Rep. Michael Grimm, R-N.Y., is among the lawmakers who don't buy a New York Times report
over the weekend that the attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, was a spontaneous act fueled by anger over an anti-Muslim YouTube video.
The former Marine and FBI agent says the attack that left U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans dead was without a doubt a military operation, and anyone with a military background could recognize it as such.
"This was a methodical, military attack. This was not some group of individuals that was upset," Grimm said Monday on CNN's "The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer."
"These were trained individuals. This was a military op."
The attackers were weaponized, trained, and methodical, Grimm told CNN. If a YouTube video had gotten ordinary citizens upset, they might have thrown Molotov cocktails or rocks, he said. Someone might have even had a firearm or an AK-47, he said, but there would not have been the same amount of weaponry as the attackers had.
The Times story also concluded that al-Qaida, the terrorist group responsible for the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the United States, was not involved in the Benghazi attack, which occurred on Sept. 11, 2012, the 11th anniversary.
"The New York Times is wrong," Grimm said. "And I would not say that's a Republican point of view. For me, this is apolitical."
Both Republicans and Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee who have been briefed on Benghazi have "tangible evidence, empirical data" that show the attacks had al-Qaida ties, he said.
"If al-Qaida is funding an offshoot, an affiliate, to carry out a terrorist act, then they're a terror proxy for al-Qaida" even if they call themselves by another name, Grimm said.
Al-Qaida, he said, has "morphed" since the 9/11 attacks and now funds other groups that can act in its stead. He said he has seen secret intelligence documents that tie al-Qaida to the attacks, even if somewhat tenuously, but said he cannot divulge publicly what those documents say.
Grimm said the Times report may spur further investigation, especially because the United States should get to the bottom of how security was handled in Benghazi. Unless such threats are recognized, he said, the lives of innocent Americans are placed at risk and the country appears weaker in the eyes of terrorists.
He said the United States was right to offer security help to Russia
in light of two bombings linked to the coming Winter Olympics in Sochi.
But the United States could lack authority on the world stage, he said, unless it can honestly discuss its own security breaches in places such as Benghazi.
"For Russia to be able to rely on us and to work with us, there has to be an underlying understanding that we come to the table openly and honestly about security," he said.
Still, the United States should not have second thoughts about attending the games, Grimm said.
"When we stop doing things like the Olympics, then they've won. We can't allow that to happen," Grimm told CNN. "We can't live in a state of terror or panic. But you do have to take the appropriate precautions."
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