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Authors: Kenneth R. Timmerman

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Dark Forces: The Truth About What Happened in Benghazi

BOOK: Dark Forces: The Truth About What Happened in Benghazi
12.53Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub




“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”

—John 15:13 (KJV)

“The global network of espionage is a dark underworld, full of ruthless individuals, a moral vacuum where ego and self-gratification generally rule.”

—Former CIA officer Kevin Shipp,
Company of Shadows


This book relies extensively on sources developed over the past two decades, including present and former U.S. government officials, trusted sources within the intelligence community, and members of Congress. I have also been aided by extensive access to defectors from Iranian intelligence organizations who agreed to assist my investigations at great risk to themselves and to their networks inside Iran.

I was particularly blessed to receive assistance from a network of Special Forces operators, both U.S. and foreign, including individuals who worked on the ground in Benghazi and who wanted to share their experience and insights to ensure that I got this story right.

Some of the sources I relied on for information and analysis I can name. Representatives Darrell Issa, Jason Chaffitz, Ed Royce, James Lankford, Martha Roby, Louis Gohmert, Trent Franks, and their staffs were particularly helpful. So were Representative Frank Wolf, who led the charge to create a select committee to investigate Benghazi; Senator Jim Inhofe; and former House Intelligence Committee chairman Representative Pete Hoekstra. Senator Dianne Feinstein and her Republican colleague, Senator Saxby Chambliss, produced the most far-reaching report on Benghazi to date. Many other members of Congress from both parties also worked hard to get at the truth and deserve the appreciation of all Americans.

A special thanks to Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Wood, who headed the security detail at the U.S Embassy in Tripoli; to Rear Admiral Richard Landolt, Director of Operations (J3) at AFRICOM; to former CIA officers John Maguire, Dewey Clarridge, Bob Baer, Clare Lopez, Larry Johnson, Wayne Simmons, Kevin Shipp, and Gary Bernsten; to Charles Woods, father of Ty Woods; to Colonel Dick Brauer, Captain Larry Bailey, and other members of the organization Special Operations Speaks; to Charles and Mary Ann Strange and to Billy and Karen Vaughn, parents of SEAL Team 6 members who perished on
Extortion 17
in Afghanistan, and to Larry Klayman and Dina James, who introduced me to them; to Chris Farrell of Judicial Watch; Roger Aronoff of Accuracy in Media; Major General Paul Vallely, Lieutenant General Tom McInerney, and Admiral James (“Ace”) Lyons of the Citizens Commission on Benghazi; Victoria Toensing; former Libyan ambassador Ali Aujali; Simon Henderson of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy; researcher Tom Anderson with the National Legal and Policy Center; Sebastian Gorka, Walid Phares, Patrick Sookhdeo, and Tawfiq Hamid; former UN official Salim Raad; Maurice Botbol, Bernard Lugan, Jean-Louis Bruguiere, and Michel Garfunkiel in France; and Steve and Shoshana Bryen, always a source of insight and wisdom. And a special hat tip to the extraordinary reporting of Catherine Herridge at Fox News, Sharyl Attkisson at her former employer CBS News, Jerome Corsi at, and to bloggers Walid Shoebat, Cynthia Farahat, and Raymond Ibrahim.

Others I cannot name. You know who you are. It is my honor to say that, together, we serve the cause of freedom.

My family as ever have provided a finely tuned sounding board, while sharing the frustration of confronting frequent lies, obfuscation, and false leads that surround this story. I can only guess what our next adventure will be. I am blessed to be able to share your lives.


Four dead Americans, one missing general, and thirty missing Special Operations and intelligence personnel from a black site in Libya . . .

A congressman so terrified of compromising classified U.S. government operations that he interrupts a public hearing three times in an attempt to prevent witnesses from talking . . .

