July 11, 2013 | Quote
Benghazi Response May Encourage More Jihadist Attacks in N. Africa
The U.S. should prepare for future terrorist attacks in North Africa that would be even more difficult to police than last year's assault that left four Americans dead in the Eastern Libyan city of Benghazi, counter-terrorism specialists said Wednesday.
“Future attacks, particularly those in North Africa, are likely to involve a Benghazi-style mix of jihadists of different nationalities, making it difficult to determine exactly who is responsible,” Daniel Byman, a professor of security studies at Georgetown University, testified to a joint subcommittee hearing of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
What's potentially worse, Mr. Byman told lawmakers, is that the acquiescent manner in which U.S. authorities responded to the deadly attacks on a U.S. diplomatic post and CIA house in Benghazi is “likely to leave us less prepared for future terrorism” in the region.
He pointed to a situation that unfolded after Libyan jihadists who — like the then-rising al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden — had joined the fight against the Soviet army in Afghanistan during the 1980s. They “came home to overthrow the Gadhafi regime and install an Islamic state,” Mr. Zelin said. “They of course failed, but we could see a repeat of this phenomenon, and unlike in the 1990s, Libya is a weak state where much of its territory is not truly controlled by the central government.”
Similar testimony was offered by Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, who heads the Center for the Study of Terrorist Radicalization at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
Lawmakers also heard testimony from Michael L. Lovelady, who recounted his experience learning about the death of his brother, Victor L. Lovelady, killed during January's attack by Islamist militants on a natural gas plant in Algeria.