The Sept. 11 terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi signals American weakness in the Middle East, according to al-Qaida’s leader Ayman al-Zawahiri.
“They were defeated in Iraq and they are withdrawing from Afghanistan, and their ambassador in Benghazi was killed and the flags of their embassies were lowered in Cairo and Sana’a, and in their places were raised the flags of tawhid [monotheism] and jihad,” Zawahiri said in an audio address.
Zawahiri directed his address to Shabaab, al Qaida’s affiliate in Somalia. He credited al-Qaida for three attacks on U.S. embassies, according to a published translation of the message.
“Their awe is lost and their might is gone and they don’t dare to carry out a new campaign like their past ones in Iraq and Afghanistan,” said Zawahiri.
The Obama administration has been criticized for their response to the massacre of Ambassador Chris Stevens and 3 other diplomats. The administration is also facing questions about the response to security warnings leading up to the attack.
Both the House Intelligence Committee and the Senate Intelligence Committee are planning to hold closed, separate hearings on the attack on Nov. 15. CIA Director David Petraeus, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, and Matt Olsen, director of the National Counterterrorism Center, are expected to testify.
In testimony on Capitol Hill on Sept. 20, Olsen became the first Obama administration official to explicitly acknowledge the Benghazi attack was terrorism.