Family members of SEAL Team 6 outraged at Pentagon stonewalling over an ill-fated operation that cost the lives of seventeen of their loved ones in Afghanistan, where U.S. military helicopters were getting shot down by Stinger missiles provided by the CIA to Islamic groups in Libya . . .

What really happened in Benghazi?

We know one thing for sure: The story concocted by the Obama administration on the night of the attack, of a demonstration caused by an Internet movie that went out of control, bears no resemblance to the truth. It’s not even close.

So, why all the lies?

No Americans died during Watergate or as a result of Iran-Contra. That is what makes the attacks of September 11, 2012, in Libya the deepest, the darkest, and the dirtiest political scandal of recent American history.

It’s a story of clandestine arms deliveries by the United States and its allies to Libya that wound up in the hands of Islamist guerillas allied with al Qaeda. It’s a story of a romantic diplomat, in love with the Middle East and with a mystical version of Islam, who gets caught up in a whirlwind beyond his comprehension or control. It’s a story of bald-faced lies, heroic acts, and the deepest corruption.

This is the true story of what happened in Benghazi.


On August 25, 2012, a Libyan fishing boat,
Al Entisar
, docked in the southern Turkish port of Iskenderun, where Libyan Islamists unloaded 400 tons of weapons and military supplies they had brought from Benghazi.

They had purchased the weapons from stockpiles left over from the fight against Muammar Qaddafi, with funds provided by U.S. allies Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

The arrival of so many weapons created havoc between a local Islamist supposed charity, which claimed control over the goods, and brigades of the Free Syrian Army, which said it needed them on the battlefield.

“Everyone wanted a piece of the ship,” said Suleiman Hawari, an Australian-Syrian working with the ship’s captain from Benghazi. “Certain groups wanted to get involved and claim the cargo for themselves. It took a long time to work through the logistics.”

The infighting among rival rebel commanders reached a feverish pitch, and caught the attention of the Turkish authorities and their allies. Because, as the rebels argued over who would get what, word leaked out that weapons were on the ground, and foreign journalists started asking questions.

On September 2, CIA director David Petraeus made an unannounced trip to Ankara hoping to straighten out the mess. He was worried by reports that the shipment included portable surface-to-air missiles, known as MANPADS, deadly weapons the United States was desperately trying to collect because of the threat they posed to civilian airliners.

Down in Iskenderun, the Libyans were boasting to journalists that they were going to be the kingmakers in Syria and would shoot down Syrian Air Force jets and helicopters.

Hillary Clinton was just as worried as Petraeus, since she had been a big supporter of the secret arms pipeline to the Libyan rebels that helped them get rid of Qaddafi. Among those weapons, my sources reveal, were 400 CIA-supplied Stingers and 50 launchers (see chapter 5). These were an upgraded version of the deadly missiles the Reagan administration supplied to the Afghan mujahideen that helped them to defeat the Soviet army in the late 1980s.

If word got out that U.S. MANPADS—or even Russian-made missiles from Qaddafi’s looted stockpiles—were on the loose in Syria, there would be hell to pay. The Libyans were just too chaotic, too disorganized, and too damn talkative. Someone had to get them back on the reservation.

The man who knew the militias and tribal elders in Benghazi best was not a spy, but a diplomat: U.S. Ambassador to Libya J. Christopher Stevens.

Stevens knew the rebel leaders. He had broken bread with them as the State Department’s special envoy to Benghazi in the heady days of the anti-Qaddafi uprising in 2011. So, in early September 2012, Hillary Clinton instructed him to travel from Tripoli to Benghazi to see what he could do.

This book is a narrative of the events that led up to that deadly decision, as well as its consequences. It sets out the facts as we have come to learn them, reveals new information, and dispels quite a number of rumors that have inevitably clouded the picture of what happened that night, and why.


Ambassador Stevens arrived in Benghazi on September 10, 2012. Everyone knew the situation on the ground was dicey. Indeed, just a few days earlier, Stevens himself had cabled to Washington that the Benghazi Mission was on “maximum alert,” because of an intensifying series of anti-Western terrorist attacks (see chapter 12).

