A controversial article from David D. Kirkpatrick of the New York Times published Saturday has received quite a bit of attention for claiming,
The terror attack in Benghazi on September 11, 2012 claimed the lives of U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, Foreign Service officer Sean Smith, and former Navy SEALs Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods.
New York Rep. Peter King said that Kirkpatrick's assertion is "misleading," as reported by Fox News, in that Ansar al-Sharia, an extremist Islamic group who are widely known to be behind the attack, is "believed to be an affiliate terror group of Al Qaeda."
Ironically, the New York Times reported in October, 2012,
"In the months leading up to the Sept. 11 attacks on the American diplomatic mission in Benghazi, the Obama administration received intelligence reports that Islamic extremist groups were operating training camps in the mountains near the Libyan city and that some of the fighters were 'Al Qaeda-leaning,' according to American and European officials." [emphasis added]
Kirkpatrick does not mention this report, in which he was a contributor, in his article on Saturday.
He also does not mention the attack on the CIA outpost in Benghazi just three months before the Sept. 11 attack.
Jomana Karadsheh and Nic Robertson of CNN reported in June, 2012,
"A Libyan security source told CNN a jihadist group that is suspected of carrying out the strike, the Imprisoned Omar Abdul Rahman Brigades, left leaflets at the scene claiming the attack was in retaliation for the death of Libyan al Qaeda No. 2 Abu Yahya al Libi."
So, even if the terrorists do not call themselves "al Qaeda," they certainly are, at the very least, sympathetic to al Qaeda.
Did the 'Innocence of Muslims' play a role?
Kirkpatrick also claims in his piece that the amateurish anti-Islam YouTube video, "Innocence of Muslims," made by an Egyptian-born Coptic Christian Mark Basseley Youssef, also known as Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, "fueled" the attack.
"And contrary to claims by some members of Congress, it was fueled in large part by anger at an American-made video denigrating Islam."
On Meet the Press Sunday, Kirkpatrick confirmed to host David Gregory that Benghazi was an armed terrorist attack fueled by the video. His assertion is supported by interviews with the Jihadists in Benghazi, but does not ring true based on piles of evidence to the contrary.
For example, in December of last year, Catherine Herridge of Fox News reported on an "independent review of more than 4,000 postings" that was "conducted by a leading social media monitoring firm." The analysis found that the first reference to the anti-Islam film was not made on social media until the day after the Benghazi attack.
Secondly, as reported at the Examiner, Gregory Hicks, the highest ranking American diplomat in Libya after Ambassador Chris Stevens, said that he was "embarrassed" when former U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice "wrongly blamed the attacks on an anti-Islamic video." He said, "I was stunned. My jaw dropped. And I was embarrassed." Click on the video above to watch the compelling testimony.
Also, the attack occurred on Sept. 11, 2012. This date is significant to Islamic extremists as it marks the anniversary of the 2001 terror attack that took the lives of approximately 3,000 innocent Americans. Was it really a coincidence that the murderous attack occurred on Sept. 11?
Finally, in the months leading up to the attack, The New York Times reported that "Benghazi had experienced a string of assassinations as well as attacks on the Red Cross and a British envoy’s motorcade." In June, "a bomb was planted near the American Mission’s outer wall, blowing out a 12-foot-wide hole."
It is clear that the video had nothing to do with the Sept. 11 attack.
Fitzpatrick notes that his report "centered on extensive interviews with Libyans in Benghazi who had direct knowledge of the attack there and its context..." It is unfathomable that the sources would have any direct knowledge of the attack, unless they took part in the attack. And if they did take part in the attack, how could they possibly be trusted?
*Update: An interesting and thoughtful perspective has been provided by Lee Stranahan on the "Innocence of Muslims."