Benghazi’s Deep Throat fingers Islamist Leaders for Attacks as State Dept Criticized on Consular Security

The report saying that security was inadequate at the compound that the US had adopted as its ad hoc consulate in Benghazi, Libya, dominates today’s headlines. That conclusion is obvious. The “consulate” was just a private residence taken over for this purpose by the US in the city. It was not constructed to be a US government building in a potentially hostile city.

I met a person who worked there when I was in Benghazi in June, and she told me that it wasn’t even clear if the consulate would be retained after the first of this year. It was possibly temporary, depending on Congressional funding. (The Tea Party House hasn’t been good on meeting requests for embassy security funds).

The more interesting question than why ad hoc arrangements should have been made for a consulate during and after the Libyan revolution (the answer to which seems fairly obvious) is, who is responsible for the string of assassinations and acts of violence in the city, of which the RPG attack on the consulate on September 11 was only one? Benghazi, with a population of over one million in a country of 6.5 million, is Libya’s second largest city and was the epicenter of the revolution against the government of Muammar Qaddafi in 2011.

On November 22, Benghazi police chief Farej Darssi was assassinated. In October a police colonel barely avoided death– his car was wired to explode. A Libyan intelligence officer was killed in September. A general was assassinated in August. Some of these figures had worked for Qaddafi but had defected to the revolution. Qaddafi’s security forces were responsible for the 1996 massacre of hardline fundamentalists at Abu Salim prison, and for making others just disappear. Likely the same shadowy cells that attacked the US consulate are behind the attacks on Benghazi police and army officers.

There may have been a break in the case. Last Saturday, Benghazi security forces loyal to the elected government in Tripoli, captured a man they suspected of being involved with the groups behind the violence. And, he appears to have been willing to spill the beans. So let’s call him the Libyan Deep Throat.

Deep Throat is so knowledgeable about the conspiracies facing the city and so dangerous to those hatching them that the latter immediately attempted to spring him from jail.

On Sunday morning, militants attacked the police facility next to the holding cell where the man is being detained. A policeman at that station died in a hail of bullets from the attackers, and they called for back-up. The police car that sped to the scene was ambushed and three policemen in it were killed.

Still, the police stood their ground and fought off the assault, and they kept their valuable suspect in custody, with all his valuable testimony.

Shortly after midnight, on Monday morning, small explosives were set off at the Garyounis police station in Benghazi, damaging a couple of automobiles but otherwise doing little damage. Then explosives were set off at al-Uruba police station, which also took sniper fire, but neither resulted in casualties.

The police became vigilant, and they apprehended a shady-looking man skulking around near the al-Hadaeq police station, finding him to have two rocket propelled grenades in his possession, which he was apparently intending to fire at the station.

In other words, the capture of Libyan Deep Throat has set off a gang war on the police, who are being informed by bombings and shootings that they must let their informant go or risk their safety.

So what is Deep Throat saying? According to local journalist Mohamed Bujenah of the Libyan Herald, a senior figure in the Benghazi police told him that the informant had fingered as many as 7 prominent Muslim fundamentalist leaders in connection with these attacks, of whom the police named 6 explicitly:

1 Sufyan Ben Qumu, from the notoriously radical town of Derna, and a former prisoner at Guantanamo

2. Ahmad Bukatela, leader of the Ubaida Militia

3. Muhammad al-Zahawi, head of the Ansar al-Sharia militia

4. Muhammad al-Gharabi, a leader of the Rafallah al-Sahati Militia

5. Ismail Sallabi, another leader of Rafallah al-Sahati

6. Salim Nabous, head of the Zawiya Martyrs’ Brigade

It is just a newspaper article. We don’t know if the informant actually named these individuals or if he did so to escape torture, in which case we can’t trust what he said. But if the allegations are true, there is collusion among several hardline militias in the city to create instability in hopes of taking it over.

The new, elected, prime minister Ali Zeidan, has started asserting himself militarily. He closed the country’s southern borders against instability in the Sahel. He may well have some risky house cleaning to do in Benghazi.

8 Responses

  1. ” Sufyan Ben Qumu, from the notoriously radical town of Derna, and a former prisoner at Guantanamo”

    For more than five years, Abu Sufian Ibrahim Ahmed Hamuda bin Qumu was a prisoner at the Guantánamo Bay prison, judged “a probable member of Al Qaeda” by the analysts there. They concluded in a newly disclosed 2005 assessment that his release would represent a “medium to high risk, as he is likely to pose a threat to the U.S., its interests and allies.”

