Daily Israel Report

Algerian Hostage Crisis May be the New Benghazi for the U.S.

Source: Just before Algerian crisis, U.S. received a number of reports that "something big" would be carried out against a Western target.
By Annie Lubin
First Publish: 1/21/2013, 11:44 PM

Algerian security escorts a freed hostage
Algerian security escorts a freed hostage
Reuters

Recent reports reveal that the U.S. may have another Benghazi scandal on their hands. 

The Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee said that the U.S. received a number of reports that "something big" would be carried out against a Western target just before the Algerian hostage crisis which ended in a final assault Saturday night - although he claimed the information was not decisive enough to act on. 

"Just like the Benghazi event, we had lots of threat streams," Rep. Mike Rogers (R.-Mich.) told ABC News Sunday. "There are reports coming in from all different types of sources saying, 'Something big is going to happen…We didn't know for sure, for certain it would be this particular place under those circumstances, but we knew that they were trying to find a...Western target, which this clearly was."

Rogers was referring to the terror attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi in September of last year. The attack sparked outrage within the U.S. as reports surfaced that the government ignored regional threats and may have been able to prevent the attack which killed four Americans, including the ambassador to Libya. 

Survivors said the terrorists targeted Americans and other Westerners. According to Algerian authorities, the 32 terrorists, armed with heavy machine guns, missiles and other weaponry, specifically singled out foreign workers at the gas plant, killing some and attaching explosives to others.

One of the terrorists told Algeria's Ennahar TV that if the group did not get what they wanted, "The Americans that are here, we will kill them…We will slaughter them."

Rogers told ABC News that the incident reveals that al-Qaeda has not been diminished, but rather the opposite, they are re-emerging as a powerful force in the region. 

"Clearly this is a growing threat in the region. They feel emboldened," he said. "It can't just be Algeria. It has to be the whole northern Africa region and it needs to be a cohesive policy that is well-coordinated that covers all the different problems that we're finding in northern Africa... It really is naive to believe this isn't getting worse."

On Saturday, Algerian forces stormed a gas plant in the Sahara desert, bringing a four-day hostage situation to a violent end. In the aftermath, security forces searched the area for explosives and booby traps, and instead discovered a grizzly scene as dozens of bodies were found. 

Many of the bodies were badly disfigured, making it hard for officials to identify the dead. 

The current death toll is 81. 

Three Americans were killed in the standoff and seven Americans made it out safely.