The Egyptian government has nabbed a major terrorist tied to the Sept. 11, 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya, according to the Wall Street Journal. And that terrorist has direct, longstanding ties to al Qaeda leader Ayman al Zawahiri.
The captured terrorist is Muhammad Jamal al Kashef (a.k.a. Abu Ahmed), who served as a senior Egyptian Islamic Jihad (EIJ) terrorist in the 1990s and was imprisoned for years. The EIJ was headed by Ayman al Zawahiri, who merged the group with Osama bin Laden’s operation.
After his release from prison in 2011, Kashef established training camps in Egypt and Libya. Some of Kashef’s trainees took part in the Benghazi attack, according to multiple reports.
Kashef is the most senior terrorist detained in connection with the Benghazi attack to date. Importantly, the publicly-available details of his biography show that he has numerous al Qaeda connections.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Kashef “petitioned al Qaeda leader Ayman al Zawahiri to establish a new Qaeda affiliate he called al Qaeda in Egypt” and also received financing from al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). Al Hayat, a London-based Arabic newspaper, previously reported that Zawahiri gave Jamal the go-ahead to launch terrorist attacks in Egypt, Libya, and elsewhere.
On October 24, Egyptian authorities raided an apartment in Nasr City, Cairo, arresting several terrorists in the process. One suspected terrorist was killed during the confrontation when one of his bombs detonated, setting the apartment building on fire.
The Nasr City terrorist cell has ties to Kashef, the attack in Benghazi, as well as al Qaeda’s operations inside Libya, the Egyptians say.
Days after the Nasr City raid, the Egyptians arrested Sheikh Adel Shehato, an EIJ official who openly declares his adherence to al Qaeda’s ideology. Shehato is accused of founding and financing the Nasr City cell. Shehato was reportedly arrested en route to Libya with a large sum of cash.
THE WEEKLY STANDARD previously reported on Kashef and Shehato. It was the Egyptians’ investigation of the Nasr City cell with help from American intelligence officials that led to Kashef’s arrest.
Shehato was one of several al Qaeda-linked jihadists who helped instigate the Sept. 11 protest in Cairo. The other jihadists who incited protesters in Cairo are part of Kashef’s circle, too. Later that same day, terrorists attacked the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, killing four Americans.
Thomas Joscelyn is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.