As soon as he arrived at the Special Mission Compound (often, but inaccurately, referred to as the “Consulate”), he was briefed by the State Department’s Regional Security Officer on new evacuation procedures in case of emergency.

His next stop was to visit a building known as “the Annex,” the top-secret headquarters of the CIA team that had been training the Libyan rebels and now was assisting the MANPADS collection effort. There he was briefed about the weapons shipment to Turkey that was giving everyone such headaches.

That evening, he dined with tribal elders at a local hotel. Despite efforts by his security detail to keep the meeting quiet, the local press showed up. The word was out: The U.S. ambassador was in town.

The next day was the eleventh anniversary of the September 11, 2001, terror attacks on America. It began with an eerie warning that went unheeded.

At around 6:45 AM, one of the local unarmed security guards at the mission noticed that a Libyan policeman had parked his car by the front gate and climbed to the roof of a building under construction just across the street, from which he was taking photographs inside the mission’s thirteen-acre walled compound.

The information so alarmed the State Department Regional Security Officer that he drafted letters of complaint to the Benghazi police chief and to the Libyan Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to report the troubling surveillance by someone in police uniform in an official police car.

However, Ambassador Stevens pursued his mission undeterred, meeting with local political contacts, the head of a Turkish shipping company in Benghazi, and, ultimately, with the Turkish consul general in Benghazi, Ali Sait Akin. According to the timeline provided by the State Department, Stevens escorted Akin to the front gate of the walled compound at around 7:40 PM.

No one noticed anything out of the ordinary. However, unbeknownst to Stevens or his meager security detail, he was being watched. His emergence on the street gave a crucial—and unexpected—“eyes-on” confirmation of his presence in the compound to the man who masterminded the attacks that night.

I will name that mastermind and his accomplices. Their presence in Benghazi that night, and for several months beforehand, has never been publicly revealed.

The first wave of attacks began at 9:42 PM and happened so quickly that the Mission complex was a burning wreck and the ambassador missing within twenty minutes. Reinforcements from the CIA Annex arrived roughly forty-five minutes after the attack began. It took them another fifteen minutes to fight their way into the compound and rescue the State Department security officers who had hunkered down without ever firing a shot. Together, they began the search for the missing ambassador and State Department Communications Officer Sean Smith.

It’s been said repeatedly that the initial attack occurred so fast that nothing could have been done to save Ambassador Stevens or Sean Smith. However, my sources, and a careful examination of the official record, show that that is not true. Tyrone Woods, who died later that night defending the Annex, was told three times to stand down by his CIA chief of base during the first critical twenty-two minutes of the attack, even though he had assembled an immediate reaction force of heavily armed Special Forces troops who were ready to roll.

They were a five-minute drive from the diplomatic compound. Had they arrived at the beginning of the attack, just as the fires were being lit, there’s a good chance that they could have saved the ambassador and Sean Smith.

Seven hours later, a precision mortar attack on the CIA Annex killed former Navy SEALs Tyrone (Ty) Woods and Glen Doherty in less than a minute. As I will reveal in chapter 14, the men who fired those mortars were trained and commanded by officers from the Quds Force, the overseas terrorist battalion of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC).

Benghazi was a state-sponsored terrorist attack, carried out on orders from the leadership of the Islamic Republic of Iran.


Many questions about the Benghazi debacle remain unanswered, despite a multitude of congressional hearings and media investigations:

Why did Washington turn down repeated requests for additional security at the Benghazi diplomatic compound? Why did Secretary of State Hillary Clinton demand that it remain open, despite multiple, specific threats to the compound—even as other countries and international organizations were fleeing Benghazi because of intensifying, jihadi violence, in addition to specific threats to the U.S. compound?

