Benghazi ARB Chair: Egypt involved in Benghazi Attacks

At last week’s House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on Benghazi, the Accountability Review Board’s Chairman, Thomas Pickering, may have divulged classified information when he confirmed Egyptian involvement in the Benghazi attack on 9/11/12. When asked by Rep. Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) if there was an Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood connection to the attack, Pickering responded with the following.

Pickering: Did he release Classified information at House Oversight Committee hearing?

Pickering: Did he release Classified information at House Oversight Committee hearing?

“Our report indicates that one Egyptian organization which is named in the report, umm, was possibly involved and uh, you know, I’m not sure… I think that that’s in the unclassified (report). I hope it is.”

Here is the video of that exchange:

Upon reading the 39-page unclassified report, it is easily determined that there is not one mention of any Egyptian organization named in the report. However, there is a mention of the “Omar Abdurrahman group” as being implicated in the June 6, 2012 IED attack on the Benghazi compound. What the report doesn’t say is that the real name of this group is the Brigades of the Imprisoned Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman; that would be the “Blind Sheikh”, imprisoned for his role in the first World Trade Center attack in 1993.

As we reported last month, this Brigade includes two Egyptians, one named Tarek Taha Abu Al-Azm, who was trained by the U.S. Air Force:

The Egyptian fighter pilot who received training from the USAF most certainly did not renounce terrorism after his 2011 release. On June 6, 2012, the U.S. Special Mission Compound (SMC) in Benghazi that would be hit later on September 11th of that year suffered an explosion at the hands of the Brigades of the Imprisoned Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman. This explosion blew a large hole in the perimeter wall of the compound and Egyptian security forces believe that Al-Azm alongside Al-Azizy led this operation. {emphasis ours}

While the Brigades of the Imprisoned Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman may include Egyptian leadership, Pickering did not concede that this group was behind the September 11th attack; that would be a bombshell. So, who was he talking about?

Having no access to the classified report, it’s difficult to know but the group we suspect Pickering may have inadvertently referred to was the Jamal network, named after Muhammad Jamal Abdo Al-Kashif, who also happens to be a close colleague of… you guessed it… Al-Azm.

A truly puzzling thing to consider is why the naming of an Egyptian terror group’s alleged involvement in the Benghazi attacks needs to be classified at all. If it is the Jamal network, the answer to that question may be rather simple to ascertain. Al-Azm was trained by the U.S. Air Force and Al-Kashif was released by Egypt’s Mohammed Mursi after the Benghazi attacks.

At a July 10, 2013 House Foreign Affairs Joint Subcommittee hearing, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher questioned three expert witnesses about the potential for an Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood connection to the attack. Daveed Gartenstein-Ross responded that while Egyptians may have been apprehended, it shouldn’t be inferred that that they belong to the Muslim Brotehrhood. Gartenstein-Ross then stated:

“We know for a fact that there is a large stream of Egyptian extremists who’ve gone into Libya… One set of camps is known as the Jamal network and the individual who runs them is himself Egyptian.”

The above quote can be seen beginning at the 3:35 mark:


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