Assembling Intelligence on Benghazi Attack Suspects

Posted: 26th October 2012
Assembling Intelligence on Benghazi Attack Suspects

ere was anything publically reported to link al-Harzi to a blog post or some al-Qaeda affiliation. We searched Recorded Future for “Ali Ani al-Harzi” seeking anything published over the last 6 months that might reveal a connection. As you can see from the timeline below, we were unable to find any public reporting on him prior to October 14th.

12 Month Timeline of Activity for Ali Ani al-Harzi

Timeline of Ali Ani al-Harzi

Clearly events are centered around the last 30 days, and from our immediate research, it appears that al-Harzi did not have a digital signature in the public media prior to this recent reporting. This could mean al-Harzi purposely avoided any behavior that would give him such a profile. CNN did report that Aaron Zelin, a research fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy who tracks dozens of jihadist websites examined known Facebook and Twitter accounts of Ansar al-Sharia in Benghazi could not find any related posts just before or after the attacks. This does not necessary mean that a post was made under some other social media site from another account.

Next we decided to research Ansar al-Sharia given the latest news on recently released State Department emails that described this group as possibly being behind the attack. Again, our research does show al-Sharia had very little buzz on the public media sources outside of the recent time frame around the Benghazi Embassy attack.

12 Month Timeline of Activity for Ansar al-Sharia

Timeline of Ansar al-Sharia

Looking at how this organization is being viewed in the public domain, you can see the lead up to a very negative sentiment and heavy momentum (buzz and chatter) as they are blamed for the embassy attack in Benghazi. It is interesting to note that few events related to the group have garnered nearly as much momentum since the attack. There have been a few spikes of negative sentiment with the most recent being news of the State Department emails released by the media on October 24th.

Ansar al-Sharia Negative Sentiment and Buzz Substantially Increased

Sentiment and Buzz on Ansar al-Shari

In conclusion, what we do know is the attack on the Benghazi compound was pre-planned and well organized by a violent group. We have seen quite a bit of reporting on various al-Qaeda affiliates in the region and that continue to grow. As shown in the a network graph of relationships between Ansar al-Sharia and al-Qaeda.

Al-Qaeda and Ansar al-Sharia Organizational Affiliation

Qaeda and Ansar al-Sharia

We will continue to provide updates on this tragic event as new information is released.