September 14th, 2012
07:43 PM ET

In attack aftermath, disagreement over how it began

By Adam Levine

As the investigation into the deadly attack on the U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya, continues, there is disagreement about whether the violence was a result of a mob gone awry, a planned terror attack or a combination of the two.

The White House said Friday there was no indication before the attack in Libya this week that something was in the works beforehand.

"We were not aware of any actionable intelligence indicating that an attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi was planned or imminent," presidential spokesman Jay Carney said.

The comment came as a top Libyan official and some within Congress and other aspects of the U.S. government said there are signs now that the attack on the consulate that killed the ambassador and three other Americans was not a spontaneous outgrowth of a mob angered by an anti-Muslim film.

A U.S. official told CNN's Suzanne Kelly that American intelligence was sufficiently concerned about the attention the movie was receiving online to warn the embassy in Egypt in a bulletin a few days before protesters stormed that compound in Cairo on Tuesday, the same day the consulate in Libya was attacked by armed militants.

The warning did not specify a threat and the source did not say if that intelligence bulletin was sent to American diplomats in Libya.

Several American officials have told CNN this week there was no intelligence in advance that there was a plot in the making. Some officials have said it does not appear it was a fully planned ahead of time.

But a senior U.S. official told CNN's Barbara Starr on Friday that while the United States is not ready to draw a conclusion about whether the attack was spontaneous or planned, there is some evidence pointing to the notion there was a level of organization and planning behind it, given the extensive nature of the attack.

Moreover, a congressional source told CNN's Suzanne Kelly on Friday that there is disagreement within the intelligence community over whether this was planned. When pressed individually, some analysts have hedged, according to the source.

The Libyan government believes the Benghazi attack was planned and intended to inflict maximum damage, a top Libyan official told CNN's Arwa Damon.

Mohammed al-Megaryef, the president of Libya's ruling General National Congress, said the attacks were carried out by extremists with the intent of driving apart Libyans and Americans and sabotaging the relationship.

The information points more to the attack having started as a spontaneous protest that lasted for hours before metastasizing into a more organized attack, according to Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, D-Maryland.

Ruppersberger and other members of the House Intelligence Committee were briefed Friday by Central Intelligence Agency Director David Petraeus.

"In the beginning, we feel that it was spontaneous – the protest – because it went on for two or three hours, which very [is] relevant because if it was something that was planned then they could have come and attacked right away," Ruppersberger said.

Ruppersberger spoke to reporters after the briefing and said he believes the attack was by an al-Qaeda related extremist group.

Senator John McCain, R-Arizona, told reporters that in his opinion the incident was a terrorist attack, in part because of the use of rocket propelled grenades.

McCain, who had just left a briefing by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, observed the weaponry is not what a normal protester would bring to demonstrate, according to CNN's Kate Bolduan and Ted Barrett.

"It's hard to know exactly what took place and how long it was planned. I don't have that information," McCain said. "The reporting is that 15 people, with beards, with weapons, such as RPGs [rocket-propelled grenades] - people don't go to demonstrate and carry RPGs and automatic weapons. I mean, the facts on its face indicate this was not a mob action by a group of protesters."

"It was a terrorist attack, organized and carried out by terrorists," McCain said.

Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin said there are indications the attack was planned in advance.

"I think there's evidence of that. There's been evidence of that," Levin, D-Michigan, said after the Panetta briefing. "I don't think we know whether they were connecting it to the protests but the attack looked like it was planned and premeditated, sure. But I don't think there was evidence that it was a coming."

The top Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee agreed that while it does look like this was an organized attack, there was no indication the attack was coming.

"This was not just a mob that got out of hand. Mobs don't come in and attack, guns blazing," Rep. Adam Smith, D-Washington, in an interview with CNN." I think that there is a growing consensus it was preplanned, but please understand that is entirely different thing from saying we had intelligence about it. The people who did it, and it is looking increasingly like it was preplanned, we didn't have intelligence of their planning operation."

State Department Under Secretary Patrick Kennedy has said that the attack appeared to be planned because it was so extensive and because of the "proliferation" of small and medium weapons at the scene, a congressional source said earlier. He was briefing congressional staffers earlier this week when he offered that theory.

