Libya attackers linked to Al-Qaeda: US - The News International
September 29, 2012 - Updated 856 PKT
From Web Edition
WASHINGTON: The US intelligence community said Friday that a deadly assault on a US consulate in Libya was a planned attack linked to Al-Qaeda, but stressed that "many unanswered questions" remained.
"It remains unclear if any group or person exercised overall command and control of the attack, and if extremist group leaders directed their members to participate," Shawn Turner, spokesman for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, said in a statement.
"We do assess that some of those involved were linked to groups affiliated with, or sympathetic to Al-Qaeda."
President Barack Obama's administration has offered varied explanations as to who may have been behind the September 11 attack on the US diplomatic mission in the eastern city of Benghazi, drawing criticism from Republican opponents weeks before a US presidential election.
Both Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and top US diplomat Hillary Clinton have called the assault a "terrorist attack," with the Pentagon chief also suggesting that it took days for the US government to conclude extremists had launched an orchestrated assault.
"As we 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," Turner explained.
Some Republican lawmakers have alleged that the Obama administration knew almost immediately afterward that Al-Qaeda was involved in the Benghazi attack, which killed the US ambassador to Libya and three other Americans.
But Turner stressed that despite "progress" made in the investigation, "there remain many unanswered questions."
On Thursday, Panetta said it was too soon to say whether Al-Qaeda or Al-Qaeda-linked groups had a role in the incident.
The US military's top officer, General Martin Dempsey, also said there had been no warning of a direct threat to the American mission in Benghazi before the attack.
The State Department initially said the attack arose out of a spontaneous protest against an amateur anti-Islam Internet video made in the United States.
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