The U.S. Ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens, and three staff members at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi were murdered Tuesday night, September 11, just after memorial ceremonies were held in America for the victims of the 9/11 outrage. Debkafile’s counter-terror sources report exclusively that far from being a spontaneous raid by angry Islamists, it was a professionally executed terrorist operation by a professional Al Qaeda assassination team, whose 20 members acted under the orders of their leader, Ayman al Zawahri, after special training. They were all Libyans, freed last year from prisons where they were serving sentences for terrorism passed during the late Muammar Qaddafi’s rule.
In a videotape released a few hours before the attack, Zawahri called on the faithful to take revenge on the United States for liquidating one of the organization’s top operatives, Libyan-born Abu Yahya al-Libi in June by a U.S. drone in northwestern Pakistan. Its release was the “go” signal for the hit team to attack the U.S. diplomats in Benghazi.
To mask their mission, they stormed the consulate on the back of a violent protest by hundreds of Islamists against a film said to insult Muhammad produced by Florida real-estate agent Sam Bacile, who has been described as of Israeli origin.
The operation is rated by terror experts as the most ambitious outrage Al Qaeda has pulled off in the last decade. According to Debkafile sources, the gunmen split into two groups of 10 each and struck in two stages:
1. They first fired rockets at the consulate building, on the assumption that the ambassador’s bodyguards would grab him, race him out of the building, and drive him to a safe place under the protection of the U.S. Secret Service.
2. The second group was able to identify the getaway vehicle and the ambassador’s armed escort and lay in wait to ambush them. The gunmen then closed in and killed the ambassador and his bodyguards at point-blank range.
Debkafile’s intelligence sources report that the investigation launched by U.S. counter-terror and clandestine services is focusing on finding out why no clue was picked up of the coming attack by any intelligence body and how Al Qaeda’s preparations for the attack which took place inside Libya went unnoticed by any surveillance authority. (DEBKAfile) v