During an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper, New York Times reporter David Kirkpatrick was asked about the connections between Muhammad Jamal’s network and the Benghazi attack.
Jamal, as I documented in a response to Kirkpatrick’s Times piece, was clearly operating as part of al Qaeda’s international network. And according to multiple reports, including in the New York Times itself, Jamal’s network is suspected of taking part in the Benghazi attack.
This reporting contradicts Kirkpatrick’s thesis that only “local” Libyan actors were involved and that neither al Qaeda-affiliated terrorists, nor any other internationally connected terrorist groups, took part in the September 11, 2012 assault.
Cooper asked Kirkpatrick if the Jamal ties showed an al Qaeda link to Benghazi and about the Times’s own reporting on this connection. Kirkpatrick responded:
I don't believe that group was involved. I think that the reporting in our paper was citing some congressional officials saying they thought this Jamal group might have been involved. And the congressional officials in turn were citing a report in the Wall Street Journal and that report seems to me to the best of my knowledge to have come from Egyptian intelligence. And at the end of the day, what it asserts is just that this character Jamal may have run a training camp someplace and people who had been at that training camp may have been involved in the attack. So it’s…to my mind a bogus connection and also a tenuous connection and it is certainly not a connection that the New York Times has ever put its weight behind.
The Jamal network’s role in Benghazi cannot be both “bogus” and “tenuous,” of course. Either there are ties, however tenuous, or there are not. In reality, the Jamal network’s role is neither “bogus,” nor “tenuous.”
Three current U.S. intelligence officials tell THE WEEKLY STANDARD that no new information has cast doubt on the Jamal network’s role in Benghazi. Each of the U.S. intelligence officials said that it is their current assessment that Jamal’s network was directly involved.
The United Nations Security Council’s Al Qaeda Sanctions Committee also finds reports of the Jamal network’s involvement to be credible.
In its October 18, 2013 designation of Jamal and his network as al Qaeda-affiliated terrorists, the UN noted the following with respect to Jamal:
Reported to be involved in the attack on the United States Mission in Benghazi, Libya, on 11 Sep. 2012.
The UN also wrote in reference to the Muhammad Jamal Network (MJN):
MJN members were reported to be involved in the attack on the United States Mission in Benghazi, Libya, on 11 Sep. 2012.
There are multiple additional problems with Kirkpatrick’s explanation.
Kirkpatrick claims that the Times never “put its weight behind” behind the Jamal network’s connection to Benghazi. But the Times did not cast doubt on this connection when its sources previously told them about it. It's not even clear what Kirkpatrick means. Either the Times’s sources were right or they were wrong. Either the report was accurate or it wasn't. If it wasn't, if Kirkpatrick thinks something the paper once reported as fact is now “tenuous” or even “bogus,” shouldn't he explain why?
Here is the language from the Times’s October 29, 2012 report:
Three Congressional investigations and a State Department inquiry are now examining the attack, which American officials said included participants from Ansar al-Shariah, Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and the Muhammad Jamal network, a militant group in Egypt.
Kirkpatrick says that this passage cited congressional officials. The Times’s sources are described only as “American officials.” Note that this sentence does not just cite Congressional investigations, but also a “State Department inquiry.”