U.S. of­fi­cials: 3 na­tions hin­der­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion

Few ar­rests made in fa­tal Sept. 11 at­tack on com­pound in Beng­hazi, Libya.

Austin American-Statesman - - THE SECOND FRONT - By Kim­berly Dozier as­so­ci­ated press

WAshIngTOn — U.S. coun­tert­er­ror­ism of­fi­cials told law­mak­ers Thurs­day that law en­force­ment in Libya, Egypt and Tu­nisia has been un­co­op­er­a­tive or less-than-ca­pa­ble and is slow­ing the search for sus­pects in the death of the U.S. am­bas­sador and three other Amer­i­cans in Libya on Sept. 11.

Au­thor­i­ties in the re­gion have not yet ar­rested many of the sus­pects the U.S. wants to ques­tion in the vi­o­lent at­tack on the Amer­i­can com­pound in Beng­hazi, ac­cord­ing to two U.S. of­fi­cials briefed on a pri­vate House In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee hear­ing Thurs­day, where coun­tert­er­ror­ism, in­tel­li­gence and law en­force­ment chiefs dis­closed the in­for­ma­tion to law­mak­ers.

The U.S. of­fi­cials, who spoke on the con­di­tion of anonymity, said Egypt has ar­rested Egyp­tian Is­lamic Ji­had mem­ber Muham­mad Ja­mal Abu Ah­mad for pos­si­ble links to the at­tack, but key alQaida per­son­nel re­main free. They added that U.S. re­quests to go af­ter the sus­pects uni­lat­er­ally also have been re­buffed.

The of­fi­cials said that Thurs­day’s hear­ing was in­tended to re-fo­cus law­mak­ers’ dis­cus­sions on find­ing those who car­ried out the at­tack. Un­til now, dis­cus­sions had largely fo­cused on how the White House de­scribed the at­tack in its af­ter­math and whether U.N. Am­bas­sador Su­san Rice played down al-Qaida’s pos­si­ble role by blam­ing it on an an­gry mob.

The hear­ing comes a week be­fore Sec­re­tary of State Hil­lary Clin­ton briefs law­mak­ers on an in­de­pen­dent re­view of the at­tack by an accountability re­view board, led by re­tired Am­bas­sador Thomas Pick­er­ing. Of­fi­cials ex­pect that the re­view will fo­cus on se­cu­rity as­sess­ments done of the con­sulate be­fore the at­tack, as well as the ac­tions of the diplo­matic se­cu­rity agents dur­ing it.

Three U.S. of­fi­cials say the se­cu­rity team did not fire a sin­gle shot, as a crowd of mil­i­tants and loot­ers over­whelmed the com­pounds of the lo­cal Libyan se­cu­rity team.

The State De­part­ment agents lost track of U.S. Am­bas­sador Chris Stevens dur­ing the in­ci­dent, in the heavy smoke af­ter the mil­i­tants set fire to the build­ing. Stevens was over­come by smoke and was later car­ried out of the dam­aged build­ing by Libyans who took him to a lo­cal hospi­tal where he ap­par­ently died from smoke in­hala­tion.

U.S. in­tel­li­gence has blamed the at­tack on mil­i­tants from a num­ber of dif­fer­ent groups. Libyan of­fi­cials could not be reached for com­ment.

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