Benghazi and Al Qaeda

November 27, 2013

Yesterday, Rep. Mike Rogers (R.-Mich.) made some noteworthy claims to Fox News about the role al-Qaeda’s Pakistan-based core leadership played in the notorious September 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi:

“I can tell you we know the participants of the event were clearly al-Qaeda affiliates, had strong interest and desire to communicate with al-Qaeda core and others, in the process—we believe before and after the event,” Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., who has access to classified information and receives regular briefings, told Fox News in an exclusive interview…

“I will tell you this, by witness testimony and a year and a half of interviewing everyone that was on the ground by the way, either by an FBI investigator or the committee: It was very clear to the individuals on the ground that this was an al-Qaeda-led event. And they had pretty fairly descriptive events early on that led those folks on the ground, doing the fighting, to the conclusion that this was a pre-planned, organized terrorist event,” Rogers said.

It is worth comparing Rogers’s claims to President Obama’s description of Benghazi in the speech he gave at National Defense University in May:

Today, the core of al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan is on the path to defeat. Their remaining operatives spend more time thinking about their own safety than plotting against us. They did not direct the attacks in Benghazi or Boston. They’ve not carried out a successful attack on our homeland since 9/11…

[W]hile we are vigilant for signs that these groups may pose a transnational threat, most are focused on operating in the countries and regions where they are based. And that means we’ll face more localized threats like what we saw in Benghazi, or the BP oil facility in Algeria, in which local operatives—perhaps in loose affiliation with regional networks—launch periodic attacks against Western diplomats, companies, and other soft targets, or resort to kidnapping and other criminal enterprises to fund their operations.


Daveed Gartenstein-Ross is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and an adjunct assistant professor in Georgetown University’s security studies program. He is the author or volume editor of twelve books and monographs, including Bin Laden’s Legacy (Wiley, 2011). Follow him on Twitter: @DaveedGR.


Image: FBI