The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee said earlier this week that it was a targeted attack.

"It is - it was clearly a coordinated attack, a well-coordinated attack, I might add, that was specifically planned to do and accomplish what you saw unfortunately unfold in Benghazi," said Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Michigan, in an interview on CNN's Situation Room.

But on Friday, Rogers' spokeswoman said that the congressman was making his own conclusion from what he had been told in briefings.

"The evidence that Congressman Rogers has seen does not definitively say one way or another whether the attack was planned or not," said Susan Phalen, the communications director for the intelligence panel. "But as a former FBI agent, this seems to make the most sense to him."

Given what officials know about al Qaeda in Libya, intelligence officials believe it is very unlikely that core al Qaeda was behind the attack, a U.S. intelligence official told CNN on condition of anonymity. But the official said the intelligence does not rule out that the attack was perpetrated by al Qaeda sympathizers, though officials are not ready to identify a specific group.

"In Libya there are many elements, including al-Qaeda. I think it's pretty clear that they would have had some involvement but again whether it was after the fact, whether there was a spontaneous demonstration that they tried to take advantage of, again all this is still very fluid," said the House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Peter King, R-New York.

There is a continuing question as to whether a message from al Qaeda's leader Ayman al-Zawahiri was influential in spurning the attack.

His specific call in a 9/11-anniversary video for Libyan Jihadists to attack Americans to avenge death of Abu Yahya al Libi was circulating at least 18 hours before the attack on the compound, according to terror analyst Ben Venzke of IntelCenter, leaving open the possibility that it played a role.

But Venzke told CNN terror analyst Paul Cruickshank that given the timing, it is hard to believe the message from Zawahiri instigated the attack in Libya.

"Based on more than a decade of threat analysis we have carried out, it would be unusual to have such a rapid correlation between a threat statement and an attack, but it is not outside the realm of possibility," Venzke said.

He said any statement of the kind made by Zawahiri would be taken seriously. However he said those providing threat assessments would not normally expect anything to happen within 24 hours.

He stressed Zawahiri's threat was only three lines in a forty something minute video tape. Given the language in the tape, analysts would tend not to have concluded an immediate attack was likely.

Post by:
Filed under: Barack Obama • Congress • Libya • White House
soundoff (440 Responses)
  1. sildenafil 100mg viagra generic name

    February 25, 2021 at 6:24 pm | Reply
  2. plaquenil skin side effects

    erectile band plaquenil classification erectile tension rings

    February 24, 2021 at 2:26 am | Reply
  3. Labxreext

    cialis ou viagra forum cialis tablete nuspojave levitra viagra cialis which is best

    February 17, 2021 at 6:52 am | Reply
  4. KvaxVelm

    high street payday loans online money in my account today loans small cash loans auckland

    February 16, 2021 at 9:02 pm | Reply
  5. Jbbnreext

    cialis uso diario bula what happens when you take too much cialis logo de cialis

    February 16, 2021 at 12:31 am | Reply
  6. Jbnvclups

    payday loans pay back over 3 months canada payday loans in southaven ms what happens if you can't pay back a cash advance

    February 15, 2021 at 6:12 pm | Reply
  7. Fbsgfiple

    cheap cialis tablets female cialis cheap cialis pills men

    February 13, 2021 at 9:49 pm | Reply
  8. Abcfallogegen

    viagra headquarters how to get prescribed viagra where can i buyt generic viagra

    February 13, 2021 at 9:49 pm | Reply
  9. Fqbbreext

    peachy cash loans instant online cash loans for blacklisted cash loans gloucester

    February 13, 2021 at 2:31 am | Reply
  10. Nbnhfiple

    how to get viagra in india buy generic viagra online from india

    February 11, 2021 at 9:22 pm | Reply
  11. Ahbzreext

    purchase rate cash advance rate how does a bank cash advance work cash advance in tappahannock va

    February 11, 2021 at 5:23 am | Reply
  12. KbcxVelm

    blood pressure canadian pharmacy reviews ordering prescriptions from canada legally

