I’m pleased that the Obama Administration has come around to my conclusion that terrorists planned the assassination of US Ambassador Christopher Stevens in Benghazi, Libya. No one, however, has said that the alleged pretext for the Muslim protests was a planned distraction to cover the pending attack.
Today’s NY Post editorial claims that US intelligence agencies and the State Department ignored warnings about a growing terrorist threat in Benghazi emanating from a desert town called Derna. Surprisingly, Rachel Maddow first spoke about Derna as a hotbed for terrorism and began to connect the scattered dots.
While the Post blames the Obama Administration for not taking steps to protect Ambassador Stevens, they don’t castigate the Bush Administration for transferring Abu Sufian bin Qumu — the alleged mastermind of the Stevens plot — from Gitmo to Libyan custody in 2007. It should be noted that the Bush Administration restored full diplomatic ties to Libya in May 2006.
Fox News reports that the seasoned Libyan terrorist Abu Sufian bin Qumu is believed to have led, if not planned, the bloody assault.
Who is Qumu? The Libyan government called him a “dangerous man with no qualms about committing terrorist acts.” And the United States considered him “likely to pose a threat to the US, its interests and allies” if he were ever released from Gitmo.
So why was he free to kill again? In 2007, the US transferred him to Libyan custody; the next year, Libyan dictator Moammar Khadafy released him in a blanket amnesty for Libyan terrorists.
The presence of jihadists in Libya shouldn’t have surprised the White House. Qumu’s home of Derna, 180 miles from Benghazi, is a one-industry town: It produces suicide bombers by the busload.
It’s not surprising that the Post and Fox News would blame the Obama Administration (“heavy is the head that wears the crown”) but had the Bush brain trust not released Qumu, Ambassador Stevens would probably be alive today. Yes, the government of Moammar Khadafy released Qumu. Americans certainly should question the Bush team’s judgment in transferring a terrorist (presumably captured on the battlefield in Iraq/Afghanistan) into the hands of the same Khadafy government that planned and financed the Lockerbie and LaBelle Disco bombings, plus other acts of terrorism targeting Americans.
The Bush Administrations rehabilitation of Libya was remarkable and breathtaking in its speed and depth. Within weeks of Abu Qumu’s repatriation, the US ceased blocking Libya from a seat on the UN Security Council, began normalizing relations, spoke of sending Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice to Tripoli, and the Libyan government talked about investing in US markets and granting oil drilling concessions to US companies. Hmm.
Investors Business Daily’s editorial offered more details that the Post’s editorial.
Qumu was transferred on Sept. 28, 2007, to Libyan custody on the condition that he be held in a Libyan prison. Instead, Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi in 2010 freed him from the notorious Abu Salim prison in Tripoli, along with 37 other prisoners, to celebrate the dictator’s 41st year in power.
There are many questions that need to be asked and fully answered. Many of those questions will be uncomfortable and disquieting. I suspect that Ambassador Stevens didn’t want a beefed up security team, preferring instead to trust his Libyan allies.
Regarding the presence of US Marines at the US Consulate in Benghazi, Marines are assigned to guard US Embassies, not consular offices. The US State Department has a security service and contractors to provide protection as needed. Unfortunately on the anniversary of 9/11, the need to cultivate good relations and Ambassador Stevens naivete trumped his personal safety.
I hope that we get to the bottom of the decision to release Qumo to kill Americans. As I type these thoughts, I am confident that President Obama’s ‘Jack Bauer’ is closing in on Abu Qumu and his gang.