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 | Google+. John Aravosis is the editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown (1989); and worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, and as a stringer for the Economist. Frequent TV pundit: O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline & Reliable Sources. Bio, .

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  • Janfrans Zuidema

    Thanks for your reply.

    “To me, all religions are invalid. Islam and Christianity are no exceptions.”

    You could have stopped at that point. As someone who believes in his own subjective religion, it’s obvious that Agnosticism has to be the way of the 21st century (or there won’t be a 23rd century).

    A wise man ones said that only at the last moments of his life he would be able to say if he had been a homo-, bi- or heterosexual. I surely do like people who have the guts to have an open mind on life and lust.

    I hope that the expression of your opinion has made things clearer for you.

    Enjoy!

  • http://www.newmillgay.com/ The_Fixer

    Well, Muhammad could have claimed anything he wanted to claim, that doesn’t mean that people who do not choose to believe in Islam – or parts of it – regard it as being universal. All religions claim that they are universal – the only one, true religion. But, saying so does not make it so.

    You make it sound like I am defending Islam – I’m not. I only can defend people’s right to believe whatever they want to, I just don’t want to see people make public policy based on any religion. I think as a matter of logic and science, none of them have proven that there is any substance to their version and vision of the world, how it came to be, and what is possible in this life. To me, all religions are invalid. Islam and Christianity are no exceptions.

    Now as to the question of whether non-heterosexuals can be accepted in Islam is concerned, there are three considerations when answering that question. For the fundamentalist version of Islam, no, they can’t be accepted. For more “liberal” thinking sects of Islam, perhaps. I am casually acquainted with a guy in Pakistan who is gay and Muslim. He says that there is little-to-no acceptance of him as a gay man. There is individual acceptance on a person-by-person basis. And he is not alone, there are other gay Muslims. Just not that many who are willing to be recognized as such. It’s all on the “down low.”

    This brings up the question of “what is the true version of Islam?” It’s like asking the question “What is the true version of Christianity?” If you believe the fundamentalist sects and their interpretations of Muhammad’s prophecies, theirs is the true version and there is no place for any one other than straight people. If you believe in a more liberal interpretation, then yes, there is a place for non-heterosexuals in Islam.

    There are varying positions in between the polar opposites as well. Like some Christian sects (notably the Catholics), some in the “center” recognize that there are alternate sexual orientations, but consider the behavior sinful. As long as one does not practice anything that is not within the realm of heterosexuality, you’re not sinning. You can be attracted to members of the same (or perhaps both) sexes, but you better not show that attraction in a physical-sexual manner.

    I really think it’s perfectly awful and ridiculous for any religion to reject anyone based on that person’s sexual orientation. It matters not to me whether they follow Islam, Christianity or whatever. Non-heterosexual orientation is part of nature, just as surely as heterosexual orientation is a part of nature. It makes me walk away thinking that they are all fools for doing so.

    I hope this wordy response answers your question.

  • llewellynh

    I finally watched it on Youtube last night and noticed only a few more than 5000 people had watched it before me. Surely in it’s massive collection of data the NSA could list every single person who has seen the just plain awful and dumb film. For starters on or before that September 11th, just what countries were viewing this piece really of garbage?

  • Janfrans Zuidema

    “I understand that having one’s prophet being called gay would anger a religious fundamentalist.”

    I understand that Muhammad claimed that the message of Islam is universal. In that case it should apply to everyone. My question is: Does the message of Islam apply to non-heterosexuals? If it doesn´t, then the non-heterosexuals have a right to know… Be honest. Will non-heterosexuals ever be accepted in Islam?

  • Roberto Bigelow

    The point of Benghazi was President Obama was trying to blame Muslim violence on American people. He blamed the American people for the reaction in Libya and Egypt. He went to the U.N. pimping for anti- blasphamy laws. What a treasonous act. Going to foreign leaders to try and take away our liberties.

  • Roberto Bigelow

    i dont know, but we need to make many more.

  • alwaysthink

    Who paid for the making and distribution of the video? We know it was made in Southern California. But who funded this.

  • therling

    Wha? At 4:35, her pubic hair gets stuck all over his face, making it look like he’s got a beard. I’ve got to stop watching this or I’ll start to riot.

  • therling

    At about 3:00 they’re supposed to be standing in front of a tent in the desert, yet there’s an echo. Then in the next scene they appear to be walking about a foot off the ground. Geez, I’ve seen student films better than this.

  • http://www.americablog.com/ Naja pallida

    Who knows, see my post below about the guy that did produce it – he seems like kind of a general nut. Coptic Christians are a minority in Egypt, and are often persecuted by fundamentalist Muslims. Despite a strong attempt by most people in both communities to protect each other. My guess is that he holds some kind of a grudge based on that… but really, only he can say. Some people are just trolls, and riling people up is the only thing that gives them any kind of joy in life.