    February 9, 2021 at 11:25 am | Reply
  13. Lbsxreext

    herbals fastest delivery of mail order viagra global pharmacy canada

    February 9, 2021 at 10:05 am | Reply
  14. Jbnbclups

    mexican pharmacies online cialis super active canada online pharmacies

    February 8, 2021 at 6:43 am | Reply
  15. Jbbvreext

    online rx pharmacy viagra super active price prescription drugs

    February 8, 2021 at 5:14 am | Reply
  16. Aqcfallogegen

    cialis 20 mg cost tadalafil cialis bestprice truth behind generic cialis

    February 7, 2021 at 10:52 am | Reply
  17. Fvfcfiple

    quick delivery viagra but viagra with no prescription viagra sample

    February 6, 2021 at 7:24 am | Reply
  18. Fqhhreext

    discount prescription drug non prescription online pharmacy reviews online pharmacy india

    February 5, 2021 at 10:53 pm | Reply
  19. Ahkdreext

    canadian drugs without prescription pharmacy in canada cvs pharmacy online

    February 4, 2021 at 7:55 am | Reply
  20. Nncsfiple

    trust pharmacy canada viagra fedex overnight where to buy viagra on line

    February 3, 2021 at 8:47 pm | Reply
  21. KbbgVelm

    generic viagra no prescription australia canada pharmacies/account viagra dapoxetine australia – buy online prescription drugs ’

    February 1, 2021 at 11:30 am | Reply
  22. Jacelyn Honsberger

    This is a very interesting article. Please, share more like this!

    February 1, 2021 at 10:18 am | Reply
  23. Agnus Desan

    This is a very interesting article. Please, share more like this!

    February 1, 2021 at 7:59 am | Reply
  24. Jnscclups

    viagra without prescriptions canada buy generic viagra original viagra online – cheap generic viagra ’

    January 31, 2021 at 9:34 pm | Reply
  25. Fhnhfiple

    Dulcolax Zenegra pharmacy online store – Doxycycline ’

    January 31, 2021 at 11:50 am | Reply
  26. Fmnfreext

    cialis generico cialis international cialis black – cialis con alimentos ’

    January 31, 2021 at 1:18 am | Reply
  27. Ngscfiple

    viagra 10 how to get viagra in mexico viagra 4 tablets – sildenafil 50mg tablets in india ’

    January 30, 2021 at 9:46 am | Reply
  28. Ahmdreext

    where to buy generic cialis ? Microzide cialis no prescription – my canadian pharmacy ’

    January 30, 2021 at 1:55 am | Reply
  29. KbbtVelm

    online cialis canada Tenormin buy cialis in canada – canadian pharmacy kingcanadian viagra ’

    January 27, 2021 at 5:30 am | Reply
  30. Jnhclups

    cialis free trial purchase brand cialis cost of cialis 20mg – cialis mit paypal bezahlen ’

    January 26, 2021 at 3:31 pm | Reply
  31. Fbgfiple

    viagra geniric buy real viagra with a echeck shelf life of viagra – viagra online ’

    January 26, 2021 at 5:43 am | Reply
  32. Fmfvreext

    cialis in melbourne australia cialis 20 mg, best price brand cialis trial pack – cialis without presciption ’

    January 25, 2021 at 6:18 pm | Reply
  33. Nmilfiple

    buy viagra no prescription australia viagra for sale in florida 2 day shipping viagra – cost of viagra 100mg ’

    January 25, 2021 at 3:30 am | Reply
  34. Ahmdreext

    cialis buy india montreal drug cialis cialis professionel – cialis 20mg ’

    January 24, 2021 at 6:56 pm | Reply
  35. KbctVelm

    cialis cheaper 20mg cialis buy cialis uk – generic cialis india ’

    January 22, 2021 at 8:42 pm | Reply
  36. Jvcbxclups

    cialis 10mg price where can i buy cialis online cialis on sale – buy cialis ’

    January 22, 2021 at 6:56 am | Reply
  37. Fbdhfiple

    get online cialis without prescription overnight cialis generic online uk black cialis from singapore – cialis no script ’

