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2012 Benghazi Attack

Attack on CIA annex

11 Sep, 2012

Around 5:15 a.m. gunfire erupted, followed by explosions from falling mortar rounds. The attackers had lain in wait, silently observing as the rescuers arrived in a large convoy. This second attack was shorter in duration than the first, but more complex and sophisticated. The attack lasts until 5:26 a.m.1

At least one member of the team was on the roof of the annex manning a heavy machine gun when five mortars were fired at the CIA Annex. According to Fox News, the security officer had a laser on the target that was firing and repeatedly requested back-up support from a Spectre gunship, which is commonly used by U.S. Special Operations forces to provide support to Special Operations teams on the ground involved in intense firefights.2  However the CIA report says that the laser was only focused on several attackers, as warnings not to fire, and there was no Specter Gunship in the area.3

According to Fox News, the team’s guns were fitted with PEQ-15 lasers. The “passive” laser is not visible to the naked eye but can help team members identify hostile forces when the shooter is wearing NODS, or Night Observation Device attached to their helmet. The visible laser system places a red dot on the attacker and warns the attacker not to shoot, encouraging them to flee the scene. The Annex team also had Ground Laser Designators, or GLD. a device that emits code and signal when there is overhead air support such as drones or other aircraft.4

Also according to a Fox News source on the ground at the time of the attack, the team inside the CIA annex had captured three Libyan attackers and was forced to hand them over to the Libyans. U.S. officials do not know what happened to those three attackers and whether they were released by the Libyan forces.5

There is some confusion about the location of Woods and Doherty. According to the CIA, Woods and Doherty were killed on the roof of the compound where Doherty had joined woods in firing positions. However, a Fox News report said that Woods and Doherty were killed just outside the villa’s front gate by a mortar round that struck the roof of the building where the Americans had scrambled for cover.

“It was really accurate,” Fathi al-Obeidi, commander of special operations for a militia called Libyan Shield, who was there that night, said of the mortar fire. “The people who were shooting at us knew what they were doing.” They also escaped, apparently uninjured.6

FACT CHECK: Did the Navy Seals who died in the Benghazi attack kill 60 jihadis – FALSE (link coming soon)

One agent involved in the attack from the beginning is severely wounded. The men decide to evacuate the city entirely. They spend the next hours securing the annex and moving a large convoy of vehicles to the airport.

At 6 a.m. Libyan forces from the military intelligence service arrive with 50 vehicles. They escort the Americans to the airport. A first group of 18, including two wounded, depart at 7 a.m. A second group of 12, plus the four dead, leave at 10 a.m. for Tripoli and then back to America.7

Fox News reports that from the time of the initial retreat to the CIA Annex to the evacuation was over four hours — enough time for any planes based in Sigonella Air base, just 480 miles away, to arrive. Fox News also learned that two separate Tier One Special operations forces were told to wait, among them Delta Force operators.8

  1. New York Times – After Attack in Libya, an Ambush Struck Rescuers
  2. Fox News – CIA operators were denied request for help during Benghazi attack, sources say
  3. CIA Timeline
  4. Fox News – What laser capability did Benghazi team have?
  5. Fox News – CIA operators were denied request for help during Benghazi attack, sources say
  6. New York Times – After Attack in Libya, an Ambush Struck Rescuers
  7. CIA Timeline
  8. New York Times – After Attack in Libya, an Ambush Struck Rescuers