    Nevertheless, Hamouda bin Qumu was returned to Libya in 2007, where Chris Stevens helped him get settled in. Stevens was DCM (Deputy Chief of Mission) from 2007 to 2009. There are two wikileaks wires mentioning Stevens’ help for bin Qumu.

    In March 2011 Christopher Stevens attended a meeting in Paris between Clinton, Sarkozy and Jabril, set up by Bernard-Henri Lévy. Stevens was among those who urged Clinton to describe to President Obama the call for help that he had just heard. From March 2011 to November 2011 Stevens was Special Representative to the National Transitional Council in Benghazi.

    During this time, Abu Sufian Ibrahim Ahmed Hamuda bin Qumu was a notable figure in the Libyan rebels’ fight to oust Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi. bin Qumu was a leader of a ragtag band of fighters known as the Darnah Brigade — a remarkable turnabout resulting from shifting American policies.

  2. Two wikileaks wires showing involvement of Sufyan Ben Qumu and Chris Stevens, DCM in Tripoli

    wikileaks: O 131650Z DEC 07

    “. . .acknowledged to DCM and P/E Chief the GOL’s commitment to provide Embassy access to returned Guantanamo Bay detainees.. . . Dr. Sawani characterized access to the returned detainees as “a straightforward matter” and said he was “sure” visits with al-Rimi and Hamouda could be quickly arranged. .” .”

    wikileaks: O 030917Z JAN 08

    “…Ben Qumu Abu Sufian Ibrahim Ahmed Hamouda. . .claimed to have not had a family visit. . . A/DCM spoke with . . .counterpart Muhammad Tarnish January 2 . .[Hamouda’s] physical condition and spirits as “very good”

  3. I presume that Mr. bin Qumu was not Cleared for Release by the team that reviewed Gitmo Detainees, not if we thought he was a member of al-Qaeda.
    I presume he was transferred to Libya because we were pretty sure Ghadaffi would keep close tabs on him (as in, under arrest.) Why else would there be a question of a family visit ?

    This prologue is to distinguish him from the 86 or so prisoners at Guantanamo Bay Detention Center who HAVE been Cleared for Release. The reviewing committees under both Bush and Obama have found that more than half of the men still incarcerated there today are functionally innocent. At worst, they may have been low level foot soldiers who never fought US forces.

    The various well-intended campaigns to free these men have all fizzled out. I admire and respect the work of Remes, Stafford-Smith, Worthington and other giants, but the results are paltry. It’s almost as if Gitmo Czar Fried was doing more to get them out, and we know that ain’t so.

    I call on these advocates to continue their efforts to get the US legal system to uphold the rule of law.
    But in the meantime, I call on them to get behind the Dat-dazh-deet Deradicalization Program, the only realistic hope of these political prisoners ever seeing their homes again before they die.

  4. The problem is still, as always, that President Obama had no right at all to wage war in Libya without Congressional approval. We need to stop waging perpetual wars against countries that are no threat to us in and around the Middle East.

  5. Any human being who was unlucky enough to be detained at Gitmo would be a risk, as they weren’t inclined to forgive and forget their false imprisonment and the determination that they were a “probable AQ member.”

    Then bin Qumu was used by Stevens, who may have had a torture history when he was DCM. We don’t know what happened between Stevens and bin Qumu after that. Stevens wasn’t a total choir-boy, I imagine.

    Many or most of the Gitmo prisoners, who were treated worse than animals, were arbitrarily selected with no evidence. Some were simply a victim of tribal bounties. The US wanted bodies, that’s all. They were “functionally innocent” w/o the “functionally.”

  6. Mr. Bacon,

    after 10 years of torture and other inhumane treatment,
    even a completely innocent Detainee would want to strike back at the USA.

    In one sense, such an innocent man should be released immediately, and compensated for his losses. I call that “justice.”

    But now that we have turned him into a threat, we must deradicalize him before releasing him. I call that being practical.

    These 86 men, mostly from Yemen, are political prisoners, in that they continue to be held because members of the US Congress do not want to have to answer to voters if one is released and then strikes at Americans.

    Shades of innocence are not a factor. What matters is what Obama can do within the restrictions set by Congress.
    The Dat-dazh-deet Deradicalization Program provides a measure of justice, while being careful not to trigger a Congressional veto. On completion, these men get to go home. Until then, they are handled according to Army Regulation 190-8.

  7. This report stinks to high heaven.

    When was the last time you heard of a single terrorist attack carried out by the heads of five different groups? As opposed to different groups carrying out attacks on their own.

    Say, the groups named by the informant wouldn’t happen to be the same ones the police are already at war with, would they?

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