Editor’s Note: Today, we are extremely fortunate to be able to share the words of subject matter expert and SOFREP contributor Sarah Adams. Sarah was an Intelligence Analyst and Targeter with the CIA and later served as the Senior Advisor to the US House of Representatives Select Committee on Benghazi. She provides us with important information about a key terrorist figure involved in the attacks. — GDM
In a dramatic turn of events on June 11th, 2023, the notorious terrorist Ziad Balaam, a key figure in the infamous 2012 Benghazi attacks on the U.S. Mission and CIA Annex, was detained and subsequently deported from Istanbul Airport in Turkey back to Libya. Ziad is now barred from returning to Turkey. This shocking development comes after years of Ziad enjoying freedom of movement in Turkey, adding a surprising twist to the long-standing pursuit of justice for the lives lost.
As all our readers are well-aware, the September 2012 attacks claimed the lives of four Americans, including Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, Sean Smith, and warriors from within our community, Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty. These events triggered intense scrutiny of security protocols and the response to such threats.
Originally, the plan was to deport Ziad back to Benghazi, the city where he committed numerous acts of terror, to face justice under the government in eastern Libya, where he is wanted as a terrorist. However, the Western-based government of Libya, led by Prime Minister Abdul Hamid al-Dbeibeh, intervened, redirecting Ziad’s deportation to Mitiga Airport in Tripoli. This sudden development has raised concerns that the Libyan government may be seeking to release Ziad, thereby undermining justice for the victims and endangering regional security.
Ziad Balaam, also known as Omar al-Mokhtar, has a long terrorist past. In 2002, he was sentenced to life in Gaddafi’s Abu Salim prison for his involvement with al-Qa’ida and terrorist activities in Sudan. However, during the 2011 Libyan Revolution, he was released by fellow terrorists, taking advantage of the chaos engulfing the nation. During the revolution, Ziad joined the ranks of the Omar Mokhtar Brigade led by al-Qa’ida’s Abdel Moneim al-Madhouni. After al-Madhouni’s death, Ziad assumed leadership of al-Qa’ida’s Malik Brigade, making him one of the most powerful members of al-Qa’ida in Libya and a key powerbroker with its government.
September 11th, 2012, a date forever etched in the memories of Americans, marked the fateful day when Ziad and over 150 of his terrorist allies carried out the first assault of many that night on U.S. personnel in Benghazi. His audacity was further highlighted by his claims of stealing his personal Squad Automatic Weapon (SAW) during the assault, a grim trophy.