Published September 19, 2012
Fox News has obtained a three-page intelligence report showing that two days before the deadly attack on the U.S. Consulate in Libya, a statement incited "sons of Egypt" to pressure America to release the so-called blind sheikh "even if it requires burning the embassy down with everyone in it."
The web statement, apparently posted on Sept. 9, was in reference to the embassy in Egypt. It preceded a throng of demonstrators breaching the U.S. Embassy wall in Cairo, supposedly in protest over an anti-Islam film. Obama administration officials claim that attackers in Libya then took their cue from Cairo and seized the opportunity to attack the consulate in Benghazi.
Though the administration's version of events is still evolving, the three-page Department of Homeland Security intelligence report further highlights potential threats that were being picked up before last week's attack.
The DHS report, released on Sept. 11, said an "unidentified user" on an Arabic-language forum posted the statement "inciting Egyptians to target the U.S. Embassy, indicating the U.S. Embassy shouldn't remain in Egypt" until Omar Abdel-Rahman, also known as the blind sheikh, is released. Abdel-Rahman, who played a role in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and other attacks, is serving a life sentence in U.S. prison.
The DHS document described the source of the warning as "fairly reliable."
The Sept. 9 statement said "the time has come for a strong movement from you, O sons of Egypt, to release the detained" sheikh. "Let your slogan be: No to the American Embassy in Egypt until our detained sheikh is released."
It continued: "Starting now, let the faithful among you form follow-up committees in charge of taking the necessary measures to force America to release the sheikh -- even if it requires burning the embassy down with everyone in it."
In addition to the threat over the sheikh, Reuters reported earlier this week that a U.S. cable on Sept. 10 warned the U.S. Embassy in Cairo of possible violence over the anti-Islam film.
Asked about that alleged warning, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney stressed Tuesday that everything is "under investigation in terms of what precipitated the attacks."
Meanwhile, lawmakers raised concern Wednesday that the Obama administration might actually be considering the sheikh's release. Several Republican chairmen of top House committees wrote a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton referencing a Breitbart.com report claiming the State Department was "actively negotiating" with Egypt's president about transferring the blind sheikh to Egyptian custody.
State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland denied the report.
"Let me say as clearly as I can there is no plan to release the blind sheikh, there is no plan. To my knowledge we have not been approached about it recently by any senior Egyptians," she said Wednesday.
But House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers, Homeland Security Committee Chairman Peter King and others wrote to Holder and Clinton saying they were "concerned" about the reports.
"If these reports are true, such considerations would be extremely disconcerting as release of this convicted terrorist should not happen for any reason," they wrote. "The blind sheikh inspired the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center, ordered the 1997 massacre of Western tourists at Luxor, Egypt, and issued the Islamic religious ruling that Osama bin Laden relied upon to justify the terror attacks of September 11, 2001. ...
"While considerations regarding the blind sheikh's release would be disturbing in any context, they are particularly alarming given recent events. The 11th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks was marked by the assassination of America's ambassador to Libya and an attack on the U.S. Embassy in Egypt. The violence in Egypt has been attributed, in part, to that government's demands for the blind sheikh's release. Succumbing to the demands of a country whose citizens threaten our embassy and the Americans serving in it would send a clear message that acts of violence will be responded to with appeasement rather than strength."
They urged the administration to keep Abdel-Rahman in the U.S., warning that releasing him would be seen as "a sign of weakness."
Fox News' Chad Pergram contributed to this report.