The February 17th Martyrs Brigade, a Benghazi-based militia with Islamist elements that the State Department hired as a “quick reaction force” (QRF) to protect the department’s mission in Benghazi, warned the State Department that it would not protect the movements of Amb. Chris Stevens when he visited there last September.
That warning was relayed to the regional security officer (RSO) at the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli--the top security adviser to the ambassador--in an internal State Department email dated Sept. 9, 2012.
That was one day before Stevens departed Tripoli for Benghazi--for what was scheduled to be a five-day visit.
“[O]n September 8, 2012, just days before Ambassador Stevens arrived in Benghazi, the February 17 Martyrs Brigade told State Department officials that the group would no longer support U.S. movements in the city, including the Ambassador’s visit,” said a report on Benghazi released last week by the chairmen of the House Foreign Affairs, Intelligence, Oversight, Judiciary and Armed Services committees.
In a footnote, the report attributed this information to an “Email from Alec Henderson to John B. Martinec, ‘RE: Benghazi QRF agreement,’ (Sep. 9, 2012 11:31 PM).”
The fact that the militia gave the State Department prior warning that it would not support the ambassador’s movements in Benghazi raises new questions about the way the department handled security in Benghazi and its subsequent unwillingness to make department personnel available to congressional committees that are investigating the Sept. 11, 2012 terrorist attack.
The State Department’s Accountability Review Board (ARB) report, released on Dec. 18, had revealed that the February 17 militia was no longer protecting the movement of U.S. vehicles in Benghazi at the time of Stevens’ September visit to the city. But it did not say that this information had been delivered to the regional security officer in Tripoli the day before Stevens traveled to Benghazi.