Well, at least they can blame Bush for the Benghazi attack now.
U.S. officials suspect that a former Guantanamo Bay detainee played a role in the attack on the American diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, and are planning to designate the group he leads as a foreign terrorist organization, according to officials familiar with the plans.
Militiamen under the command of Abu Sufian bin Qumu, the leader of Ansar al-Sharia in the Libyan city of Darnah, participated in the attack that killed U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans, U.S. officials said.
Witnesses have told American officials that Qumu’s men were in Benghazi before the attack on Sept. 11, 2012, according to the officials. It’s unclear whether they were there as part of a planned attack or out of happenstance. The drive from Darnah to Benghazi takes several hours.
The State Department is expected to tie Qumu’s group to the Benghazi attack when it designates three branches of Ansar al-Sharia, in Darnah, Benghazi and Tunisia, as foreign terrorist organizations in the coming days.
In 2007, Qumu was released from the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and sent to Libya, where he was detained. The Libyan government released him in 2008.
He and two other men, militia leaders Ahmed Abu Khattala and Seif Allah bin Hassine, will be identified as “specially designated global terrorists,” a determination that allows U.S. officials to freeze their financial assets and bar American citizens and companies from doing business with them.
Why does any of this matter? As the New York Times recently insisted it was all a result of some obscure YouTube video nobody ever saw.
U.S. officials are also investigating whether any of the people involved in the Benghazi raid had a role in the killing of Ronnie Smith, an American schoolteacher who was gunned down while jogging in the city last month.
Lawless conditions in eastern Libya have frustrated U.S. efforts to investigate the attack in Benghazi and capture those responsible. U.S. officials scrapped a plan to snatch Khattala in Benghazi for fear that American action could trigger unrest and destabilize the Libyan government.
Frustrated their attempts? What attempts? By the way, this Washington Post story doesn’t exactly break new ground, as Fox News reported Qumu’s involvement 16 months ago.
Sufyan Ben Qumu is thought to have been involved and even may have led the attack, Fox News’ intelligence sources said. Qumu, a Libyan, was released from the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in 2007 and transferred into Libyan custody on the condition he be kept in jail. He was released by the Qaddafi regime as part of its reconciliation effort with Islamists in 2008.
His Guantanamo files also show he has ties to the financiers behind the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The declassified files also point to ties with the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, a known Al Qaeda affiliate.
Olsen, repeating Wednesday that the FBI is handling the Benghazi investigation, also acknowledged the attack could lead back to Al Qaeda and its affiliates.
“We are looking at indications that individuals involved in the attack may have had connections to Al Qaeda or Al Qaeda’s affiliates, in particular Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb,” he said at the Senate Homeland Security Committee hearing.
The left-wing organization that helped spring Qumu was the Center for Constitutional Rights. Last April, the group issued an indignant press release painting Qumu as a harmless victim and blasting those concerned about his unrepentant jihadi ways. After a trove of Gitmo documents found their way to Wikileaks and were published by the New York Times, CCR rose to Qumu’s defense and parroted jihadi propaganda that the aggrieved Qumu was actually a friend of the U.S.
The major law firms working on detainee cases do not downplay their connections to Ratner; to the contrary, many embrace him. One firm listed in CCR’s 2008 annual report as part of its “Global Justice Initiative” is Jenner & Block, where Obama associate attorney general Thomas Perrelli served as managing partner of the Washington, D.C., office. According to Jenner’s website, the firm has worked with CCR, which it describes as “spearheading the coordinated efforts of all counsel” in Guantánamo cases. Jenner and Ratner also share a client: Jose Padilla.
Another firm working with CCR is Covington & Burling, Eric Holder’s law firm for eight years before he became Barack Obama’s attorney general. The firm’s website proudly notes that in 2008 it received the Center for Constitutional Rights’s “Pro Bono Law Firm of the Year” award. According to the American Lawyer, Covington & Burling lawyers spent 3,022 hours on Guantánamo litigation in 2007, more than on any other pro bono effort that year.At an average rate of $400 per hour, that comes to more than $1.2 million in donated legal services. Other well-known law firms working with CCR in its Global Justice Initiative include Morrison & Foerster; Wilmer Hale; Sullivan & Cromwell; Manatt, Phelps & Phillips; Holland & Hart; Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison; Pillsbury, Winthrop, Shaw, Pittman; Shearman & Sterling. And there are many, many others.