The Washington Post reports that U.S. officials suspect Sufian Ben Qumu, an ex-Guantanamo detainee, “played a role in the attack on the American compound in Benghazi, Libya, and are planning to designate the group he leads as a foreign terrorism organization.” Ben Qumu is based in Derna, Libya and runs a branch of Ansar al Sharia headquartered in the city.
U.S. officials have found that some of Ben Qumu’s militiamen from Derna “participated in the attack” and “were in Benghazi before the attack took place on Sept. 11, 2012.”
Ben Qumu is one of the original “Arab Afghans” who traveled to Afghanistan to fight the Soviets in the 1980s. In the years that followed the end of the anti-Soviet jihad, Ben Qumu followed al Qaeda to the Sudan and then, in the mid-to-late 1990s, back to Afghanistan and Pakistan. He was eventually arrested in Pakistan after the 9/11 attacks and transferred to the American detention facility at Guantánamo Bay. Qumu is described as an associate of Osama bin Laden.
The reporting on Ben Qumu’s ties to the attack directly refutes an account by David Kirkpatrick of the New York Times. Kirkpatrick reported that “neither Mr. Qumu nor anyone else in Derna appears to have played a significant role in the attack on the American Mission, officials briefed on the investigation and the intelligence said.”