  • Just_AC

    umm, no Naja, what I was talking about was who bankrolled the movie! What agenda did they have?

  • Janfrans Zuidema

    They are the chosen people of Allah. I am just a simple Animist. If anything I want them to get lost, so that I and my people can get a life.

  • Janfrans Zuidema

    I’ve already searched the words “proximate” and “ultimate” when I counted the blessings of Islam, kid. I suggest you do the same…

  • pappyvet

    Great revelation. But to the wingnuts , it worked.

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    And said:’Take me to your leader”–backwards

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    Yep. Costumes by Dollar Store.

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    But babbaleon is in the Bible!

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    Worse, they can’t concentrate because they don’t get free lunches any more and have to work the lunch off by cleaning the school toilets ( an idea of Rep Virginia Fox.)

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    Fetuses For Acorn!

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    It was like that scene in an early Tony Curtis Arabia knights movie where he says: “Yondha stands da castle of my foddha.”

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    Pirated copies of the Victoria’s Secret undies ad are out selling the Koran at the moment.

  • http://poodyheads.wordpress.com/ zorbear

    Aren’t you being a bit overbearing? First you want them to learn to read, then you want them to learn to understand what they read…It just never ends with you, does it?
    /snark

  • ArthurH

    Both Darrell Issa and Rep. Mike Rogers are already denouncing the Times report, claiming the Times got it wrong. Issa said the video couldn’t have triggered the attack as few people have Internet access in Libya; while ignoring the article that said most of the attackers didn’t see the video but were told about from others with an agenda. Which is similar to the Tea Partiers getting their information only from Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck.

  • Indigo

    And space ships flew from plastic fishing line.

  • Indigo

    Ah-ha! Breaking Bad in real life, apparently. Thank you, I was sure there’s was a bankroll behind that movie and an agenda as well. Now it makes the kind of crazy sense that goes with a movie that irresponsible.

  • zerosumgame0005

    I feel for her, not only was the script bad enough as they were given to read, the ham-fisted voice insertions were obvious and moronic

  • Monoceros Forth

    I’ve speculated before that one of the reasons behind the persistence of the “birther” slander is hangover from Bush Jr. and the dubious legitimacy of his claim to the presidency. “You’re saying our guy didn’t really win the 2000 election? Well, your guy isn’t even a citizen, so there!”

  • fletcher

    Remember the good old days when amateur movie tycoons merely put college kids under a large carpet and passed it off as a monster from outer space?

  • http://www.americablog.com/ Naja pallida

    Ah, I misinterpreted which thing you were referring to being bankrolled, and assumed the attack itself for some reason, when we’re obviously talking more about the movie. :) It was bankrolled by a guy named Nakoula Basseley Nakoula (and at least a dozen other aliases). He’s a Coptic Christian, born in Egypt, and immigrated to the US. He lives in California, and has been arrested for making meth and bank fraud (opening bank accounts with stolen SS numbers), and served several years in prison. He was arrested after the release of the film and served another year in prison based on parole violations. He has since been released and is now being protected by Mike Huckabee’s buddy, and general asshole, Pastor Wiley Drake.

  • fletcher

    One female “actress” seen in the trailer said she was told it was for a minor role in an Arabian Nights flick and was shocked to see herself in the trailer. She declined to give her name in the interview, fearing she might end up on a jihad list. She added it was the only part she landed in seven years trying to pursue an acting career in Hollywood, which gives an idea of the quality behind that production.

  • http://www.newmillgay.com/ The_Fixer

    Not to mention that they hired no professionals when making this thing, and it’s painfully obvious in the results.

    First rule of filmaking: know how to make a film. Clearly that rule was violated.

  • sonoitabear

    Well, it’s just one more FACT for Darrel Issa to ignore…

  • UncleBucky

    Oooops, GOP/TPer party….

  • emjayay

    I suppose it goes without saying that none of that matters and it won’t happen. Back when Dick Cheney, the vice president of the United States, was appearing exclusively on Rush Limbaugh’s little show….well, any need for maintaining the appearance of integrity was obviously not an issue for any Republican anymore.

  • emjayay

    It obviously wasn’t all that much money. When you don’t have to buy and process film, the cost of filmmaking goes way down particularly when you skimp on everything else.

  • Richard

    Does Issa have a leading role in the movie ? …. lol

  • Monoceros Forth

    Who knows, Ed Wood might have approved even of the message! Some of his works betray evidence of good old-fashioned “conservative principles”, especially his script for the movie The Violent Years.

  • Drew2u

    Naw, then the excuse would be, “they’re the wrong religion so they are infidels and must die!”
    At least that’s one thing Al Queda and Teabangelicals have in common; mutually assured destruction.

