"U.S. officials" tell the Washington Post that Abu Sufian bin Qumu, a Libyan jihadi leader held as an enemy combatant at Guantanamo Bay after the 9/11 attacks, assisted in the attack on an American consulate in Benghazi that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other U.S. citizens.
Qumu—who runs an Islamic militia several hours outside Benghazi—reportedly trained and lived with Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda operatives in the 90s before fighting the U.S. in Afghanistan after the 2001 invasion. He was caught in Pakistan and sent to Gitmo, where he was known as Prisoner 557.
Qumu had a personality disorder, untreated tuberculosis, and "a long-term association with Islamic extremist jihad and members of Al Qaeda," according to leaked military records. Even as authorities pondered his release from Gitmo, the military dossier on Qumu had called him "a MEDIUM to HIGH risk, as he is likely to pose a threat to the U.S., its interests and allies." He left Cuba and was placed in Libyan custody in 2007.
That would be a year after the Bush administration brought Libya "in from the cold" and restored diplomatic relations between the countries, citing Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi's renunciation of terrorism. The following year, Gaddafi turned him out on the streets, the Post says. Three years later, as he prepared to shell resistance fighters in the heavily populated city of Benghazi, Gaddafi was ousted and killed with help from a U.S.-led bombing campaign.
Qumu's release raises serious questions about how the Bush administration—which styled itself as a bulwark against terrorists, making no apologies for its detention of suspects at Gitmo and its use of torturous interrogation techniques—picked its enemies and allies in the "war on terror," using the U.S. military machine to overthrow Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein while entrusting Al Qaeda suspects to Gaddafi.
The whole Benghazi mess is "complicated," an unnamed current "senior administration official" told the Post: "We will never be able to know what motivated everyone involved in this attack."
[Photo credit: AP]