By Aaron Klein
Is there a Benghazi connection to the killing of a veteran Islamic jihadist Saturday in a U.S. airstrike in Libya?
The Libyan government announced the airstrike Sunday, with the U.S. confirming the target was Mokhtar Belmokhtar, an Algerian terrorist who was said to have been the mastermind of the In Amenas, Algeria, gas facility attack in January 2013 in which 40 people were killed during a three-day siege.
Belmokhtar helped to lead several rebel-driven insurgencies across North Africa. The French military previously labeled him “The Uncatchable” after he evaded numerous assassination and arrest attempts.
Pentagon spokesman Col. Steve Warren said the U.S. military was assessing the results of the operation and could not yet confirm that Belmohktar was killed in the strike.
Libyan sources told Reuters the attack on a farmhouse in Ajdabiya city near Benghazi also killed seven members of the Ansar al Sharia terrorist group who had been meeting there.
Ansar al-Sharia was blamed by the U.S. for leading the Sept. 11, 2012, Benghazi attack.
With the notable exception of CNN, much of the media coverage of Belmokhtar’s purported death in the strike fails to mention his alleged direct ties to the Benghazi attack.
CNN previously reported a link between the Benghazi attack and Belmokhtar’s In Amenas, Algeria, gas complex siege.
In May 2013, CNN quoted two sources with high-level access to Western intelligence agencies who disclosed that several Yemeni men belonging to Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP, took part in the Benghazi attack.
The sources revealed counter-terrorism officials learned the identity of the three men and later traced them to northern Mali, where they are believed to have connected with the jihad organization led by Belmoktar.
Another intelligence source told CNN that Belmoktar had received a call in the aftermath of the Benghazi attack from someone in or close to the city.
The person on the other end of the call declared, “Mabruk, Mabruk!” meaning “congratulations” in Arabic, according to the source.
The source told CNN that the call was made to Belmokhtar.
The CIA had no comment on the alleged call.
Besides the CNN report, an Algerian security official told the New York Times that three of the terrorists who survived the Algerian gas siege said they were aided by Egyptian extremists who were involved in Benghazi attack.
In August 2013, Reuters reported on several links between the Benghazi and Algerian gas complex attackers.
One source with knowledge of U.S. investigations into the two attacks told Reuters “some of the men” involved in the Algerian siege also took part in the Benghazi attack.
A second source cited by Reuters said there “had definitely been some kind of contact between the Benghazi and In Amenas attackers” but could not say to what extent.
Reuters further reported that a third source “said some of the jihadis at In Amenas had bought weapons and stayed for months in the Libyan city of El Aouinet near the Algerian border, where they met some of the men behind the Benghazi attack.”
There are also similarities between some of the motives of Belmokhtar’s Algeria siege and the Benghazi attack.
One of the main demands of the Algeria hostage-takers was the release of the so-called “blind sheik,” Omar Abdel-Rahman, held in the U.S. over the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.
A Judicial Watch lawsuit resulted in the release of a Pentagon document dated Sept. 12, 2012, the day after the Benghazi attack, which detailed that the attack on the U.S. compound had been carefully planned by the “Brigades of the Captive Omar Abdel-Rahman.”
In January 2014, a Senate investigation for the first time confirmed an Egyptian organization called the Mohammad Jamal Network participated in the Benghazi attack, as WND reported.
One of the Network’s goals is the freedom of Rahman.
Circumstantial evidence possibly even links the Benghazi attack to former Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi’s campaign to free Abdel-Rahman.
The blind sheik’s release was one of the Morsi’s main foreign policy issues.
In July 2014, several major Arabic newspapers ran with a story, first reported by the Kuwaiti paper Al Rai, quoting a Libyan intelligence report on the Benghazi attack that mentions an alleged connection to Morsi and other prominent Egyptian figures.
The report, prepared by Mahmoud Ibrahim Sharif, director of national security for Libya, is based on purported confessions of some of the jihadists arrested at the scene.
The report states that “among the more prominent figures whose names were mentioned by cell members during confessions were: Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi; preacher Safwat Hegazi; Saudi businessman Mansour Kadasa, owner of the satellite station Al-Nas; Egyptian Sheik Muhammad Hassan; former presidential candidate, Hazim Salih Abu Ismail.”
Unsubstantiated Arabic-language reports from the Middle East also claimed passport belonging to the alleged killer of Ambassador Chris Stevens had been recovered at the home of Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood deputy leader Khairat Al-Shater.
Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., reportedly visited al-Shater in prison, spending over an hour talking to the Brotherhood leader.
There is other information pointing to Morsi’s possible involvement in the Benghazi attack.
YouTube videos of the attack show some of the jihadists speaking an Egyptian dialect of Arabic, as previously reported by FrongPageMag.
One of the videos shows a jihadist carrying out the attack while stating in an Egyptian dialect, “Don’t shoot, don’t shoot, Dr. Morsi sent us.”
With additional research by Joshua Klein.