Thursday, November 22, 2012

US Probe Into Destruction of Benghazi Compound Has Stalled

Libya probe into consulate attack stalls

Associated Press
Updated 10:49 p.m., Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Benghazi, Libya -- After more than two months, Libya's investigation into the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi appears in limbo. Key security commanders and witnesses say they were never questioned. No suspects have been named, and gunmen seen participating in the assault walk freely in the eastern Libyan city.

Hanging over the probe is a fear of reprisals from extremist militiamen. Farag al-Fazani, a young commander of a Libyan security force commissioned to protect the U.S. post at the time of the Sept. 11 attack, says he sees militants he recognizes from that chaotic night.

They recognize him too.

"I get death threats by phone (saying) you are an infidel and spilling your blood is permitted," said al-Fazani.

U.S. and Libyan leaders have sworn to hunt down those who carried out the assault, in which gunmen blasted their way into the consulate compound after nightfall and killed four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador to Libya, J. Christopher Stevens. Most officials and witnesses have blamed fighters from Ansar al-Shariah, an Islamic extremist militia in the city.

But much remains unexplained - including what was the attack's motive, why did Libyan security pull back from the consulate and even what time the attack started, much less the bigger questions of whether outside terror groups like al Qaeda were involved.

The FBI, which sent a team to Tripoli immediately after the attack to work with Libyan investigators, has said nothing about its findings so far. From the Libyan side, there has been little sign of an investigation.

Meanwhile, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice said Wednesday that her early account of the attack was based on the initial intelligence-community assessments and was always subject to review and updates.

She said she respects Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain, who has been critical of her, but says "some of the statements he's made about me have been unfounded, but I look forward to having the opportunity at the appropriate time to discuss all of this with him."

Her comments attributing the attacks to a mob enraged over an anti-Muslim video posted on YouTube were widely denounced by Republicans during the U.S. presidential campaign. The focus has fallen on Rice because she is believed to be President Obama's first choice to replace Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who is not expected to stay on during his second term.

Read more:

No comments: