Chairman of the American military’s Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey
A top US military commander has revealed that the American military has drawn up a list of al-Qaeda-linked “high-value individuals” in North Africa as possible targets of assassination or capture by US forces.
Chairman of the American military’s Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey declared during a US Senate hearing on Thursday regarding protests and attacks against its diplomatic post last year in Benghazi, Libya that US forces have designated “a handful of high-value individuals” in North Africa due to their “connections to al-Qaeda,” making them potential targets of capture or Obama administration’s targeted-killing operations, The Washington Post
reports on Friday.
Gen. Dempsey further reiterated that the Pentagon’s “target list” does not include any of the suspects cited by US authorities in the Benghazi incident “to this point,” noting that “although we work with other agencies to try to build the intelligence case to do so.”
During the hearing, Dempsey and US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta were harshly chided by Republican member of the Senate committee for not having better contingency plans for a quicker response to the Benghazi incident, during which the US ambassador to Libya and three CIA operatives were killed by unknown individuals following a massive anti-American rally to protest the release of a US-made anti-Islamic film.
Republican Senator from Georgia Saxby Chambliss blamed Dempsey for “a very weak response and reaction to this incident.”
“You knew what was happening in Benghazi. You failed to respond in a way that provided security to that particular United States mission complex,” Chambliss insisted.
Dempsey reiterated in response that Benghazi was not the only place where American diplomatic staff was facing “threats” by protesters and that US embassies in other countries such as Yemen, Tunisia, Egypt and Sudan were also faced with anti-American protest rallies. He further pointed out that the State Department had not specifically asked the US military to provide additional security in Benghazi.
Moreover, Panetta told the members of the Senate Committee that it would have taken nine to 12 hours for US warplanes or assassination drones to reach Libya, which would be too late to stage a “counterattack” on those that killed the four Americans. The Pentagon chief further insisted that even if US war aircraft could have made it to Libya on time, the military did not possess adequate information to figure out what was happening on the ground.
“You can’t just willy-nilly send F-16s there and blow the hell out of a place without knowing what’s taking place. You can’t send AC-130s there and blow the hell out of a target without knowing what’s taking place. You’ve got to be able to have good information,” Panetta said.
Panetta’s remarks come as US assassination drones have ‘blown the hell’ out of populated locations in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, reportedly killing thousands of civilians in their targeted-killing missions.