By Kenneth R. Timmerman
August 25, 2020
US intelligence agencies are sitting on a treasure trove of documents that detail Iran’s direct, material involvement in the Sept. 11, 2012, attacks in Benghazi, Libya, that cost the lives of four Americans. But until now, deep state bureaucrats have buried them under layers of classification, often without reason.
From CIA officers, military contractors, and sources within US Special Forces, I have learned of the existence of at least 50 briefing documents that warned of Iranian intelligence operations in Benghazi. Some specifically predicted an Iranian attack on US diplomats and US facilities. Those documents have remained inaccessible, including to the Select Committee on Benghazi chaired by former US Representative Trey Gowdy.
The CIA, the NSA, and Joint Special Forces Operations Command operatives in Benghazi and in Tripoli were actively monitoring Iranian operations in Benghazi in the months leading up to the attacks. Indeed, according to a private military contractor who contacted me from Benghazi in February 2011, Quds Force operatives were openly walking the streets of Benghazi in the early days of the anti-Gaddafi uprising. At the time, their presence was an open secret.
By the summer of 2012, US intelligence and security officers in Benghazi and Tripoli warned their chain of command — including Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens — that the Iranians were preparing a terrorist attack on the US compound in Benghazi. These increased Iranian preparations prompted the head of security for Stevens, Green Beret Colonel Andy Wood, to send a cable to his commanding officer in June 2012 that the Iranian-backed militia — Ansar al Sharia — had received their funding from Iran and were now sending their wives and children to Benghazi, as I reported in these pages previously.
Until now, the government has released just a handful of heavily redacted documents relating to Iran’s Benghazi operations. Throughout the Obama administration, officials with knowledge of the Quds Force presence in Benghazi, including security contractors who defended the CIA Annex in a 13-hour battle with the jihadis, were repeatedly threatened with prosecution if they revealed what they knew. Among them was the then-director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, Gen. Michael Flynn.
But financial documents provided by an Iranian source, and thus not subject to US classification efforts, shed significant new light on the extent of Iranian government involvement in the attacks.
The documents, which include a wire transfer for 1.9 million euros from a known Quds Force money-laundering operation in Malaysia, have never before been made public. Only recently did the Iranian source give me permission to release the documents, which clearly show how Iran used the international financial system to funnel money to its Benghazi operations.
The person the Iranians put in charge of recruiting, training and equipping the Ansar al Sharia jihadi militia was a Lebanese man named Khalil Harb. He was a senior Hezbollah operative, well-known to Western intelligence agencies. Not long after the Benghazi attacks, the State Department issued a $5 million reward for information leading to his capture — not because of his role in Benghazi, but for what seemed like plain vanilla terrorist operations in Lebanon.
For the State Department under Hillary Clinton or John Kerry to admit that this Iranian operative was involved in the Benghazi attacks would have blown the lid off their extraordinary cover-up of Iran’s deadly schemes, which is continued today by deep state operatives who have stonewalled multiple Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to release the Iran Benghazi documents.
Early on, Harb set out to identify and recruit Libyan jihadis. My Iranian source says that a courier arrived in Benghazi carrying the equivalent of $8 million to $10 million in 500 Euro notes around three weeks before the attacks. The money came from Quds Force accounts in Malaysia at the First Islamic Investment Bank, an IRGC front proudly operated by Babak Zanjani, a 41-year-old billionaire who called himself a “financial bassiji” [militiaman].
In interviews with Iranian and Western reporters, Zanjani boasted that he was laundering oil money for the regime so they could slip the noose of international financial sanctions. He claimed to be worth $13.5 billion, and bragged that he was blending Iranian oil on the high seas with oil from Iraq and the UAE and then selling it as non-Iran origin.
He told one interviewer that the United States had accused him of 272 money-laundering violations, as if that were a badge of honor, and that some $2 billion in cash from regime oil sales he had brokered remained “stuck” abroad because of US sanctions. In late December 2013, the Iranian regime arrested him in an effort to repatriate the cash — and to silence him.
One of the key components of his Sorinet Group was a company operating out of Kuala Lumpur and Labuan, Malaysia, called International Safe Oil (ISO), which Zanjani used to disguise the origin of the Iranian oil he sold on international markets. His partner at ISO was another well-connected Iranian, Ali Reza Ziba Halat Monfared, whose brother was a deputy intelligence minister in Iran.
According to a former business partner of Monfared, who provided me with documents and a detailed readout of his involvement in the Quds Force operations in Benghazi, Monfared started moving Quds Force money into North Africa in 2009 under the guise of a “tourism” investment in Morocco. Monfared also had a working relationship with Khalil Harb, who visited him in Malaysia before the Benghazi operations to learn how to move money discretely.
When Monfared and Zanjani’s Quds Force network began moving money into Benghazi in 2011, they used the international banking system and brazenly disguised the payments as real-1estate investments — at the peak of the anti-Gaddafi uprising when much of the country was in ruins!
A wire confirmation for 1.9 million Euros, dated August 14, 2011, shows exactly how the network operated.
The money originated from Zanjani’s First Islamic Investment Bank in Labuan, Malaysia, which the United States Treasury designated on April 11, 2013, as an Iranian government money-launderer.
From Malaysia, the money transited via the Banque Intercontinentale Arabe in Paris, under the watchful eyes of an associate of Zanjani and Monfared. The ultimate receiver was a construction company in Benghazi with an account at the Benghazi branch of the Alejma’a AlArabi Bank.
The swift wire transfer indicates that the money was tied to a specific contract number and could have been used, for example, to construct barracks for Khalil Harb’s new recruits.
As operational plans for the Benghazi attacks accelerated during the summer of 2012, Iran dispatched a senior Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps officer, Maj. Gen. Mehdi Rabbani, to Benghazi under cover of an Islamic Red Crescent medical team, as I revealed in my 2014 book, “Dark Forces: The Truth About What Happened in Benghazi.” They also began using physical couriers to transfer money to the operational teams on the ground.
A US Africa Command (AFRICOM) briefing slide from the summer of 2012 shows money and weapons flowing from Iran into Egypt and Libya, but it and other AFRICOM documents relating to Iran’s presence in Benghazi have consistently been denied to journalists and outside groups such as Judicial Watch through the FOIA process.
The evidence now suggests that the Benghazi attacks were acts of state-sponsored terrorism against America ordered by the highest authorities of the Islamic Republic of Iran, financed by the sale of Iranian oil, and involving multiple agencies of the Iranian government as well as banking and commercial entities in Malaysia, France and Libya.
The new Director of National Intelligence, former Congressman John Ratcliffe, has a well-earned reputation for truth-telling and the right of the public to know the truth behind political cover-ups.
Intelligence officials have been covering up Iran’s involvement in Benghazi from the get-go. Director Ratcliffe: Release the Iran-Benghazi files.
New York Post