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.


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.


North Korea's leader still a mystery
October 24th, 2012
05:24 PM ET

North Korea's leader still a mystery

By Chris Lawrence

The United States and South Korea still have no clear insight on the new leader of North Korea, Kim Jong Un, nearly a year after he replaced his father.

"We still don't know whether or not he will follow in the footsteps of his father, or whether he represents a different kind of leadership for the future," U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta admitted Wednesday.

Panetta made the comment at a news conference on Wednesday after security talks with his South Korean counterpart. The meetings included discussion of North Korea's young leader, who succeeded his father, Kim Jong Il, after his death in 2011.

October 24th, 2012
05:19 PM ET

'Millennium' plot bomber gets stiffer sentence – 37 years

By Carol Cratty

An al Qaeda terrorist known as the "Millennium Bomber" for a failed plot to detonate explosives at Los Angeles International Airport received a new and tougher sentence on Wednesday of 37 years behind bars.

Algerian Ahmed Ressam, 45, had twice received a sentence of 22 years but prosecutors argued for a stiffer penalty and an appeals court agreed. The matter was sent back to the trial court in Seattle where U.S. District Court Judge John Coughenour tacked on the additional time.

Ressam was arrested in November 1999 by U.S. Customs inspectors at the Canadian border as he tried to drive a car carrying explosives into the United States. His plan was to bomb the airport several weeks later on New Year's Eve.

After his conviction, Ressam started cooperating with prosecutors. He identified other terror suspects and gave the government detailed information about the inner workings of al Qaeda.

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Filed under: Al Qaeda • Terrorism
E-mails: White House knew of extremist claims in Benghazi attack
The US Consulate in Benghazi Libya after an attack that killed four Americans. (CNN Photo)
October 24th, 2012
09:50 AM ET

E-mails: White House knew of extremist claims in Benghazi attack

By Elise Labott

Two hours after the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, the White House, the State Department and the FBI were told that an Islamist group had claimed credit, government e-mails obtained by CNN show.

One of the e-mails - sent from a State Department address to various government agencies - specifically identifies Ansar al-Sharia as claiming responsibility for the attack on its Facebook page and on Twitter.

The e-mails raise further questions about the seeming confusion on the part of the Obama administration to determine the nature of the September attack and those who planned it.

The attack left U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans dead.