Catherine Herridge reported suspects in the September 11, 2012 Benghazi attack have ties to senior Al Qaeda members Wednesday on Fox News.
Among the five key suspects wanted by the FBI, according to Herridge, at least two are closely connected to core Al Qaeda leadership. One served as a courier for senior Al Qaeda members and another is believed to have been a bodyguard for senior Al Qaeda leadership in Afghanistan in 2001.
Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee Mike Rogers (R., Mich.) would not get into specifics on the suspects with Herridge, but said the connections to “Al Qaeda core” are “certainly there” and the attack itself was almost certainly not spontaneous:
CATHERINE HERRIDGE: Thank you, Jenna, good morning. Among the two dozen suspects wanted by the FBI Fox News learned there are five key actors, among them a suspect who is believed to have been a one-time courier for Al Qaeda senior leadership and a second suspect who is believed to be former bodyguard with the Al Qaeda leadership in Afghanistan in 2001. The Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee Mike Rogers who receives regular intelligence briefings and whose staffers continue to investigate the Benghazi attack would not discuss specific suspects but said the ties to Al Qaeda leadership, also known as Al Qaeda core, are still there.
MIKE ROGERS: They could still be considered to have strong ties because you’re in the ring of operations of Al Qaeda core.
HERRIDGE: And that was true in this case?
ROGERS: There are individuals that certainly fit that definition.
HERRIDGE: Raj al Shalabi is the one of the Benghazi suspects who fled to Pakistan after the attack. He was returned to Libyan custody and later released. His alleged ties to Osama Bin Laden date back to 1994, when this picture was first posted by Interpol who sought his attention after the murder of a German intelligence officer and his wife. As for the level of premeditation, based on the intelligence and his investigation Rogers told Fox News that the attack was not spontaneous nor was it thrown together quickly in response to these protests at the U.S. embassy in Cairo on 9/11 last year.
ROGERS: I believe they had an aspirational phase that was probably months. I believe that they had a operational phase that lasted at least a couple of weeks, maybe even longer. And then an initiation phase that lasted a couple or three days prior to the event itself. This notion that they just showed up and this was spontaneous act does not comport with at least the information we’ve seen, at least on the Intelligence Committee.
HERRIDGE: So the two data points, Jenna, one, that there was certainly evidence of preplanning and the second that at least two of the suspects are believed to have ties to the Al Qaeda senior leadership really moved the story forward in a significant way.