The Benghazi Attack
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The Benghazi Attack relates to an attack on the U.S. diplomat mission in Benghazi, Libya on September 11, 2012. The assault was undertaken by heavily armed Islamism militants when they set buildings on fire. The attackers overwhelmed the Libyan and U.S. security personnel guarding the compound. Highly organized attackers later launched a rocket fire and a motor machine against the U.S. diplomat at the CIA compound killing high profile officials. Among those killed were the U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens together with three other officials. The attack also injured ten other U.S. citizens. Reinforcement was sent from Tripoli, Libyan capital, and they were able to evacuate thirty Americans from the building (Stone & U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, 2014). However, questions arise over the role of intelligence in providing early warning. In addition, coordination of law enforcement entities and ensuing investigations are also questioned. In this paper, effectiveness of these agencies is analyzed.
Reports indicate that there was intelligence information released prior to the date of the attack. The Intelligence Community had provided adequate strategic warnings indicating that the security in Eastern Libya was getting worse. These reports warned that terrorists and militias were at a high risk of invading. The information suggested that the U..S personnel and facilities in Benghazi were at risk, hence stipulating a need to protect them.
The Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) published a report in June, 2012 entitled “Libya: Terrorists Now Targeting U.S. Mission Compound in Benghazi.” It founded its report on the increased cooperation between Libya-based terrorists and al-Qaida regional bodies. The intelligence also provided specific weapons likely to be used, which included improvised explosive devices and ambush. The DIA discussed Ansar al-Sharia (AAS), which indicated that Libya was a central point where those activities were taking place.
Moreover, the Central Intelligence Authority produced intelligence information in July, 2012. he intelligence warned that Al-Qaida-affiliated and -associated groups were looking for permissive intelligence grounds in Libya, which would extend their operational reach and capabilities. The intelligence was so specific that it touched on individual networks such as the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) based in Egypt and the other in Maghreb. It claimed that these networks were building communication networks, conducting training, and financing extremist travels from Libya.
There was also another intelligence report released by the Pentagon Joint Staff in August 19, 2012. The report was entitled “Libya: Terrorists to Increase Strength during the Next Six months” provided an insight on what was likely to happen in the next few months. It indicated that Libya was the safest haven for terrorists. It warned that the situation in Libya would enable terrorists to increase their assault against Libyan and Western interests in that region. It predicted that the assault might expand to Europe in a period of another six months.
The AFRICOM produced the last report prior to the attack. The report showed that terrorists were taking advantage of the vulnerable situation in Libya to advance their interests. Moreover, it indicated that there was disarray among security forces in Libya. It also pointed out that the authorities had shifted their attention to the pursuit of Gadhafi Loyalists. The vulnerable situation would allow the Jihadists to extend their recruitment and training, as well as intensifying the movement of weapons and fighters. It, therefore, warned that European and U.S. interests and missions remain vulnerable to attacks. These reports comprise phases of the intelligence cycle that the law enforcement officers should have worked upon (U.S. Department of State, 2012).
However, coordination among various law enforcement agencies failed. Thus, the State Department failed to increase security in Benghazi despite adequate intelligence information that the security situation was deteriorating. Ambassador Stevens and DCM Greg Hicks received these reports and should have acted by increasing seecurity personal.
The State Department also ignored crucial information. There were adequate signs that a major attack was likely to happen in Benghazi. This is because there were at least 20 security incidents that involved attack on international organizations, temporary mission facilities, diplomats, third country nationals, as well as non-governmental organizations.
The principal officer in charge of defense neglected concerns raised by Ambassador Stevens in relation to a deteriorating security situation in Benghazi. He said that the situation was beyond control since the local police and the Supreme Security Council were incapable of controlling the condition (Stone & U. S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, 2014).
There were also signs that various security machineries in Benghazi could not agree on the best way of coordinating security in the area. This was revealed during an Emergency Action meeting. The Central Intelligence Agency’s officer and the principal Officer were also unable to coordinate their actions. Though the CIA had provided enough information relating to the location of the AQ camps and Islamists militias, no measure was taken to contain the situation. The Regional Security Officer could not add security personnel on the post as there were limited security personnel in the country.
There was confusion over persons entitled to make major decisions relating to security and policy concerns. There were various agencies such as the U.S. Embassy, Bureau of Diplomatic security, Bureau of Near-Eastern Affairs, and the State Department. Lack of coordination could also have resulted from uncertain future of that temporary mission facility. The mission facility was supposed to expire in December, 2012, causing the lack of continuity for the security staff. It may also have resulted in problems among decision makers in relation to allocating enhancements to the facility. The attack occurred when the mission was under-resourced and understaffed. Hence, it was very vulnerable (Committee on Armed Services United States Senate, 2014).
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