The Blog

Al Qaeda Responsible for 4 Attacks on U.S. Embassies in September

8:46 AM, Oct 3, 2012 • By THOMAS JOSCELYN
Widget tooltip
Single Page Print Larger Text Smaller Text Alerts

The attack in Benghazi came the month after a congressional report warned about al Qaeda’s growing presence in Libya. Ayman al Zawahiri has dispatched senior al Qaeda members to Libya to build a clandestine network that, according to the report’s authors, is on the verge of becoming a fully operational network.

Yemen (September 13) – The U.S. embassy in Sanaa was stormed after Sheikh Abdul Majeed al Zindani called for protests, according to the New York Times. Zindani is a known al Qaeda supporter.

In 2004, the U.S. Treasury Department added Zindani to its list of designated terrorist supporters, calling him an Osama bin Laden “loyalist.” Zindani “has a long history of working with bin Laden, notably serving as one of his spiritual leaders,” Treasury explained. Zindani “has been able to influence and support many terrorist causes, including actively recruiting for al Qaeda training camps” and “played a key role in the purchase of weapons on behalf of al Qaeda and other terrorists.”

Zindani oversees a network of radical schools, including Al Iman University in Sanaa. Al Iman’s graduates have included terrorists and extremists, including John Walker Lindh (the “American Taliban”) and al Qaeda operatives.

Zindani’s son, Mohamed, has previously called for attacks against the U.S. embassy in Sanaa. In March, according to published accounts, Mohamed al Zindani “called on his fellow Yemenis to raise the flag of Islam and wage war on the American infidels, starting with US ambassador to Yemen, Gerard Feierstein.”

In May, according to UPI, Mohamed al Zindani urged his “followers to rally to Ansar al Sharia, an offshoot of al-Qaida in the southern province of Abyan.” Ansar al Sharia in Yemen is, in fact, the sister organization of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).  Both are headed by Nasir al Wuhayshi, bin Laden’s former aide de camp in Afghanistan.

Tunisia (September 14) – The assault on the U.S. embassy in Tunis was orchestrated by a notorious al Qaeda terrorist named Seifallah ben Hassine, aka Abu Iyad al Tunisi. The embassy staff had already been evacuated, but Hassine’s mob ransacked American property, including cars and a school.

Hassine is the leader of Ansar al Sharia Tunisia. The Ansar al Sharia brand, as explained above, is being used by al Qaeda-linked groups in Libya, Yemen, and elsewhere.

Hassine was released from a Tunisian prison in 2011, after being convicted in 2003 of belonging to an al Qaeda-affiliated group. In 2000, Hassine co-founded the Tunisian Combatant Group (TCG). According to the United Nations, the TCG was created “in coordination with” al Qaeda.

Hassine reportedly met with both Osama bin Laden and Ayman al Zawahiri prior to the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Two days prior to the attacks, on September 9, 2001, two Tunisian assassins killed Northern Alliance leader Ahmed Shah Massoud. The assassins were supplied with forged passports by another senior TCG member. The hit on Massoud was an integral part of al Qaeda’s 9/11 plot as it removed a key American ally, and an enemy of the Taliban and al Qaeda, from the battlefield before the fight for Afghanistan even began.

Al Qaeda’s and Hassine’s TCG plotted terrorist attacks in Europe in early 2001. One of the plots targeted the U.S. embassy in Rome. In April 2001, Italian authorities arrested a dual TCG-al Qaeda operative in Italy who oversaw the plot. The plot was so serious, according to the State Department’s Patterns of Global Terrorism report for 2001, that the U.S. Embassies in Rome and the Vatican City, as well as the U.S. consulates in Naples and Milan, were closed to the public. It was the first time the embassy in Rome was closed since the Gulf War a decade earlier.

Thus, Hassine and his operatives have long targeted U.S. diplomatic facilities.

Other Al Qaeda-linked Embassy Riots and Protests

Recent Blog Posts

The Weekly Standard Archives

Browse 19 Years of the Weekly Standard

Old covers