Yesterday, it was announced the Obama administration had moved on Sunday to arrest a Benghazi al-Qaeda leader Ahmed Abu Khattala. Many people, including Fox’s James Rosen pointed particular questions to the State Dept. about “why now”?
As unbelievable as this might sound, the most likely answer has little to do with what’s currently being pondered as a motive for this administration, “squirrel”. The reality is within the Bergdahl deal, and the GITMO-5 to Qatar, there is a far more likely reason.
Against the backdrop of recent discoveries about Qatar giving some of the aforementioned arms, specifically stinger missiles, to the Taliban in Afghanistan – Khattala became a risk of exposure to the White House.
They needed to throw a bag over him.
Bear with me through the complexity and I’ll outline the events with all citations included for reference.
On March 30th 2011 Reuters News Agency reported that President Obama had already signed a secret order authorizing the CIA to provide covert support to the Libyan opposition, an operation that would become known as “Zero Footprint”.
2011- U.S. officials also have said that Saudi Arabia and Qatar, whose leaders despise Gaddafi, have indicated a willingness to supply Libyan rebels with weapons. (link)
Ultimately a joint decision between the State Department (Hillary Clinton) and CIA (Leon Panetta) [*Note General David Petraeus did not take the position until Sept 2011] was reached to use friendly nations as cover for direct shipment of U.S. arms into Libya as part of Operation Zero Footprint.
According to federal law, in the event a covert operation is deemed necessary, it is the president’s responsibility to alert the leadership in the House and Senate, as well as the chairman and ranking members of the Intelligence Committees in both chambers.
In the intelligence community, this group is referred to as “the Gang of 8″ [ John Boehner, Nancy Pelosi, Mike Rogers, Ruppersberger, Mitch McConnell, Harry Reid, Diane Feinstein, Saxby Chambliss].
The Gang of 8, which included leaders from both parties should have known about Operation Zero Footprint. Now think about all the political people who have either thrown roadblocks up, or dragged their heels, in the two years since the Benghazi attack…. now go back and look at that list again. Got it? OK, good… read on.
Ironically – who probably didn’t know about Zero Footprint? John McCain – Seen here, in Benghazi, with Chris Stevens around the time it was all being executed.
It is important to remember this covert operation was after General Carter Ham (Africom) was removed in his authority over the Libyan conflict and NATO took over.
Nothing moved in and out of Libya but for the approval of NATO; so Admiral Stavridis, NATO command, had to authorize any of the armed shipments that came in there.
By the time of this White House/NATO decision Chris Stevens was embedded in Benghazi, helping to coordinate those arms shipments.
In the process constructed NATO (via Stavridis), following the instructions of the U.S. State department and CIA, used the United Arab Emirates (UAE) as the financier of the weapons.
Qatar was used as the front or go-between to handle the logistics and shipping of the weapons in and out of Libya.
Ahmed Abu Khattala in his position as the insurgent commander within the Libyan Islamic Fighting group, and as leader of Ansar al-Sharia (which is the Muslim Brotherhood link in Libya), was the recipient of all those arms flowing into Libya.
Khattala was the commander within the actual fighting force on the ground. Khattala was the leader of what Hillary called “the rebels”.
[Ahmed Abu Khattalah, also known as Ahmad Bukhattalah – references Section 1(b) of Executive Order 13224, as Amended 23.22 in]
It was only a year after the attacks on the State Dept./CIA compound – on December 31, 2013- when the State Department designated Ahmed Abu Khattalah as a global terrorist.
Khattalah was the senior leader of the group Ansar al-Sharia, known for its extreme hostility toward the West. Khattalah had spent most of his adult life imprisoned by the Qaddafi regime for his Islamist views, fueling his hatred for the dictator.
Because of the unique construction of the entire Libyan operation the Department of Defense and the FBI had virtually no knowledge of Operation Zero Footprint, which is completely consistent with the US Senate Select Committee’s finding after the Benghazi attack.
In addition -as has previously been reported- AFRICOM Commander General Carter Ham was not aware a CIA Annex even existed in Benghazi, at the time of the attacks.
As the Senate Select Committee pointed out:
We are puzzled as to how the military leadership [vis-a-vis Ham] expected to effectively respond and rescue Americans in the event of an emergency when it did not even know of the existence of one of the U.S. facilities.
Details of the covert weapons operation Zero Footprint were tightly guarded among select members of Congress (the Gang of Eight), the CIA (Panetta), the State Department (Clinton) and the White House (Donilon), who were all trying to manage a covert operation that would expose a U.S. policy decision to arm al-Qaeda, the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist militias. A decision that would ultimately lead to the death of Ambassador Chris Stevens, Sean Smith, Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty.
A few weeks ago, when the political team of McDonough, Blinkin, Rhodes et al, made the political decision to use Bowe Bergdahl as an example of President Obama’s military bona-fides, and try to cover the growing VA scandal, they didn’t think through the possibility of a linkage with Qatar so heavily referenced in the media again as part of the deal to release the GITMO-5.
Indeed, Qatar might have slipped by unnoticed were it not for the backlash against the release of the terrorists and the political hot-potato the entire decision became.
The White House team could never have anticipated the re-surfacing of Qatar and the connections that came up to Qatar’s previous less-than-honorable follow-through with the Libyan missiles; some of which ended up in the hands of the Taliban and were used against U.S. forces in Afghanistan.
However, once folks –including media– began sniffing around the Qatar connections, the problem of Ahmed Khattala re-surfaced as a risk that needed to be under control. The risk compounded with the reality that ISIS, the Syrian al-Qaeda insurgency, was in the news all over Northern Iraq holding the same -albeit a different batch- stinger missiles previously id’d to the Taliban.
So last Sunday they threw a bag over him.
Now, with all of that absorbed, take a break – grab a beverage – and sit down to watch this video you’ll see how it all comes together:
Pay close attention at the 23:00 minute mark.