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It was Sept. 11.
These were some of the reasons intelligence officials and Libyan analysts cited Wednesday in suggesting that the killing of U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three of his American colleagues was not the work of an angry mob, but a planned assault by an Al Qaeda-inspired organization.
“These are acts committed by uncontrollable jihadist groups,” the president of the counter-extremism think tank wrote in a statement early Wednesday.
Citing unnamed Libyan sources, Benotman said the attack was the work of about 20 militants, primed for a military assault. While Libya remains awash with weapons, Benotman claimed it was rare to see a rocket-propelled grenade at what began as a peaceful protest.
Benotman also said the two-stage attack was well co-ordinated and left U.S. officials vulnerable as they fled.
Obama administration officials later suggested a similar narrative, telling the New York Times that while the circumstances of the killings remain unclear, the suspicion was that an organized group took advantage of the protests or had provoked the demonstrations as a cover.
The group claimed responsibility for a failed bombing attempt in June, saying it was in retaliation for the death of senior Al Qaeda member Abu Yahya al Libi — the same commander whose killing Zawahiri lamented Tuesday.
“For what it’s worth, Ansar al Sharia said they were not involved,” Kohlmann said. “However, they said the response (to the film) was justified.”
Kohlmann said it was too early for any definitive answers. “Libya can be a pretty violent and crazy place and what ends up happening is you can get rogue factions operating,” he said.
“Those names are certainly familiar but I’ve never placed a lot of value in them because these groups can form and dissolve rather quickly,” Boisvert said.
“A number of foreign fighters remain in-country,” Boisvert said. “They are highly radicalized and are infecting or motivating others to act . . . they will continue to look for opportunities to strike against Western targets and symbols.”
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