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Continued: APNewsBreak: Newly released testimony suggests different attackers in 2 Benghazi assaults

  • Article by: DONNA CASSATA , Associated Press
  • Last update: July 9, 2014 - 7:01 PM

The Justice Department maintains in court documents that Abu Khattala was involved in both attacks, and it describes the first breach on the diplomatic post as equally sophisticated. The government said a group of about 20 men, armed with AK-47- rifles, handguns and rocket-propelled grenade launchers, stormed the diplomatic facility in the first attack.

Abu Khattala supervised the looting after Americans fled, the government says, and then returned to the camp of the Islamist militant group Ansar al-Sharia, where the Justice Department says a large force began assembling for the second attack.

The Justice Department provided no supporting documentation for those conclusions. They also reflect the divisions among current and former government officials about the two attacks.

In her book "Hard Choices," former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton wrote that there were scores of attackers with different motives. "It is inaccurate to state that every single one of them was influenced by this hateful video. It is equally inaccurate to state that none of them were. Both assertions defy not only the evidence but logic as well."

Abu Khattala's lawyer says the government has failed to show that he was connected to either attack.

Ham, who happened to be in Washington that week, briefed Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey. They informed the president.

Many of the military officials said they didn't even know about the diplomatic mission in Benghazi, let alone the CIA's clandestine installation nearby. Few knew of Stevens visiting the city that day. Given all of the confusion, Ham said there was one thing he clearly would have done differently: "Advise the ambassador to not go to Benghazi."

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