As the State Department began Tuesday to circulate a highly anticipated report into what happened in the Sept. 11 Libya consulate attack, a separate analysis found that the first reference to the anti-Islam film that was initially blamed for sparking the attack was not detected on social media until a day later.
The independent review of more than 4,000 postings was conducted by a leading social media monitoring firm.
“From the data we have, it’s hard for us to reach the conclusion that the consulate attack was motivated by the movie. Nothing in the immediate picture – surrounding the attack in Libya -- suggests that,” Jeff Chapman, chief executive with Agincourt Solutions told Fox News.
Chapman says his analysts reviewed postings in Libya, including those from Benghazi, over a three-day period beginning on Sept. 11.
After identifying a geographic area and isolating a time frame, Chapman says his analysts can then “vacuum” up all of the social media postings, which are then analyzed in the original language using mathematical models. The firm previously has done work for government agencies and Fortune 500 companies.
“We have seen no traffic in Benghazi – in the immediate lead up to the attack - related to the anti-Islam film," Chapman said. "There is a single source reporting on the evening of 9/11 that roads leading to the U.S. consulate in Benghazi were blocked. We also believe we have identified at least one individual who may have been involved - based on our analysis - that he posted a picture of himself attacking the consulate with an RPG.”
At 9:50 p.m. local time in Benghazi, about 20 minutes after the consulate assault began, one tweet provided by Chapman and translated from the Arabic states, “All roads leading to the U.S. Consulate closed #Benghazi and spread heavy security #USConsulate.”
The first reference to the anti-Islam film, initially blamed by the Obama administration for provoking the violent attack in Benghazi, appears to be a retweet of a Russia Today story that was not posted until Sept. 12 at 09:12 a.m. local time. The translation reads, “U.S. ambassador killed in Libya during his his country's consulate in Benghazi - Russia today http://t.co/SvAV0o7T response to the film abuser.”
Another tweet claims the motivation for the attack was not the film, which had been out on the Web for some time, but rather the attack may have been inspired by the deaths of Usama Bin Laden and another Al Qaeda operative al Libi, who was killed in a U.S. drone strike: “Is this revenge for the Messenger of Allah or revenge for the killing of bin Laden and Abu Yahya al-Libi? “
On the eve of closed, classified congressional testimony on the independent State Department report into the Benghazi attack, Fox News is told there is also growing evidence that within the first 24 hours the State Department and CIA strongly suspected it was a terrorist attack.
Fox News is told the intelligence breaks down into four elements. In addition to telephone intercepts, in which Islamists apparently celebrated the attack, and evidence from the CIA station chief that supported militant involvement -- not a spontaneous demonstration by those upset about the film -- there was real-time email from the State Department on the ground in Libya to the White House national security staff on Sept. 11 that the Islamist group Ansar al-Sharia had claimed responsibility for the attack on Facebook.
While administration officials played down the significance of the claim, saying the group later denied responsibility, Fox News is told by analysts who do open source collection for the federal government that a real-time claim would be given more weight from because it could only have been made by someone on the ground who was a witness, or an individual who was involved.
To further flesh out the point, Fox News is told, personnel at the U.S. embassy in Tripoli were moved to a “secure facility” on the morning of Sept. 12 fearing a potential follow on attack by the group.
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.