After a week of testimony in Congress about the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya last September, Kentucky U.S. Senator Rand Paul suggested that the facility might have been an outpost for running guns to Syria. The attack killed U.S. ambassador to Libya J. Christopher Stevens and three others on September 11, 2012.
“I never have quite understood the cover-up – if it was intentional or incompetence. But something went on. I mean, they had talking points that they were trying to make it about a movie when everybody seemed to be on the ground telling them it had nothing to do with a movie. I don’t know if this was for political reasons.
“I’ve always actually suspected, although I have no evidence, that maybe we were facilitating arms leaving Libya, going through Turkey into Syria. In the week preceding this, the New York Times has reported that there was a Turkish ship taking Libyan arms and giving them to Syrians. . . . Were they trying to obscure that there was an arms operation going on at the CIA annex?”
Before he became the U.S ambassador to Libya, Stevens was the deputy chief of mission as well as a special representative to the National Transition Council. When he arrived in Libya as this special representative in early 2011, it was as a liaison to Abdelhakim Belhadj of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group. By November 2011, Belhadj was meeting with Free Syrian Army officials in Turkey about providing troops and arms to Syria to train rebels fighting the government of President Bashar al-Assad.
Later, a Times of London story, perhaps the one Paul had in mind, reported a Libyan ship carrying weapons arrived in Syria via Benghazi shortly before Stevens’ death.
As Businessinsider.com summarized it: “Ambassador Stevens had only one person – Belhadj – between himself and the Benghazi man who brought heavy weapons to Syria.”
To date, the Obama administration has refused to directly arm the Syrian rebels, which include terrorist-designated Jabhat al-Nusra. However, if it is true that Benghazi was a point for shipping weapons to Syria, it may invoke memories of Iran-Contra, a scandal in which President Reagan admitted to selling weapons to Iran.
The charge that America’s Benghazi base was an outpost for covertly moving arms into Syria is only speculation. As an aspect of the incident that has received little coverage, it also remains to be seen whether investigation into this charge will be pursued.