NYT blockbuster: Anti-Islam video had role in Benghazi attack, Al Qaeda didn’t

A blockbuster new story in the New York Times by David Kirkpatrick looks at the fatal attack on the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya in 2012 and finds no evidence to back up the GOP talking points.

Specifically, Kirkpatrick found no evidence that Al Qaeda played any role in the attack, but he did find evidence that that anti-Muslim video, “Innocence of Muslims,” played a role.

Republicans have been claiming from day one that it was Al Qaeda Al Qaeda Al Qaeda.

And their more general point was that it was a ABSOTIVELY POSALUTELY A TERRORIST ATTACK.  And in fact, there’s still no evidence that it was.

They’ve also been claiming that the anti-Islam video played no role. It would seem the Republicans, yet again, got it wrong on that account too.

Before we get to the Times, let’s take a quick look at that video that the Republicans have been so intent on defending. Here’s how Vanity Fair described “Innocence of Muslims”:

Actual scene from "Innocence of Muslims."

Actual scene from “Innocence of Muslims.”

Exceptionally amateurish, with disjointed dialogue, jumpy editing, and performances that would have looked melodramatic even in a silent movie, the clip is clearly designed to offend Muslims, portraying Mohammed as a bloodthirsty murderer and Lothario and pedophile with omnidirectional sexual appetites. “Is the messenger of God gay?” one character asks rhetorically. “Is the master dominant or submissive?”

“Amateurish” is too kind. You have to see this thing.  It looks like Team America, but without the cartoons. Here’s a trailer:

Now imagine had someone done a move about Jesus being a pedophile, and asking if Jesus were a top or a bottom, then let’s see how many Republicans rush to defend the film.

Here are a few snippets from the Times story:

benghazi-utahMonths of investigation by The New York Times, centered on extensive interviews with Libyans in Benghazi who had direct knowledge of the attack there and its context, turned up no evidence that Al Qaeda or other international terrorist groups had any role in the assault. The attack was led, instead, by fighters who had benefited directly from NATO’s extensive air power and logistics support during the uprising against Colonel Qaddafi. And contrary to claims by some members of Congress, it was fueled in large part by anger at an American-made video denigrating Islam…

Benghazi was not infiltrated by Al Qaeda….

The violence, though, also had spontaneous elements. Anger at the video motivated the initial attack. Dozens of people joined in, some of them provoked by the video and others responding to fast-spreading false rumors that guards inside the American compound had shot Libyan protesters. Looters and arsonists, without any sign of a plan, were the ones who ravaged the compound after the initial attack, according to more than a dozen Libyan witnesses as well as many American officials who have viewed the footage from security cameras….

There is no doubt that anger over the video motivated many attackers. A Libyan journalist working for The New York Times was blocked from entering by the sentries outside, and he learned of the film from the fighters who stopped him. Other Libyan witnesses, too, said they received lectures from the attackers about the evil of the film and the virtue of defending the prophet.


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Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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