hybrid view” of September 11, 2012. But that something points to al Qaeda.

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

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