Washington: The attack on the US Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, could have been aimed at driving the US and western presence, and particularly a growing CIA contingent, out of eastern Libya, two military sources said.
The September 11 attack was preceded by hundreds of security incidents in Libya over the past year. Several of them involved western targets in Benghazi, which could indicate a pattern.
According to Fox News, the attack on the US Consulate on June 6 with an improvised explosive device was described as a probing attack to measure the response.
This incident, coupled with attacks on the International Red Cross and an RPG attack on the British ambassador’s convoy, after which the British withdrew, suggest a pattern to drive western authority from the region, the report said.
Further, the attack fits with a broader effort by the al Qaeda affiliate and the militant group Ansar al-Sharia to establish an Islamic state in eastern Libya, it added.
According to the report, those militants are also capitalizing on the proliferation of weapons, including portable surface-to-air missiles called MANPADS, since the Qaddafi regime fell.
Former CIA Director Porter Goss said that the belief that militants were trying to throw the western forces and diplomats from the region ‘is a very accurate assessment’.
He said that they likely “are trying to create more sanctuary areas by pushing us out -- our diplomats, our military”, the report added.