  • Drew2u

    So Susan Rice gets her job back with full backpay and a formal apology from Car Alarm Guy, right?

  • jomicur

    Wow! It looks like the right wing doesn’t need Rick Santorum to produce atrocious movies. Somewhere in the great beyond, Ed Wood, Jr., is smiling.

  • Monoceros Forth

    But but but isn’t it the fault of decadent liberal permissiveness and sexual perversion that the turrists hate us so much?

    I swear, seriously, I came across just this argument recently that Muslim extremists are inflamed by America’s descent into moral turpitude. It must have been on Digbysblog that I read it but I can’t remember exactly where or when.

  • Indigo

    Not that what you’re saying doesn’t accurately describe social circumstances but it avoids the payment issue because somebody wrote a check to make that movie happen. I’d like to know who that was and, more to the point, where their financing came from.

  • Just_AC

    Yes, it would be interesting to see who financed this “movie”

  • zerosumgame0005

    any “actor” that lists it on their resume needs a good whoopin upsude their haid…

  • zerosumgame0005

    oh, are you talking about Montana and Utah?

  • zerosumgame0005

    to many of them thar silly-babble things in them wordies…

  • Monoceros Forth

    Look up “proximate” and “ultimate” some day, kid.

  • MyrddinWilt

    Remember when it was treason to point out that Doofus was an idiot or that not counting the votes in Florida meant he could never be a legitimate president? How things change when the jackboot is on the other foot.

    The link between the Benghazi attack and the video was obvious at the time as was the lack of any but the most tenuous connection to Al Qaeda.

    I get really fed up when the birther types are allowed to mouth treason and the GOP types sit there smirking. The fake benghazzi scandal is simply blowing smoke so that people will conclude there must be a fire.

    The GOP’s best hopes for 2016 are Chris ‘lardtub’ Christie and Rick Santorum. Which is to say not much hope for them at all if they can’t damage Hillary. So they will say anything to convince themselves that there is a scandal that would disqualify her.

    Don’t forget that the original reason that the GOP concocted the scandal was to cover up Mitt Romney’s own gaffe when he gleefully attacked the President with a campaign speech while the attack was in progress.

    Christie’s bridgegate might well sink him though. It is pretty clear now that there is a real scandal there, the only question is whether the bridge lane closures were ordered by Christie himself as revenge for not getting the endorsement of a local mayor or if it was the guy he appointed.

  • http://www.newmillgay.com/ The_Fixer

    Yes, indeed. Sometimes, they even look alike. Notice the resemblance of the Islamic fundamentalists to the Duck Dynasty dudes? Not only in appearance, but in rhetoric.

    In the end, it’s a game of “My god’s better than your god!” being played by two groups of people with the reasoning power of children.

  • Mike_in_the_Tundra

    i love Signorile’s comment. I love it so much that I want to give him a kiss. Of course, that desire has been with me for awhile.

  • http://www.newmillgay.com/ The_Fixer

    There is nothing wrong with being gay, I didn’t say that there is, and anyone who regularly sees my commentary here could come to that conclusion.

    I said that I understand their reasoning behind their response. That doesn’t mean I approve of it or the reasons behind it. Understanding does not infer approval, it just means you know how a response to an event came to be based on your knowledge of a situation. One can have an understanding of something without approving of it or thinking it’s legitimate.

    I understand that having one’s prophet being called gay would anger a religious fundamentalist. That doesn’t mean that I consider that, or the ensuing violent reaction, appropriate.

    I hope that clears things up.

  • S1AMER

    What matters little things like “facts” and “truth” to the right? Will they even hear about such things within their bubble?

    Or if they do give up on “Benghazi!” as an anti-Obama, anti-Hillary rallying cry, what’s next? (Personally, I’m convinced they’ll bring back “Vince Foster!” any day now [probably linking Obama to that one through his Chicago gay connections to that lesbian Hillary, or something].)

  • Bill_Perdue

    The central question is the invasion of Libya by the US and it’s NATO allies. Democrats and Republicans will continue to criticize each other but in fact both wholeheartedly supported the coup aimed at western hegemony over oil prices and distribution.

    The US attack on Libya was a clear warning to movements for change in the region, notably those associated with the Arab Spring, that opposition to US policies would not be tolerated. Beyond that it was another another example of the ferocity of the US/NATO policy of oil piracy. Those policies produced two genocides in Iraq, one, by Bill Clinton, that deliberately murdered half a million children and another by George Bush that killed another million plus during the US invasion and occupation. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=omnskeu-puE

    The murders to steal Libyan oil were much more modest. “I can’t tell you the exact figure but, as of now, the number of martyrs from the side of revolutionaries is in the range of 4,700,″ Duwadi told the paper. “But the number of missing persons from both … sides [Gaddafi forces and revolutionaries] is around 2,100. We are working hard to finish the final numbers. It is very important for the reconciliation process as well, that we know the exact [total] losses.” http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/jan/08/libyan-revolution-casualties-lower-expected-government