    January 21, 2021 at 10:05 am | Reply
  38. Lcxreext

    viagra no prescription paypal overnight viagra low cost viagra generic – viagra in cape town ’

    January 21, 2021 at 2:56 am | Reply
  39. Nlbxfiple

    cialis 20mg price cialis for daily use cost splitting cialis – cialis in canada pharmacy ’

    January 20, 2021 at 8:21 am | Reply
  40. Aqbvreext

    prescription no viagra australia viagra australia over the counter wild viagra ВЈ – buy viagra ’

    January 20, 2021 at 12:31 am | Reply
  41. Jbdcreext

    superdrug herbal viagra buy real viagra viagra sales aurtarlia – buy viagra germany ’

    January 19, 2021 at 12:52 pm | Reply
  42. KlioVelm

    prescription less viagra viagra online mastercard buy viagra online in australia\' clicks viagra price what doctor prescribes viagra viagra u viagra from china generic viagra 100 how i can buy viagra without prescription in chicago mustang viagra viagra plus dapoxetine viagra for women reviews discussion on viagra order viagra onlin dr viagra buy viagra usa

    January 18, 2021 at 6:09 am | Reply
  43. Jvcxclups

    how much viagra is safe to take where i can get viagra in sydney order viagra with pay pal by viagra online buy viagra generic online order viagra online without script vardenafil vs viagra viagra online in usa viagra for sale in melbourne quick viagra viagra cialis melbourne site:au viagra discounts viagra for sale in usa with no prescription brand viagra buy viagra in atlanta in a store

    January 17, 2021 at 12:49 pm | Reply
  44. Fgnhfiple

    viagra knock offs viagra with dapoxetine buy brand viagra viagra discounts how to talk to a doctor about viagra i need viagra today cipla viagra canada viagra for sale viagra online over nigth shiping buy viagra gold viagra 150 mg getting viagra in malaysia viagra pillsm viagra sales aurtarlia viagra for no prisiption

    January 16, 2021 at 9:34 am | Reply
  45. Nlbxfiple

    viagra super active viagra tablets in india what\'s better viagra cialis levitra cheap viagra 50 mg viagra and cialis buy viagra online overnight viagra free trial offer buy viagra without a perscription viagra discounts viagra sales australia mail order viagra online pharmacy viagra dapoxetine viagra samples canada wholesale viagra cialis viagra buy australia no delivery

    January 15, 2021 at 7:40 am | Reply
  46. KhthVelm

    save on pharmacy best drugstore bb cream pharmacy open near me

    January 13, 2021 at 4:20 am | Reply
  47. Fgvdfiple

    corner drug store medical pharmacy ed pills online

    January 12, 2021 at 6:54 am | Reply
  48. Lokureext

    erectile dysfunction pills erectile dysfunction drug ed meds online

    January 11, 2021 at 9:24 am | Reply
  49. Fwsxreext

    medical pharmacy canadian pharmacy generic viagra canadian pharmacy

    January 11, 2021 at 5:29 am | Reply
  50. Nllpfiple

    us online pharmacy global pharmacy canada best drugstore face wash

    January 11, 2021 at 4:05 am | Reply
  51. Aqwsreext

    best online pharmacy online drugstore cheap rx

    January 10, 2021 at 5:40 am | Reply
  52. Jtmfreext

    rx pharmacy texas state board of pharmacy canadian pharmacies online

    January 9, 2021 at 5:55 pm | Reply
  53. Frances Poulter

    Hey there, wonderful blog… really enjoy it and added into my social bookmarks. Keep up the good work

    December 20, 2020 at 7:25 pm | Reply
  54. Dvnjfiple

    viagra no prescriptin gold viagra buy viagra without prescription

    December 17, 2020 at 8:36 pm | Reply
  55. Jgsvclups

    viagra without rx bolton viagra can i buy viagra over the counter in usa

    December 14, 2020 at 10:44 am | Reply
  56. Fgrsreext

    cheapviagra overnight delivery guaranteed viagra viagra usa rezeptfrei

    December 14, 2020 at 3:29 am | Reply
  57. Fhsnfiple

    viking_sun viagra viagra newsletter sign up viagra trial packs without prescription

