U.S. authorities now suspect that the 9/11/12 attacks were orchestrated by at least one Islamist extremist who escaped jail during the Arab Spring protests in Egypt. The WSJ reports:
Fighters linked to one freed militant, Muhammad Jamal Abu Ahmad, took part in the Sept. 11 attack on U.S. diplomatic outposts in Libya that killed four Americans, U.S. officials believe based on initial reports. Intelligence reports suggest that some of the attackers trained at camps he established in the Libyan Desert, a former U.S. official said.
Western officials say Mr. Ahmad has petitioned the chief of al Qaeda, to whom he has long ties, for permission to launch an al Qaeda affiliate and has secured financing from al Qaeda’s Yemeni wing.
U.S. spy agencies have been tracking Mr. Ahmad’s activities for several months. The Benghazi attacks gave a major boost to his prominence in their eyes.
Mr. Ahmad, although believed to be one of the most potent of the new militant operatives emerging from the chaos of the Arab Spring, isn’t the only one, according to Western officials. They say others are also trying to exploit weaknesses in newly established governments and develop a capacity for strikes that could go well beyond recent violent protests in Libya, Egypt and elsewhere.
So to recap: the NATO invasion of Libya opened up the Libyan desert for militants to set up training camps, and the Arab Spring, which was supposed to usher in an age of liberal democracy in Egypt, actually led to U.S.-hating terrorists escaping from jail.
Meanwhile, extremists control much of Mali (another consequence of the Libya invasion) and U.S. officials suspect that soldiers under the control of Ali Abdullah Saleh, the former president of Yemen who relinquished power in a U.S.-Saudi deal, abandoned their posts and allowed hundreds of protesters to breach the walls and break through to the inner part of the U.S. embassy compound on September 12. U.S. officials used to think Saleh was their best bet against Yemeni extremism, but because of the Arab Spring protests against him, they eased him out.
Via Meadia is not yearning for the days when dictators ruled Libya and Yemen and Egypt. But the way things are going, the Arab Spring may look more like the French Revolution than the American: a violent and stormy transition from one era of dictatorial rule to another.