CIA missed clues to al-Qaeda’s link in Libya’s US consulate attack

      White House has claimed that the assault on the US consulate in the Libyan city of Benghazi was staged by protestors reacting to the anti-Islam film, but new evidence suggests terrorism was involved. The consulate assault, which occurred on the 11th anniversary of the September 11 attacks, led to the deaths of four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens.

According to the Daily Mail, confusion over what sparked the Benghazi violence may have stemmed from the CIA, which distributed ‘talking points’ to top officials on September 14. The unclassified documents, obtained by the Daily Beast, said in part: “The currently available information suggests that the demonstrations in Benghazi were spontaneously inspired by the protests at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo and evolved into a direct assault against the U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi and subsequently its annex”. “There are indications that extremists participated in the violent demonstrations,” the documents suggested.

However, the document went on to say that the 'assessment may change as additional information is collected' and that the investigation is 'on-going.' Additionally, The Daily Beast reported that an intercepted phone call between a local militia group and al-Qaeda’s North Africa arm, al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), indicated that the two factions worked and planned the attack together. On Saturday, the Obama administration admitted that it knew within 24 hours that the strike was a pre-planned terrorist attack and not by crazed protestors enraged by an anti-Islam film.

Senior U.S. officials have now confessed the government privately labelled the attack a terrorist act almost immediately after it happened, and even knew that the perpetrators had links to al-Qaeda. According to the report, Shawn Turner, a spokesman for Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, said that as U.S. intelligence subsequently learned more about the attack, 'we revised our initial assessment to reflect new information indicating that it was a deliberate and organized terrorist attack carried out by extremists.'

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