The list of suspects in the Libya terror attack now extends to a handful of suspected militants aligned with an Egyptian group known as the Jamal Network, Fox News has learned.
A U.S. official said the Jamal Network is committed to violence to attain its political ambitions, adding they are "hard-core, violent extremists in Egypt who are trying to develop a relationship with Al Qaeda."
Fox News is told that there are between two- and three-dozen suspects actively being investigated at any one time in connection with the Benghazi attack. The suspect list is fluid, drawn from intelligence ranging from intercepts to witness accounts, with new names being added and dropped on a regular basis.
The majority of the suspects were described to Fox News as "locals" who come from Libya and are followers of the group Ansar al-Shariah, which wants to establish an Islamic state with adherence to strict Shariah law.
The additional suspects are being investigated after one Tunisian suspect, Ali Ani al-Harzi, was first arrested in Turkey -- after being identified through telephone intercepts where he bragged to friends about his involvement -- and transferred to Tunisian custody. There is also at least one suspect with ties to Al Qaeda in Iraq.
The radical ties of the suspects further raises questions about the degree of planning that may have been involved in an attack initially described as "spontaneous."
The Jamal Network takes its name from Mohammed Jamal Abu Ahmed, who was released from an Egyptian jail during the Arab Spring and is now trying to establish himself as a leader in Jihadi circles. U.S. officials believe he established training camps in Libya, and it was in these camps that some of the fighters linked to the attack were trained.
Within the last 10 days, Egyptian police have broken up a "terrorist cell" linked to the Jamal network. As many as 12 militants were arrested.
In the October raid, Libyan Karim Ahmed Essam al-Azizy, who was linked to the consulate attack, was killed.
Mohammed Jamal reportedly has secured financing from the Al Qaeda franchise in Yemen, and he has sought permission to formally establish an Al Qaeda affiliate of his own in Egypt.
An analyst who does open source intelligence collection for the government told Fox News that Egypt and the Sinai peninsula are the new training ground for Al Qaeda. "Egypt and the Sinai are the new ground zero for Al Qaeda activity. It's fertile ground given the release of high-ranking Jihadists with connections to Zawahri including his brother. Egyptian security forces are unable to penetrate the Sinai."
Catherine Herridge is an award-winning Chief Intelligence correspondent for FOX News Channel (FNC) based in Washington, D.C. She covers intelligence, the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security. Herridge joined FNC in 1996 as a London-based correspondent.