11.05.12 4:15 PM ET
What is Ansar al-Sharia, and What Did it Do in Benghazi?
The Daily Beast's Eli Lake continues his effort to provide clarity on the events of 9/11/12:
Unraveling Ansar al-Sharia, however, is one of the harder jobs today for U.S. intelligence analysts. The group itself has offered conflicting messages about its role in the Benghazi assault. On Sept. 12, a spokesman for the group said members of the organization participated in the attack, but also said it wasn’t sanctioned by the group’s leadership. In an interview from Sept. 18 with the BBC, Mohammad Ali al-Zahawi, the leader of Ansar al-Sharia in Benghazi, said his group was not involved in the attack. Then in mid-October, Ahmed Abu Khattala, a leader of an Islamist brigade affiliated at times with Ansar al-Sharia, said he was at the scene of the attack, though he denied participating in it.