Beltway Confidential

'Smart diplomacy' update: Benghazi now a 'training hub' for Islamist fighters

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Beltway Confidential,National Security,Benghazi,Terrorism,Islamic Jihad,Charles Hoskinson,Islam

It's been two years now since Muammar Gaddafi was overthrown and President Obama's supporters in the foreign policy community hailed the U.S.-backed effort as a triumph of "smart diplomacy," in contrast to what they saw as the Iraq "fiasco."

So how are things in Libya now? Let's check in with McClatchy correspondent Nancy A. Youssef, who writes from Benghazi:

"Every week, about a dozen Syrians arrive at Benghazi’s airport for what’s described as insurgent training. When they fly out, they’re carrying fake Libyan passports, according to three officials familiar with the comings and goings of foreigners at the airport.

"The accounts of the officials, who asked to remain anonymous because of the sensitivity of the topic, are more evidence that this city in Libya has become a regional hub for Islamist extremists seeking to hone their combat skills."

Benghazi. That would be the same place where U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were killed in an attack by Islamist militants on Sept. 11, 2012, burying the Obama Doctrine of "leading from behind" in the rubble of the U.S. mission there.

Until that attack, one of the central messages of Obama's re-election campaign was that al Qaeda "has been decimated" and was "on the ropes." But now it's looking more like the U.S. intervention in Libya opened up new opportunities for the group and its allies in the Islamist extremist community.

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