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Not a ‘Bogus’ Benghazi Connection

9:08 AM, Jan 1, 2014 • By THOMAS JOSCELYN
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Has Kirkpatrick or any of the Times’s other journalists gone back to the sources they cited in this sentence and asked them if they still think Jamal’s network was involved in Benghazi? What is the basis for Kirkpatrick’s new belief that Jamal and his trainees were not involved?

Kirkpatrick told CNN’s Cooper that the congressional officials he says were the source for the sentence above were merely referencing an earlier report in the Wall Street Journal. And, Kirkpatrick adds, he believes that “Egyptian intelligence” was the ultimate source for this information.

Here is the Wall Street Journal account, dated October 1, 2012, by Siobhan Gorman and Matt Bradley: “Militant Link to Libya Attack.”

There is no mention of Egyptian intelligence in it. It is worth noting that even if part of this intelligence had come from the Egyptians, that does not mean it was wrong. U.S. officials probably have consulted the Egyptians on Jamal’s activities.  

But this is how the WSJ said the Jamal network’s ties to Benghazi were discovered (emphasis added):

U.S. officials working with Libyans to investigate the consulate assault in Benghazi have identified some of the attackers and believe some are associates of [Jamal]. Also believed present were militants affiliated with other groups, including Ansar al Sharia, a local group, and al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, which has origins in Algeria.

So according to the WSJ, “U.S. officials working with Libyans” discovered that Jamal’s associates were among the attackers – not Egyptian intelligence.

There are two other noteworthy passages from the WSJ’s report. The second paragraph reads:

Fighters linked to one freed militant, Muhammad Jamal Abu Ahmad, took part in the Sept. 11 attack on U.S. diplomatic outposts in Libya that killed four Americans, U.S. officials believe based on initial reports. Intelligence reports suggest that some of the attackers trained at camps he established in the Libyan Desert, a former U.S. official said.

Again, part of this intelligence picture may very well have come from the Egyptians, but that is not what the WSJ account says. And the sources cited are U.S. officials, who had been independently looking into Jamal’s network.

The second additional noteworthy passage is this one:

U.S. spy agencies have been tracking [Jamal’s] activities for several months. The Benghazi attacks gave a major boost to his prominence in their eyes.

Therefore, the WSJ cites U.S. officials and says that U.S. officials, working in conjunction with the Libyans, had discovered the Jamal network’s ties to Benghazi. “U.S. spy agencies” had been “tracking” Jamal for months, when the Benghazi attacks “gave a major boost to his prominence in their eyes.”

None of this squares with what Kirkpatrick told Cooper.

A subsequent report by the WSJ’s Siobhan Gorman on December 7, 2012 reiterated the role of U.S. intelligence:

U.S. interest in [Jamal] intensified after U.S. intelligence officials identified operatives from his network at the scene of the fatal attack at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, officials say.

Once again, “U.S. intelligence officials” did the identifying. The WSJ added: “U.S. intelligence aided in [Jamal’s] capture, an official said.”

The Dec. 7, 2012 WSJ account, which was published more than one month after the Times’s report, notes that Egyptian officials connected members of Jamal’s Nasr City Cell, which was just a part of his overall operation, to Benghazi. But this was in addition to the work done by U.S. intelligence and U.S. officials could not confirm what the Egyptians were saying about the five specific members of the Nasr City Cell at the time.

It is easy to see why this reporting further complicates Kirkpatrick’s narrative. During interviews, he has tried to present his views as the consensus of U.S. intelligence. For instance, on NBC’s Meet the Press this past weekend, Kirkpatrick was asked how he could be sure that al Qaeda hadn’t played a role in the Benghazi terrorist attack.

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