    December 13, 2020 at 8:38 pm | Reply
  58. Dvncfiple

    cialis in usa best generic cialis brand cialis

    December 12, 2020 at 9:10 pm | Reply
  59. Fbsbreext

    buy cialis india cialis generic vs brand cialis 20mg uk

    December 12, 2020 at 3:01 am | Reply
  60. KhedVelm

    quick viagra cheaper viagra pills viagra online paypal

    December 11, 2020 at 6:42 am | Reply
  61. Fsfgreext

    generic viagra paypal gold viagra x1 generic viagra soft tabs

    December 10, 2020 at 1:45 pm | Reply
  62. Fqbfreext

    buy cialis on line overnight cialis at ВЈ2 per tablet cheap cialis pills

    December 8, 2020 at 11:46 pm | Reply
  63. Fgnsfiple

    cialis daily pricing where can i buy original cialis cialis shipping

    December 8, 2020 at 10:51 pm | Reply
  64. Fnrdreext

    viagra soft how much does viagra cost with out insurance viagra 100mg pfizer

    December 4, 2020 at 10:01 am | Reply
  65. Dvscfiple

    thesis statement for process essay cheap custom research papers cheap essay writing the help movie essay

    December 3, 2020 at 6:15 am | Reply
  66. Jgscclups

    college essay for sale help writing college papers

    December 2, 2020 at 11:43 pm | Reply
  67. Ftghreext

    essay on self help is the best help writing a college essay paper buy essay without getting caught

    December 2, 2020 at 10:37 pm | Reply
  68. Fnsbreext

    winning college essays affordable custom research papers writing college essays for money

    December 2, 2020 at 10:10 pm | Reply
  69. KwgdVelm

    essays 4 students ucf college essay essay research

    November 29, 2020 at 6:15 pm | Reply
  70. Fsfreext

    research paper service college essays editor professional essay writing service

    November 29, 2020 at 1:17 pm | Reply
  71. Fnrhreext

    generic viagra online overnight delivery california viagra ordering viagra 100 mg

    November 29, 2020 at 3:24 am | Reply
  72. Fgsfiple

    writing paper online help with phd dissertation help with math homework

    November 29, 2020 at 12:43 am | Reply
  73. Fqfreext

    research paper subheadings help to do assignment homework help for students

    November 28, 2020 at 7:12 pm | Reply
  74. Jsweclups

    viagra sale price of 100mg viagra generic viagra for sale cheap

    November 27, 2020 at 9:09 am | Reply
  75. Fmsgreext

    viagra jaki ma kolor was ist unterschied zwischen viagra und cialis why viagra was invented

    November 24, 2020 at 6:42 pm | Reply
  76. KbrgVelm

    pharmacy viagra canada purchase viagra from canada online viagra store

    November 24, 2020 at 1:07 pm | Reply
  77. adidas superstar mens black and white

    Is this the final Air Jordan XX9 release before the Low and the rumored Air Jordan 11/XX9 Pack.
    adidas superstar mens black and white

    March 24, 2017 at 10:54 am | Reply
  78. panorain

    Why do people have to keep going over this again and again? Both Obama and Hillary and Susan Rice have made it perfectly clear. There was this video see. And it insulted the prophet see. And it got them all so angry so after protesting for awhile they climbed over the walls of the consulate. Plus they had the RPGs and AK47s with them anyway see. Since that is how people in that part of the world ride.

    March 16, 2013 at 4:14 am | Reply
  79. Studio nagrań

    I don't even know the way I ended up here, but I assumed this post was once good. I do not recognise who you might be but definitely you're going to a famous blogger if you are not already. Cheers!

    March 11, 2013 at 2:22 am | Reply
  80. jordan melo m8 carmelo anthony basketball shoes grey orange

    If so please inform me by means of e-mail or perhaps reply to this kind of opinion since We enrolled in notifications and will understand should you choose.
    jordan melo m8 carmelo anthony basketball shoes grey orange

    January 14, 2013 at 1:29 pm | Reply
1 2 3

Post a comment


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.