A series of internal State Department emails obtained by Fox News shows that officials reported within hours of last month's deadly consulate attack in Libya that Al Qaeda-tied group Ansar al-Sharia had claimed responsibility.
The emails provide some of the most detailed information yet about what officials knew in the initial hours after the attack. And it again raises questions about why U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice, apparently based on intelligence assessments, would claim five days after the attack that it was a "spontaneous" reaction to protests over an anti-Islam film.
Ansar al-Sharia has been declared by the State Department to be an Al Qaeda-affiliated group. A member of the group suspected of participating in the Sept. 11 attack in Benghazi has been arrested and is being held in Tunisia.
The emails obtained by Fox News were sent by the State Department to a variety of national security platforms, whose addresses have been redacted, including the White House Situation Room, the Pentagon, the FBI and the Director of National Intelligence.
Fox News was told that an estimated 300 to 400 national security figures received these emails in real time almost as the raid was playing out and concluding. People who received these emails work directly under the nation’s top national security, military and diplomatic officials, Fox News was told.
The timestamps on the emails are all Eastern Time and often include the subheading SBU, which is shorthand for “Sensitive But Unclassified.”
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