While the White House and its still media allies are still mumbling about an offensive video, it is quite clear that the Mohammed movie was never anything but a distraction used by the Islamists to set the stage and by the Obama administration to avoid admitting that the attacks were not spontaneous protests, but planned assaults.
The reason that Obama and his associates have done everything possible to avoid describing the attack on the Benghazi consulate as a planned terrorist operation is because the difference between a spontaneous attack and a planned attack is that the failure to prevent a planned attack represents a serious intelligence failure.
Was the planned attack on the Benghazi consulate truly unknown ahead of time or was it a known element that was not taken seriously enough and allowed to go forward for political reasons?
American embassies in Africa had been a favorite target of Al Qaeda before September 11 and with the Arab Spring and the influx of jihadist fighters into North Africa, there was every reason to anticipate that an attack on the Benghazi consulate was coming.
During the summer a string of attacks had targeted consulates in Benghazi. While the American consulate was only struck by a bomb, the Tunisian consulate was overrun by a group of gunmen claiming to be protesting an art exhibit offensive to Islam. There were no shots fired and no casualties because the consulate staffers were absent that day.
The possibility that a Western ambassador would be attacked with heavy weapons had also made itself known that same summer when the British Ambassador’s convoy was attacked by an RPG in Benghazi. The Tunisian consulate and British convoy attacks together formed the template for the attack on the American consulate which was a larger and more sustained version of both of these attacks.
Everyone at the consulate and outside it, from Christopher Stevens to Sean Smith’s Internet pen pals, seemed to know that something was coming. Libyan security officials said that they gave three days warning to the United States. Diplomatic sources have claimed that the Obama administration had 48 hours warning and that the State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security had even issued an alert.
Beginning on September 11, 2012, a coordinated series of attacks by Salafis took place across the Middle East. The timing, targets and tactics all lead to the inescapable conclusion that these were not spontaneous protests, but were attacks that had been planned for months in advance in anticipation of a pivotal calendar date.
Coordination across so many different countries would have almost certainly been over the Internet, and intelligence agencies closely monitor forums frequented by members of Islamist groups. Even if there was no intelligence information that the attacks were coming a month ago, by the time that ordinary Salafists were nerving each other up for the protests, alarm bells should have been going off and likely did go off.
One open question is what exactly did all those warnings and alarm bells amount to? In a revealing slip, Libyan Interior Minister Wanis al-Sharif said, “The most we expected was taking down the American flag and burning it. We didn’t expect what happened to take place.”
That is likely what the Libyans passed on to the United States and what the State Department and the CIA anticipated would happen based on their intelligence: a larger scale repetition of the Tunisian consulate attacks similar to what had happened in Cairo and would continue happening in other cities the next day.
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