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News Analysis

Exclusive: Did Turkey Play a Role in Benghazi Attack?

Wed, October 31, 2012

by: 
Clare Lopez

If reporting from the Washington Times is accurate, it looks like the Turkish Consul General Ali Sait Akin was in on the plot to attack the U.S. mission in Benghazi. According to an October 27, 2012 report, Libyan witnesses from the Benghazi neighborhood where the U.S. compound was located told reporters from the Associated Press (AP) that “150 bearded gunmen, some wearing the Afghan-style tunics favored by Islamic militants began sealing off the streets” leading to the facility “around nightfall.”

The Department of State “Background Briefing on Libya,” provided by telephone to reporters on October 9, 2012 states that Ambassador Christopher Stevens held his last meeting of the day on September 11 with the Turkish diplomat from 7:30pm to 8:30pm and then escorted him out to the compound gate to bid farewell. At that point, the briefing states, “Everything is calm at 8:30 p.m. There’s nothing unusual.”

But the AP witnesses said that, “The neighbors all described the militants setting up checkpoints around the compound at about 8 p.m.” The checkpoints were described as being manned by bearded jihadis in pickup trucks mounted with heavy machine guns and bearing the logo of the Al-Qaeda terror franchise, Ansar al-Shariah.

That means that the Turkish Consul General would have had to pass out through the blockade as he departed the American compound and left the area. There is no record that he phoned a warning to his American colleague, the one he’d just had dinner with, Ambassador Stevens. Given the description of the blockade around the American compound and of the jihadis and their trucks that were manning it, it seems unlikely that the he somehow just failed to notice. “[N]o one could get out or in,” according to one neighbor interviewed by the AP.

Except for the Turkish Consul General, it would appear.

Stevens was a sitting duck, a target surrounded by the jihadist attackers who shortly would take his life and that of his Public Affairs Officer, Sean Smith.

Similarly, this raises the question of the Libyan gate guards from the "February 17 Martyrs Brigade," the jihadi militia subcontracted by the British firm Blue Mountain, which was the prime contractor for the U.S. Benghazi compound security contract.

What did they know and when did they know it?  Even if the Americans, inside the buildings behind the compound walls and getting ready to retire for the night, were not aware of what was happening in the streets around them, the Libyans of the Martyrs Brigade surely must have been. Yet they provided no warning to the Ambassador and his people either, because again, according to the State Department briefing, the American security officers inside were taken by surprise when the first gunshots and explosions rang out around 9:40 pm.

The State Department must have known much of this when it provided the briefing. So must have the Central Intelligence Agency, the Department of Defense, the National Security Council and the White House. More than likely, the State Department knew in advance of the Ambassador’s meeting schedule for that day, including his plans for a final dinner meeting with Akin.

To date, however, none of them has mentioned the curious circumstance that Ali Sait Akin knew the American Ambassador and his staff at the Benghazi compound were being set up for slaughter and did nothing to warn them.

The topic of discussion between the Ambassador and his dinner guest has not been revealed, but it would seem to be of even more significance now that it has become obvious the Turkish diplomat and by extension, his government, were at least to some degree complicit in the attack against Ambassador Stevens and the others.

Clare Lopez is a senior fellow at RadicalIslam.org and a strategic policy and intelligence expert with a focus on the Middle East, national defense and counterterrorism. Lopez served for 25 years as an operations officer with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

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