Why weren’t reinforcements sent that night from Croatia, where a fifty-man U.S. Army C-110 counterterrorism/hostage rescue team was engaged in a military training mission? Or from Naval Air Station Sigonella in Sicily, a 450-mile flight away?

Why wasn’t President Obama personally engaged in coordinating the response?

Why did Hillary Clinton and John Brennan decide to stand down the State Department–led Foreign Emergency Support Team (FEST), an extraordinary operational unit, which was standing by and whose main purpose was to rescue U.S. diplomats under attack?

Why were no precautionary measures taken anywhere in the world to protect U.S. assets and facilities on the anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks?

Who concocted the outrageous cover story that the attack was a spontaneous protest over an Internet movie, when, in fact, there were no reports of a protest, but of a massive and well-coordinated attack?

As Congress continues its investigation into the Benghazi attacks, we will learn a lot more about these issues.

However, the big question not being asked is this: Why even bother sending a top diplomat to Benghazi when the State Department and the CIA knew how dangerous it was? The answer, I believe, reveals the utter cynicism of Hillary Clinton and her reckless disregard for the men and women who served under her command.

In Watergate, the big questions were: What did the president know, and when did he know it?

In Benghazi, this became: What did Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama know about the covert arms transfers to the Syrian rebels, and when did they know it?

In chapter 12, I reveal for the first time evidence that an illegal covert action was being run out of the White House.


The Benghazi attacks were the culmination of a dramatic shift in U.S. policy, set into motion by President Obama in the weeks and months after he took office in 2009.

His famous tilt to the Muslim world, aimed at convincing Muslim leaders and public opinion that the United States was not at war with Islam, achieved results far beyond the president’s wildest expectations. It convinced Muslim leaders that the United States had lost its resolve and was not to be taken seriously. It convinced them that the United States was weak.

It began with President Obama’s overture to the Islamic Republic of Iran in 2009, and his stubborn refusal to hear the calls from millions of pro-freedom demonstrators in the streets of Iranian cities, begging for U.S. support. Rather than help the forces of freedom, President Obama sought a deal with the radical leadership of Iran’s Islamist regime, a deal that is continuing to play out today.

As the Arab Spring took off in mid-January 2011, spreading from Tunisia to Egypt and finally a month later to Libya, the United States quickly discarded longtime allies to embrace forces aligned with the Muslim Brotherhood.

In Tunisia, we dropped the pro-Western Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali in favor of exiled Muslim Brotherhood leader Rachid Ghannouchi.

In Egypt, we ditched long-term U.S. ally Hosni Mubarak, who had kept the peace with Israel for thirty years, in favor of a volatile coalition of Islamist organizations ultimately dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood.

In Libya, the United States joined with Muslim jihadis, many of whom had close ties to al Qaeda, to overthrow a Qaddafi who had voluntarily ended his WMD programs and cut off his support to international terrorist groups, in hopes of becoming a friend of the West.

Some of the jihadis we supported in Libya had been captured fighting against us on the battlefields of Afghanistan or Pakistan and sent to Guantánamo Bay.

To nurture the struggle against Qaddafi, the CIA set up shop in Benghazi in early 2011 to arm and train the rebels, both directly and through proxies. Once Qaddafi was overthrown in September 2011, this covert operation shifted gears to aid similar groups in Syria, the newest front in the Muslim Brotherhood war on secular Mideast regimes.

The Benghazi arms pipeline went awry from the very start. One of the partners the United States engaged was Qatar, a tiny emirate in the Persian Gulf best known for its sponsorship of Al Jazeera, which critics refer to as Jihad TV.

My sources relate an astonishing incident in the desert of northern Chad, where a French military patrol confronted a convoy led by Qatari special forces officers that was bringing Stingers and other advanced weapons to the Libyan rebels at the start of the fight against Qaddafi. When the French officers sought to intercept it, they were told by Paris to stand down, because the shipment had been approved by Washington.

BOOK: Dark Forces: The Truth About What Happened in Benghazi
12.53Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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