According to highly trusted sources, the Obama administration had received warnings of threats to attack as many as seven US missions in the Middle East on the anniversary of 9/11. As early as September 4, and again a few days later, the warnings were received, but largely ignored.
The embassies were not put on high alert, which is standard procedure in the face of such threats. So they were not prepared for the attacks that occurred on Tuesday night. In fact, at the Cairo embassy, the Marines were unarmed, by order of Ambassador to Egypt Anne Patterson, who did not permit them to carry live ammunition in their weapons.
Contrary to first reports, the attack against the Libyan Consulate in Benghazi yesterday was not a ‘spontaneous’ mob action. It was, in fact, a well-coordinated military attack, targeting an unfortified building serving as the US Consulate in Benghazi, to remind us that the war that began with 9/11 is far from over. The building had none of the standard physical protections of a US diplomatic mission, no armed Marines, and no deterring perimeter. According to consulate personnel, the Consulate may have been under surveillance prior to the attack, and the attack itself was carried out in military-style waves, by well-armed attackers using heavy assault weapons, including RPGs (rocket propelled grenades).
The brutal murder of Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans had nothing to do with a low-budget film on youtube that insulted Mohammed, despite recurring statements to the contrary. The film was only an excuse, used to engage people already on the edge of anti-American hysteria.
Meanwhile in Egypt, violent demonstrations continue in front of the US Embassy in Cairo, and the government has done nothing to stop them. In fact, the Muslim Brotherhood, of which Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi has been a long-time leader, has called for more demonstrations for Friday, the Muslim Sabbath. During the revolution last year, Friday prayers were typically the venue in which the Muslim Brotherhood called worshipers into the street to join demonstrations against the government. Now that the government is run by the Muslim Brotherhood, calls to demonstrations will undoubtedly be aimed at anti-American protests.
Because US Ambassador to Egypt Anne Patterson did not allow the US Marine tasked to protect the Embassy to carry live ammunition, they were helpless in the face of the violent attack against the building, putting everyone inside at mortal risk. Washington has declined to comment on the security at either the Cairo or Benghazi missions.
The initial US reaction to the first attacks on the Embassy in Cairo were posted by an Embassy staff member on twitter. The statement blamed the film-makers and not the attackers, and apologized for ‘misguided’ people who insulted Islam. It took nine hours for Washington to retract that apologetic statement, removing all the tweets from the website.
Later, Secretary of State Clinton dignified the attacks by calling the video “disgusting and reprehensible.”, thereby validating the claim that it was the cause of the attacks. She also said that it was no justification for violence, and that America would never stop its citizens from expressing their views, “no matter how distasteful”, disregarding accumulating evidence that the video was not the cause of the unrest.
Today the President announced that a FAST Team of 50 Marines has been sent to Libya to secure the US Embassy in Tripoli, and two destroyers will be standing off-shore in the Mediterranean, although the destroyers have not yet been given any specific mission, except perhaps to ‘look mean’.
It is the mission of GerardDirect.com not only to bring you news of rapidly changing world events, from sources not generally followed on American mainstream media. We are also tasked to analyze those events and to report to our readers what they mean within the broader context of world affairs, and how they affect America and our closest allies.
Since early February 2011, at the beginning of the so-called “Arab Spring”, and shortly after the start of the uprising in Egypt, we have been warning our readers that the groups initiating the “democracy” revolutions would be quickly overtaken by Islamists. This, we said, would happen in Egypt, and later in Libya.
We reported that Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood would soon abandon its claim that it had no interest in leading the government; and that the very forces we were supporting in Libya, the so-called ‘freedom fighters’, were being rapidly taken over by al Qaeda and fighters returning from Afghanistan and Iraq, where they had been fighting against US forces.
We reported that after the death of Qadhaffi in the streets of Tripoli, squads of heavily armed mobs, from the forces we had supported, were targeting civilians with rape and murder. The heavy weapons have remained on the street until today and lawlessness persists in many parts of the country.
We also reported that the draft Constitution, which the US State Department had helped the Libyans to write, contained on its first page the statement that “Islam is the religion of the State, and the principal source of legislation is Islamic Jurisprudence (Shariah).”
We warned that what would follow would not be a society based on democratic principles, but instead would become an Islamist state, governed under Shariah law. We also warned that the chaos which continued in Libya long after Gadhaffi was killed would continue, with ongoing sectarian and inter-tribal fighting, and mob rule would prevail in many sections of the country.
Finally, we warned that the rolling revolutions in the Middle East would replace secular societies with Islamist governments, ruling under Shariah law; that they would not result in governments friendly to the United States, but would in fact give rise to new enemies who would pretend friendship only so long as the US would provide financial aid.
Clinton’s first statement, “Violence is no way to honor religion”, reveals as much as anything else she said, that her understanding of radical Islam fails to grasp the essential character of radical Islam, which supports violence against those who do not embrace Islamist principles. A strong American response is now required to preempt further attacks on US facilities abroad. Such a response will make the difference between a bad situation stopped in its tracks or a developing situation that will continue to fester and erupt in further attacks against Americans abroad and at home.
New demonstrations in Yemen, Iraq, Oman, Tunisia, and on the West Bank in Israel bear out this forecast, made yesterday shortly after the news from Egypt and Libya was first reported. Countries throughout the region are now bracing for demonstrations on Friday – from Qatar to Jordan – and in Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood is calling for a ‘Million Man March’.
Today, the world continues to wait for a strong American response to these attacks and the growing unrest in other parts of the Middle East. An awakening to the reality in the Middle East that US foreign policies have helped to create is long overdue.
After the first news of the attack in Benghazi, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton asked, “How can this happen in a country we helped to liberate?” The answer lies in our national blindness to the consequences of encouraging violent change in regions whose cultures we do not understand.
America has been the world leader of the free world for our entire lifetimes. Whatever we do – or do not do – in the conduct of world affairs, there are consequences. We meddled with the politics of the Middle East, participated in the fall of tyrants and the creation of new tyrannies, and now we are the targets of attacks from those we empowered. It is unconscionable that we have let this happen.
The placement of US battleships off the coast of Libya will only help defuse the situation if they are accompanied by an equally strong mission, and a message not only to Libyan terrorists, but to the mobs now aggregating throughout the Middle East.
We must call the attacks on American diplomatic missions exactly what they are: acts of war against the United States, and behave accordingly.
We must immediately cut off all funding from countries whose leaders allow such attacks and even enable them to continue.
We must be prepared to deliver an appropriate response to terror against us from a strong and unbowed America.
We must repair our damaged standing in the world that has resulted from the foreign policies that our government has fostered – appeasing our enemies, turning our back on our allies, and compromising our security, both overseas and at home.
If we do not show that America is strong and unwilling to play the victim, the attacks will continue to spread and our ability to participate in the outcome will be dangerously marginalized.
Ilana Freedman is CEO and Director of Intelligence at Gerard Group International, with over twenty-five years in the field. She is Editor of GerardDirect.com, and an author and frequent speaker on the subject of Middle East terrorism and its impact on the Western world.