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Killing of U.S Diplomat is a Sign of Middle East Jihadists Taking Over Moderate Countries!

Interesting Article: "Struggle for Ideological Upper Hand in Muslim World Seen as Factor in Attacks" by Robert Worth / Doha published Friday, September 12, 2012.

An interesting article mentioned that in the wake of angry anti-American protests and the killing of the American ambassador and three other diplomatic workers in Benghazi, Libya, there was a return to sadly familiar ground. The cause, as in earlier riots that followed the burning of Korans in Afghanistan and the publication of anti-Islamic cartoons in Denmark, was a perceived blasphemy — in this case a video clip that denigrated the Prophet Muhammad. Would you like to know more?

Once again, Muslims were furious, and many in the West found themselves asking why Islam seems to routinely answer such desecrations with violence. But the attacks, analysts say, might have less to do with any intrinsic Muslim intolerance than with the ideological chaos that reigns in the Arab world, where extremists routinely exploit popular anger and invoke Islam to draw attention to fundamentally political and even internecine goals. Those radicals might even include jihadis loyal to Al Qaeda, which has made clear that it hopes to win new followers in Libya and other Arab Spring countries. American officials said Wednesday they suspected the attack that killed the ambassador, J. Christopher Stevens, was planned, though many details still remain uncertain, including the identity of the killers.

Bernard Haykel, a professor of Middle East studies at Princeton University, said, “It’s true that there are sanctions against insulting the Prophet, but this is really about political or symbolic opportunists, who use religious symbols to advance their own power or prestige against other groups.” Libya and Egypt are especially vulnerable to this kind of contest over symbols and power; their new national governments are still insecure about the exercise of authority, and newly empowered ultraconservative religious groups — mostly known as Salafis — are keen to assert their visibility and influence against other factions. Libya, in particular, remains a checkerboard of militias, some of them composed of Salafis, who have proved themselves capable of intimidating the newly elected government.

“Who’s going to control these people?” said Tarik Yousef, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution who is also the son of Libya’s interim president, Mohammed Yousef Magarief. “Some of these Salafi groups claim to operate under the banner of the Interior Ministry.”

For all the harrowing images of the deadly attack on the American mission in Benghazi, the Obama administration is grappling with the possibility that its far bigger long-term problem lies in Egypt, not Libya. Hours before the attacks in Benghazi on Tuesday, the American Embassy in Cairo came under siege from protesters. While the violence there did not result in any American deaths, the tepid response from the Egyptian government to the assault gave officials in Washington — already troubled by the direction of President Mohamed Morsi’s new Islamist government — further cause for concern.

For the United States, “politically the bigger issue is Egypt,” said Martin S. Indyk, a former United States ambassador to Israel. “On the one hand, you didn’t have Americans getting killed, but this was the fourth time an embassy was assaulted in Cairo with the Egyptian police doing precious little,” Mr. Indyk said. “And where was President Morsi’s condemnation of this?” Several foreign policy experts said they worried that President Mohamed Morsi was putting appeasement of his country’s Islamist population ahead of national security. That comes on top of other moves by his government, including restrictions on press freedom and squabbling with Israel over how to crack down on terrorists taking root in the Sinai Peninsula.  

Angry demonstrations over the anti-Islam video already have occurred in Yemen as well, and officials theorize that well-armed Libyan extremists hijacked a similar protest in Benghazi, where several Libyan security guards also were killed. The U.S. put all of its diplomatic missions overseas on high alert, and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton delivered an explicit denunciation of the video as the administration sought to pre-empt further turmoil at its embassies and consulates.

The intelligence leading up to the attacks will be examined to "see if there was any way of forecasting this violence," as in any violent incident, House Intelligence Committee member Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said in an interview Thursday. But he said the focus now "has to be on finding out who is responsible and bringing them to justice."

As of Thursday morning, there was no intelligence indicating that what happened in Benghazi was planned, according to two U.S. officials briefed on the investigation into the attack. Intelligence officials said they believe it's more likely that the attack was "opportunistic or spontaneous," with militants taking advantage of the demonstration to launch the assault. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the ongoing investigation publicly.

There is also no evidence that the attack was tied to 9/11, one of the officials said. But the Libyan-based militant group Ansar al Sharia (see picture of leadership on left) is the leading suspect for carrying out the violence, possibly with help from al-Qaida's main African-based offshoot, Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb. The officials said it may be hard to determine definitively which group was responsible, because many militants are members of both.

It's virtually impossible to predict when a crowd might form and turn violent, according to retired U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte, who served as chief of mission at five posts, including Iraq, and is a former director of national intelligence.

"These things can be mobilized on the spur of the moment, set off by a spark," especially in places such as Egypt and Libya where the ruling strongmen have just fallen, Negroponte said Thursday.

"When you get rid of authoritarian regimes, there's little or no institutional framework left. ...That's why there's disorder and chaos" that is so easily hijacked, he said.

Yet, according to some sources, the Libyan attack seems to have been an organized effort. At least an hour before the assault began, a stream of cars was seen moving toward the U.S. Consulate in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi. By late Tuesday evening, as many as 50 heavily armed militants had gathered outside its high walls. They joined protesters outside the consulate who were demonstrating against an American movie that they believed denigrated the prophet Muhammad. But according to one witness, the new arrivals neither chanted slogans nor carried banners. The gunmen soon opened fire, entered the compound and set the consulate’s buildings aflame. Hours later, the compound was overrun and four Americans were dead. Among them were Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, 52, and Sean Smith, a State Department employee. Even as evidence was being assembled, the early indications were that the assault had been planned and the attackers had cannily taken advantage of the protest at the consulate. Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), chairman of the intelligence committee, said the assault appeared to be well planned and well organized, with attackers executing military-like maneuvers.

Wanis al-Sharif, the deputy Libyan interior minister said the Libyan government suspected the gunmen were loyal to former leader Moammar Gaddafi, who was overthrown with American help last year and was later killed. Other fingers pointed to possible al-Qaeda affiliates. The suspicion of al-Qaeda involvement was supported by the Sept. 11 timing as well as the release of a recording this week by al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri urging Libyans to avenge the death by CIA drone strike of his deputy, Abu Yahya al-Libi. There had been signs of a threat earlier. On June 5, a bomb exploded outside the gates of the consulate in the first attack on an American facility since the fall of Gaddafi. No one was injured.

A jihadist group calling itself “Brigades of Imprisoned Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman” claimed responsibility, according to the Site monitoring service. The group posted a message on jihadist forums saying the attack was a response to the drone strike that killed Libi in Pakistan on June 4. The group is named after the blind Egyptian sheik who is serving a life sentence for his role in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.

In Yemen, one Protester was shot dead by security forces today after hundreds forced their way into the compound of the US embassy in Sana’a as anger over the YouTube film. Following similar protests in Egypt and Libya this week, a crowd had gathered around the embassy this morning, chanting “death to America”. A US flag was burned. The protest initially took the form of a peaceful sit-in involving independent youth groups, but a call to demonstrate was also issued by Sheikh Abd al-Majid al-Zindani, a religious leader accused by the US of supporting terrorism. Named on the US Treasury Department’s “specially designated global terrorist” list, Zindani is a prominent member of Yemen’s islamist Islah party.

Over the past decade, US-Yemeni relations have been defined by cooperation over counter-terrorism. AQAP’s involvement in a number of bomb plots against American targets prompted an increase in counter-terrorism funding from the United States as it encouraged the former Yemeni president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, to bring militant-held areas of the country under control.

Accusations of AQAP involvement in the Sana’a protest echo a wider narrative that has emerged to explain violent protests in Libya that led to the death of US ambassador Christopher Stevens in a rocket attack on the US consulate in Benghazi on Tuesday.

US officials have suggested that eyewitness accounts of the level of firepower deployed in the attack “indicate something more than a spontaneous protest”. The issue was raised by Adam B. Schiff, a member of the House intelligence committee, as he questioned whether the tragic events were a result of al-Qaeda affiliates “capitalizing on the opportunity posed by [a protest]”.

"It is important to note that as these protests are taking place in different countries around the world, responding to the movie, that Friday, tomorrow, has historically been a day when there are protests in the Muslim world," White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters in Colorado. "And we are watching very closely for developments that could lead to more protests. We anticipate that they may continue."

The Quilliam Foundation, a London-based counterterrorism think tank, yesterday reminded observers that the attack on the consulate came 24 hours after al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri released a video marking the anniversary of 9/11 and urging Libyans to avenge the killing of his second-in-command Abu Yahya al-Libi.

Around the world, U.S. missions issued warnings to Americans about demonstrations that could turn violent. More than 50 embassies and consulates have released such alerts since Wednesday, the State Department said.

References:
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/14/world/middleeast/egypt-not-libya-may-be-bigger-challenge-for-white-house.html?_r=2ref=middleeast&
http://news.yahoo.com/us-braces-more-violence-anti-muslim-film-210325903.html
http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/chaos-at-the-consulate-as-militants-attack/2012/09/12/f92ad9d2-fcfe-11e1-8adc-499661afe377_story.html
http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2012/09/13/consulate-attack-planned-as-2-part-militant-assault-libyan-official-says/
http://www.theweek.co.uk/middle-east/islam-film-row/49005/after-yemeni-death-al-qaeda-involved-prophet-protests#ixzz26S9h4Any

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