Benghazi ringleader: Anti-Muslim video inspired attack

Well, isn’t that embarrassing. Libyan national Ahmed Abu Khattala, a ringleader of the deadly attack on America’s diplomatic consulate in Benghazi, Libya, apprehended this weekend by US Special Forces, reportedly said that the attack was motivated as a response to an anti-Muslim American video.

The admission by Khattala is more than a bit inconvenient for congressional critics of President Obama’s handling of the crisis, as those “Benghazi truthers” had claimed until this point that it was absurd to suggest that the inflammatory video played any part in inspiring the attacksthat left an American ambassador, and three other US citizens, dead.

Khattala’s statements back up an earlier NYT report that suggested the video did in fact play a role.

More from the NYT:

Actual scene from "Innocence of Muslims."

Actual scene from “Innocence of Muslims.”

Mr. Abu Khattala told other Libyans in private conversations during the night of the attack that he was moved to attack the diplomatic mission to take revenge for an insult to Islam in an American-made online video.

An earlier demonstration venting anger over the video outside the American Embassy in Cairo had culminated in a breach of its walls, and it dominated Arab news coverage. Mr. Abu Khattala told both fellow Islamist fighters and others that the attack in Benghazi was retaliation for the same insulting video, according to people who heard him.

The video in question is called “Innocence of Muslims,” and it suggested, among other things that the Muslim prophet Mohammed was a gay pedophile.

Apparently, Muslims were less than impressed by the American film’s suggestion that their God rapes children.

Keep in mind that at this point, there had already been violence in a number of cities around the world in response to cartoons criticizing Mohammed.  That’s not to suggest that the violence was merited.  It is, however, to suggest that violence as a response to criticism of Mohammed should not come entirely as a surprise.

Let me put it another way. You decide to walk home alone at 3am through a really bad part of town, while twirling your gold necklace in the air and counting the money in your wallet, out loud, by counts of 100. No one would suggest that you deserve to be mugged. But we wouldn’t be terribly surprised if you were.

In any case, the GOP outrage machine made great hay out of the Obama administration claim that the video may have played a role in the attack. And now we find out that — what do you know? — the Obama administration was right all along.

The Department of Justice announced last night that terrorism charges have been filed against Khattala. From DOJ:

The charges were announced upon the unsealing of a three-count criminal complaint. The lead count in the complaint is a death-eligible offense. The complaint, which was filed under seal on July 15, 2013, in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, charges Khatallah with:
— Killing a person in the course of an attack on a federal facility involving the use of a firearm and dangerous weapon and attempting and conspiring to do the same.
— Providing, attempting and conspiring to provide material support to terrorists resulting in death.
— Discharging, brandishing, using, carrying and possession of a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence.

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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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