U.S. points to group led by Guantanamo detainee in Benghazi attack
January 9th, 2014
12:23 AM ET

U.S. points to group led by Guantanamo detainee in Benghazi attack

By Elise Labott

The State Department will soon designate a militia led by a former Guantanamo Bay detainee as a terrorist group and connect it to the deadly 2012 Benghazi attack, U.S. officials familiar with the decision told CNN.

Officials said militants under the command Sufian bin Qumu took part in the armed assault on the U.S. diplomatic compound that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.

Qumu is the leader of the group Ansar al-Sharia in the eastern Libyan city of Darnah, one of several militias believed to be responsible for the attack.

The group also has branches in Benghazi and Libya. Officials said the State Department is expected to designate all three branches as foreign terrorist organizations in coming days. FULL POST

November 16th, 2012
06:47 AM ET

What is Ansar al Sharia, and was it behind the consulate attack in Benghazi?

By Tim Lister and Paul Cruickshank

Former CIA Director David Petraeus is expected to tell House and Senate committees Friday that soon after the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, it suspected Ansar al Sharia was responsible. But just what is Ansar al Sharia, and why wasn't it identified as a prime suspect two months ago?

There is no easy answer.

Ansar al Sharia is more a label than an organization, one that's been adopted by conservative Salafist groups across the Arab world. The name means, simply, "Partisans of Islamic Law."

FULL STORY
October 24th, 2012
11:38 PM ET

Doubts surface over e-mail on claim of responsibility for Benghazi attack

By CNN's Tim Lister and Paul Cruickshank

The often fiercely political debate over who knew what - and when - about the September 11 assault on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi has taken another turn with the disclosure of a series of e-mails sent from the State Department on the night of the attack.

But the most explosive of the e-mails - which were released late Tuesday - may have been inaccurate, a "spot report" on a rapidly evolving and highly confusing situation.

The disclosure of the e-mail has given new life to the already fevered debate over when the Obama administration learned that the attack was more than a protest that turned deadly but was the work of terrorists.

The e-mail carried the subject line: "Update 2: Ansar al Sharia Claims Responsibility For Benghazi Attack." The message said: "Embassy Tripoli reports the group has claimed responsibility on Facebook and Twitter and has called for an attack on Embassy Tripoli."

That message was sent to a wide range of federal offices, including the FBI, from the State Department at 6:07 p.m. ET on September 11 - seven minutes into September 12 in Libya. At that time, the attack on the consulate was ongoing, and the subsequent assault on the annex building, in which two more Americans would be killed, had not begun.

FULL POST

October 24th, 2012
08:21 PM ET

US intel believes some Benghazi attackers tied to al Qaeda in Iraq

By Suzanne Kelly, Pam Benson and Elise Labott

U.S. intelligence believes that assailants connected to al Qaeda in Iraq were among the core group that attacked the diplomatic mission in Benghazi, a U.S. government official told CNN.

That would represent the second al Qaeda affiliate associated with the deadly September 11 attack that killed U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.

Previously, intelligence officials said there were signs of connections to al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, the North African wing of the terror group.

The revelation that members of al Qaeda in Iraq are suspected of involvement in the Libya attack comes at a time when there is a growing number of fighters from that group also taking part in the Syrian civil war.

FULL POST

In Yemen, an emboldened al Qaeda
March 13th, 2012
10:07 AM ET

In Yemen, an emboldened al Qaeda

By Paul Cruickshank, Pam Benson and Tim Lister

On the maps of Yemen it's called Jaar - a dusty, dilapidated sort of place with a population of some 40,000. But the group that has controlled Jaar for the past year, al Qaeda affiliate Ansar al Shariah, has changed the town's name to the Emirate of Qar.

Now Jaar is in the cross hairs of both U.S. and Saudi counter-terrorism agencies, following Ansar al Shariah's attack on a military base near Zinjibar on the coast about 20 miles (28 kilometers) away. The group seized large amounts of weaponry and took more than 70 Yemeni soldiers hostage.  It is threatening to kill its captives unless about 300 al Qaeda members in Yemeni jails are freed. FULL POST