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More Al Qaeda Connections in Benghazi

10:20 AM, Oct 25, 2012 • By THOMAS JOSCELYN
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“Egyptian Jihad Network” – On top of AQI, AQIM, and AAS, CNN reports that members of “an Egyptian jihad network” took part in the assault. An intelligence official cited by CNN explained that “the core group” of Benghazi terrorists included suspected AAS members. In addition, “many” members of the core “are believed to be Egyptian jihadis.”

This tracks with what the Wall Street Journal reported previously. The Journal’s sources identified “fighters” tied to Muhammad Jamal Abu Ahmad, a member of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad (EIJ) who was released from prison last year, as participants in the attack. Abu Ahmad “has long ties” to Ayman al Zawahiri, the chief of al Qaeda. The EIJ is a core part of the al Qaeda joint venture.

The Journal reported that Ahmad “has petitioned” Ayman al Zawahiri “for permission to launch an al Qaeda affiliate and has secured financing from al Qaeda's Yemeni wing.” Ahmad “is building his own terror group, say Western officials, who call it the Jamal Network.” EIJ members are suspected of funneling Egyptian militants to training camps in Libya as well.

The Journal added another intriguing detail: “U.S. officials believe [Mohammed al Zawahiri] has helped Mr. Ahmad connect with the al Qaeda chief.” Mohammed al Zawahiri is the younger brother of Ayman al Zawahiri.

Mohammed al Zawahiri helped orchestrate the embassy protest in Cairo earlier in the day on September 11, 2012.

Al Qaeda is not defeated

One thing should be painfully obvious from reading this summary of the Benghazi suspects: Al Qaeda is not dead. It will take even more time to piece together this puzzle. The U.S. government has had a confused and muddled reaction to the events of September 11, 2012.

For this reason, among others, most of the pieces to the Benghazi puzzle should be declassified and released to the public. 

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

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