National Counterterrorism Center director Matthew Olsen testifies before the Senate Homeland Security Committee that the assault was a “terrorist attack” but goes on to call it an “opportunistic” attack in which armed militants took advantage of an ongoing protest. Olsen said1:
It appears that individuals who were certainly well armed seized on the opportunity presented as the events unfolded that evening and into the morning of September 12. We do know that a number of militants in [the] area, as I mentioned, are well armed and maintain those arms. What ”’we don’t have at this point is specific intelligence that there was a significant advanced planning or coordination for this attack.
Sen. Susan Collins, the Republican vice chairman of the panel from Maine, is convinced the incident was a premeditated, pre-planned attack tied to the anniversary of the September 11, 2001, al Qaeda attacks on the United States.
The attack in Benghazi was not a black swan, but rather an attack that should have been anticipated based on previous attacks against western targets, the proliferation of dangerous weapons, the presence of al Qaeda in that country and the overall threat environment,” Collins said. “I just don’t think that people come to protest equipped with RPGs (rocket propelled grenades) and other heavy weapons.
Committee Chairman Joseph Lieberman, a Connecticut Independent, said he tended to agree with Collins, but would wait for the investigation to conclude.
- CNN – Intel official: Libya attack was terror act, but not planned in advance http://security.blogs.cnn.com/2012/09/19/no-evidence-deadly-libya-attack-planned-u-s-official/ ↩