Benghazi

Revealed: Ringleader behind ‘al-Qaeda attack that killed U.S. ambassador was former Guantanamo inmate handed over to Libya by America’

  • Sufyan Ben Qumu was classified as a ‘medium  to high’ national security risk before his release from American  custody
  • Qumu reportedly was Osama bin Laden’s driver  and worked for the al-Qaeda founder’s company in Sudan
  • Libyans promised to keep him behind bars,  but he was released in 2010
  • Qumu was a former Libyan army tank driver  and became a leader of the rebels during the uprising

By Michael Zennie

PUBLISHED:17:42 EST, 19  September 2012| UPDATED:20:28 EST, 19 September 2012

Sufyan Ben QumuLeader: Sufyan Ben Qumu, who has known extremist ties,  became one of the top commanders of rebel forces in Benghazi

A former al-Qaeda terrorist released from  Guantanamo Bay is believed to be the leader of the attack on the US consulate in  Benghazi, Libya, that killed four Americans, including the US Ambassador, it was  revealed on Wednesday.

Sufyan Ben Qumu, who was reportedly once  Osama bin Laden’s driver, was let out of the US military detention center in  Cuba in 2007 and turned over to the government of Muammar Gaddafi on the  condition he be kept behind bars.

Now, Fox  Newsreports he may have led the  September 11 attack on the American  consulate that resulted in the death of  John Christopher Stevens — the  first US Ambassador killed by violence overseas  since 1979.

The US military characterized him as a  ‘medium to high’ risk to national  security while he was in US custody and he  refused to cooperate with  authorities and explain his past associations with  Islamic extremists.

Qumu, 53, is a Libyan army veteran  who was  jailed by Qaddafi and later escaped and moved to Sudan, where he worked  for one  of Osama bin Laden’s holding companies.

According to some reports, he was bin Laden’s  driver during his time at the company. However, he denies this.

Later, he moved to Pakistan and slipped  across the border into Afghanistan,  where he began working at a charity that  was a front for al-Qaeda in the summer of 2001.

He was arrested in Pakistan by local  authorities shortly after the US invasion of Afghanistan. He was taken  to the  Guantanamo Bay detention center and held there for six years.

Attack: Qumu was characterized by the US military as a 'medium to high' national security riskAttack: Qumu was characterized by the US military as a  ‘medium to high’ national security risk

Deadly: Four people died, including US Ambassador Christopher Stevens, during an assault on the US Consulate in Benghazi, LibyaDeadly: Four people died, including US Ambassador  Christopher Stevens, during an assault on the US Consulate in Benghazi,  Libya

Despite his lengthy association with  extremists, including the 9-11 mastermind and al-Qaeda leader himself, the  military recommended in a 2005 report sending him back to his home country of  Libya.

In 2007, Qumu was released from Gitmo and  turned over to Gaddafi on the condition that he be kept in prison.

But, in 2010 Gaddafi freed him from  the  notorious Abu Salim prison in Tripoli, along with 37 other  prisoners, to  celebrate the dictator’s 41st year in power.

During the uprising, Qumu emerged as a leader  of the rebels.

He was a tank driver during his time in the  Libyan army, though he had been arrested several times on drug and alcohol  offenses.

Tragic: John Christopher Stevens is the first US Ambassador to be killed by violence overseas since 1979. He apparently died of smoke inhalation after the attack on the consulate in Benghazi Tragic: John Christopher Stevens is the first US  Ambassador to be killed by violence overseas since 1979. He apparently died of  smoke inhalation after the attack on the consulate in Benghazi

Sean Smith was a foreign service computer expertGlen Doherty

Victims: Sean Smith (left), 34, was a foreign service  computer expert who had previously been posted to Baghdad. Glen Doherty, 42, was  a former US Navy SEAL who was working as a private security  contractor

The report came as a senior US official  called the assault on the American diplomatic outpost a ‘terrorist  attack.’

It was the first time the White House has  referred to the deadly incursion as terrorism and it undermines the US position  that it was  ‘spontaneous.’

‘Yes, they  were killed in the course of a  terrorist attack on our embassy,’  Director of the National Counterterrorism  Center Matt Olsen told a  Senate hearing on Wednesday.

Wrecked: The consulate was badly damaged in the attack that forced US personnel to fleeWrecked: The consulate was badly damaged in the attack  that forced US personnel to flee

 

Extremists: The Libyan government blamed the attack on Islamic extremists angry over the release of a trailer for an American anti-Islam movieExtremists: The Libyan government blamed the attack on  Islamic extremists angry over the release of a trailer for an American  anti-Islam movie

In addition to Mr Stevens, who friends said  devoted his life to promoting peace and cultural understanding, three other  Americans were killed when a mob attacked and burned the consulate in former  rebel stronghold city.

Sean Smith, a foreign service officer, was a  34-year-old father of two. Glen Doherty, 42, was a former US Navy SEAL who was  working at the consulate as a private security contractor.

The attack on the consulate came after the  release of a trailer for the controversial movie ‘The Innocence of Muslims,’  which paints a portrait of Islam that many in the Muslim world find deeply  offensive.

Destruction: The White House maintains that attack was the work of a mob of Islamic extremists, not organized terroristsDestruction: The White House maintains that attack was  the work of a mob of Islamic extremists, not organized terrorists

 

Protests: Unrest remains high in Libya after the release of 'The Innocence of Muslims'Protests: Unrest remains high in Libya after the release  of ‘The Innocence of Muslims’

The White House maintains that there was no  evidence the attack was preplanned by a terrorist group — rather, they say, it  appears to have been a spontaneous mob of Islamic extremists.

‘We are looking at indications that  individuals involved in the attack may have had connections to Al Qaeda or Al  Qaeda’s affiliates, in particular Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb,’ Mr Olsen  told the Senate.

However, he added, ‘the facts that we have  now indicate that this was an opportunistic attack on our embassy, the attack  began and evolved and escalated over several hours.’

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