    The use of NATO aircraft and American drones was the key element in the anti-Gaddafi coup in the ongoing US/NATO wars to control oil. “The Libyan revolution of 2011 was always something of a phoney, not in the sense that Gaddafi was popular, but in the pretence that he had been overthrown by an armed opposition of Libyans and with NATO only playing a subsidiary role. The reality was that the military power that displaced and killed Gaddafi stemmed very largely from the US, Britain and France. Without Nato’s tactical air support in the form of ground attack aircraft and missiles the militiamen, who fought bravely for their own communities and cities, would not have lasted more than a few weeks. The militiamen who now purport to rule the country were in military terms largely a mopping up force.” http://www.counterpunch.org/2013/10/24/how-libya-fell-off-the-media-map/

  • Janfrans Zuidema

    “…but I do understand it.”

    What’s wrong with being gay?

  • Janfrans Zuidema

    “There is no doubt that anger over the video motivated many attackers.”

    Actually it is the religious duty of Muslims to protect the Prophet that motivated the attack. So Islam is the cause, not Islamophobia. The report of the NYT is very clear about that.

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    “You’d think that the rioters in Benghazi didn’t just laugh this one off.” Unfortunately Islamic morons are the equal of their Christian counterparts.

  • AdmNaismith

    Since 1980 and the rise of Saint Ronnie I have never seen the GOP concerned about facts.

    I don’t know what to say about a group of people who can be manipulated so easily by something so transparently inflammatory.

    But, just like Bush needed Osama bin Laden, so do manipulative imams need hateful bigoted (christian) shit like this to rile up the ignorant street masses. It’s the Circle Of Life Bullshit and everyone is culpable.

    (I thought this video was taken off of YouTube)

  • http://www.newmillgay.com/ The_Fixer

    I can’t believe anyone would ever have the balls to put that piece of crap out for public consumption. I have never seen anything so bad in my life that wasn’t done by fourth-graders.

    This atrocity has it all – green-screened desert scenes, bad dubbing of obvious in-studio audio tracks, and audio quality that obviously betrays its origin as being a garage “stage”. I am surprised that we didn’t hear passing traffic. You’d think that the rioters in Benghazi didn’t just laugh this one off. It’s so obviously amateurish that one is almost compelled to laugh at it. But when your prophet is basically called a pedophile and gay (which is certainly a fate worse than death to Fundamentalists of any stripe), I have an understanding of how they would react by storming the nearest American facility. Of course I don’t consider that an appropriate response, but I do understand it.

    The NYT investigation finds that the Republican’s version of events had no basis in fact. Well, that’s certainly surprising (not). Think we’ll hear much of this on the Sunday morning “news” programs? I wouldn’t hold my breath. At least not without ample time for a Republican rebuttal and ensuing minimizing.

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    I’ve seen better videos done by high school A/V clubs.

    But if anybody thinks these revelations will do anything to stop the GOPer self-fellating obsession with ‘Benghaaaaaziiiiiiiii!’ — forget it. All you need to do is look at what happened with the Clinton Whitewater panty-sniffing investigation and realize that the goons actually had a modicum of shame and self-restraint back then.

    They don’t anymore. And reality itself makes no difference to them. I mean, fercrissakes, we still have goddamned BIRTHERS out there. And they’re not laughed off the air.

  • Cletus

    Geez, Roger Ebert would have burned down a consulate over this dreck.

  • http://www.americablog.com/ Naja pallida

    Nobody specific really needs to bankroll it when you’re talking about a nation that has no real serious amount of law and order, which results in it being full of little factions and people that have their own arsenals of guns and grenades stashed away, just waiting – literally praying, for any excuse to go on a murderous rampage. Here we call it the militia movement.

  • cole3244

    oh no, the chicago mafia has infiltrated the ny times.

  • MyrddinWilt

    The Republicans won’t care. They don’t even care about getting elected. All they care about is pushing the buttons of the ignorant rubes who follow them and get them to send another $50 to a victory fund they are skimming.

    Facts don’t affect them, they don’t care about facts, all they care about is liming their own pockets.

  • Indigo

    Astonishing! Who bankrolls that crap?

  • http://www.americablog.com/ Naja pallida

    This is just the final piece of evidence we need to understand that Darrell Issa’s self-aggrandizement is nothing more than the autoerotic fixation of a sad little man who covets power he is incapable of wielding. If Boehner had any courage at all, with this and the Issa traveling circus waste of tax payer dollars as his reasoning, he would strip him of his chairmanship and throw him on the dung heap with Dan Burton, where he belongs.

  • pappyvet

    Not to serve the truth but to serve themselves and do all within their power to smear this President. Typical.

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