RT has received emails that are alleged to have been sent from a one-time White House aide to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
A hacker using the alias “Guccifer” was credited last week with compromising the AOL email account of Sidney Blumenthal, a 64-year-old journalist who formerly worked as an assistant to then-President Bill Clinton. Now days after the security breach was first reported, Guccifer has supplied RT and a number of other media outlets and political figures with incredibly sensitive memos that were emailed to Mr. Clinton’s wife, Hillary, in the wake of last year’s terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya.
The emails that RT received include four memos that Mr. Blumenthal sent to Mrs. Clinton about the attack, all marked “Confidential” and all containing references to sources speaking on condition of anonymity due to the sheer seriousness of the material. The most recent memo included in the trove is dated February 16, 2013, and includes intelligence that comes “from extremely sensitive sources and should be handled with care.”
The oldest memo sent to RT is dated September 12, 2012 — mere hours after four Americans were killed in a deadly assault on the US consulate building in Benghazi. Chris Stevens, an ambassador for the United States, was among those killed.
At the time of the attack, Mrs. Clinton was serving her final few weeks as secretary of state under President Barack Obama, a position that she relinquished earlier this year to former-Senator John Kerry. Her knowledge of the Benghazi attack has become a frequent matter of dispute, however, since information relayed to the public in the immediate aftermath of the assault frequently contradicted other intelligence.
Initially, many high-up US sources said the storming of the consulate was in response to an anti-Islamic film that had been made in America and uploaded to the website YouTube. In the days after the assault, however, members of the US intelligence community offered a different explanation, saying the attack was not a spontaneous outburst prompted by the viral video clip but were instead a coordinated terrorist attack launched by associates of al-Qaeda.
According to the Blumenthal memos, though, even the US secretary of state was being fed disinformation directly after the attack. In the email dated Sept. 12, Sec. Clinton is told that the anti-Islamic film was likely the catalyst for the assault.
“A senior security officer told [interim Libyan President Mohammed Yussef] el Magariaf that the attacks on that day were inspired by what many devout Libyans viewed as a sacrilegious internet video on the prophet Mohammed originating in America,” the memo reads. “The Libya attacks were also inspired by and linked to an attack on the US mission in Egypt on the same day.”
Elsewhere in the first memo, Blumenthal tells Clinton that another source had even more to say about the assault:
“According to a separate sensitive source, el Magariaf noted that his opponents had often tried to connect him to the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) through the National Front for the Salvation of Libya (NFSL), a group established in opposition to former dictator Muammar al-Gaddafi, which el Magariaf led in the 1980s. In the opinion of this individual el Magariaf believes that he can survive potential negative publicity in this regard, but if this situation continues to develop in this manner it will complicate his efforts to establish an orderly administration in the country. Again, he stated that the attacks on the US missions were as much a result of the atmosphere created by this campaign, as the controversial video.”
Later on, “a very sensitive source” is cited as saying that the Libyan president’s enemies are likely“working to take advantage of his suspected links to the CIA at a time when Western intelligence services are under scrutiny in Libya.”
Five months later, though, another memo sent to Mrs. Clinton painted a much different picture of what was happening abroad. An email dated Feb. 16, 2013 contains the subject line “Algeria/Libya/Terrorism” and touches on possible connections between the Benghazi assault and the January 2013 hostage crisis in In Amenas, Algeria near the Libyan border. In that dispatch, links are drawn between both major incidents.
“Speaking on condition of absolute secrecy,” an individual with sensitive access status spoke out on the attacks in a memo that was given to Blumenthal, sent to Clinton and eventually intercepted by Guccifer. According to that source’s claims, Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika “instructed commanders of the Algerian external intelligence service (Direction Generale de la Sécurité Extérieure – DGSE) to provide Libyan intelligence chief, General Salim Hassi, with selected portions of the information obtained in the investigation of the terrorist attack on the facility at In Amenas.”
The source goes on to say that Algeria’s Pres. Bouteflika asked the DGSE officers to pass along sensitive information obtained from the interrogation of known and suspected supporters of the terrorist group Mokhtar Belmokhtar, or MBM, which would later all but confirm that al-Qaeda affiliates were involved in both attacks.
“According to a knowledgeable individual, the commanders of the Algerian DGSE reported to Bouteflika’s staff that their work confirmed their initial suspicion that the MBM attack on In Amenas was related to French military operations in Mali, as part of a loose but growing coalition of Islamist groups, the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (MUJWA), which was formed in mid-2012 with funding and support from al-Qaeda in the Islamic Mahgred (AQUM).”
“In the opinion of these individuals, MBM is a key member of this group and was best placed to strike at a Western facility in retaliation for the French operations in Mali. The Algerian officials also believe that Libya’s Ansar al Sharia,” a pro-Sharia law militant Islamic group, “plays a role in the umbrella organization.”
“The In Amenas attack allowed MBM to stage an operation to keep the Algerian government off balance,” the memo continues. “These officials also stated that while Algerian members of MBM had planned and led the attack, the guerrilla force included experienced fighters from Mali, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Somali and Egypt.”
From there, the source explains that the individual with top-secret intel on the operations were instructed to keep information received from the French DGSE confidential, but that the intel“concerned the funding of the MBM operations and a possible link to the Ansar al Sharia attack on the United States Consulate in Benghazi.”
“This individual adds that this information provided by the French service indicates that the funding for both attacks originated with wealthy Sunni Islamists in Saudi Arabia. During July and August 2012, these financers provided funds to AQIM contacts in Southern Europe, who in turn passed the money into AQIM operatives in Mauritania. These funds were eventually provided to Ansar al Sharia and its allied militias in the Benghazi region in support of their attack on the US consulate. The money was used to recruit operatives and purchase ammunition and supplies.”
After the September 2012 attack, the MBM used remaining funds to organize the In Amenas, Algeria attack, the source claims. If the “extremely sensitive source” is indeed in-the-know, though, the Algerian incident might not be the last major terrorist attack that will occur in the Maghreb anytime soon.
According to the Feb. 2016 memo, the source says that Algerian intelligence agency believe that al-Qaeda and their allies “will continue to strike at Western facilities in the Maghreb, taking advantage of countries where the security structure is disorganized following the uprisings of the Arab Spring in 2011-2012.”
Previously, the hackers known as Guccifer has been linked to breaching the Facebook account of Gen. Colin Powell, who served as secretary of state under George W. Bush, and members of the Bush dynasty as well. In the leaked memos disseminated to the media, Guccifer opted to copy-and-paste the correspondence into new files — images of bold Comic Sans text layered over a pink backgrounds — likely as a security precaution to cover his own tracks.
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