The terrorists who attacked the U.S. compound and CIA annex in Benghazi on September 11, 2012, took cellphones from State Department personnel during the deadly assault and contacted senior terrorist leaders about the success of the operation — and U.S. spy agencies overheard the conversations, Fox News reports.
Eric Stahl, who recently retired as a major in the U.S. Air Force, told Fox News that members of a CIA-trained Global Response Staff were “confused” by the Obama administration’s repeated claim that an anti-Muslim video sparked the terrorist attack because “they knew during the attack…who was doing the attacking.”
“Right after they left the consulate in Benghazi and went to the [CIA] safehouse, they were getting reports that cellphones, consulate cellphones, were being used to make calls to the attackers’ higher ups,” Stahl told Bret Baier.
The new report, which cites multiple sources, raises fresh questions regarding why the White House made the claim about the video even though it appears senior administration officials knew during the attack that terrorists were responsible.
Another U.S. official with “intimate details” of the Benghazi attack reportedly confirmed Stahl’s account. The source also said security teams received intelligence about the cellphone calls in real time.
More from the Fox News report:
Eric Stahl, who recently retired as a major in the U.S. Air Force, served as commander and pilot of the C-17 aircraft that was used to transport the corpses of the four casualties from the Benghazi attacks – then-U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens, information officer Sean Smith, and former Navy SEALs Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods – as well as the assault’s survivors from Tripoli to the safety of an American military base in Ramstein, Germany.
Major Stahl was never interviewed by the Accountability Review Board, the investigative panel convened, pursuant to statute, by then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, as the official body reviewing all the circumstances surrounding the attacks and their aftermath. Many lawmakers and independent experts have criticized the thoroughness of the ARB, which also never interviewed Clinton nor the under secretary of State for management, Patrick Kennedy, a key figure in the decisions about security at the consulate in the period preceding the attack there.
In his interview on “Special Report,” Stahl made still other disclosures that add to the vast body of literature on Benghazi – sure to grow in the months ahead, as a select House committee prepares for a comprehensive probe of the affair, complete with subpoena power. Stahl said that when he deposited the traumatized passengers at Ramstein, the first individual to question the CIA security officers was not an FBI officer but by the senior State Department diplomat on the ground.
Stahl also said his crew could have traveled to Benghazi to potentially save the victims during the attack and transport them safely to Germany.
“We were on a 45-day deployment to Ramstein air base. And we were there basically to pick up priority missions, last-minute missions that needed to be accomplished,” he said, adding that it would have taken the team an “hour-and-a-half to get on the ground and three hours and fifteen minutes to get down there.”
“So we could’ve gone down there and gotten them easily,” he added.
Stahl also argued the U.S. military should have had a “little bit more of an alert posture on 9/11.”
Read the full report here.