Was Benghazi A Cia Operation


The attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya in September 2012, popularly known as Benghazi, raised many questions. Among them, the most commonly asked and yet unresolved question to date is; was the attack a CIA operation?
At the time of the attack the United States was in the process of toppling the Libyan dictator, Muammar Gaddafi. As such, the Benghazi incident has been the subject of much scrutiny from the public and conspiracy theorists alike, speculating whether the attack was part of a secret CIA mission. To properly and fully answer this question, it is necessary to first analyze what is known about the attack, its timing and purpose, as well as the credible evidence that supports certain theories.


The attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi took place on September 11th, 2012 and resulted in the deaths of 4 Americans, including the U.S. Ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens. The attack was well planned and executed, beginning with an armed assault on the compound by militants. Afterwards, the militants set the compound on fire and destroyed it.
Immediately after the attack, U.S. officials began to investigate what may have happened and who was behind it. Initially, the Obama Administration announced that the attack was a spontaneous reaction to an anti-Muslim video that had been posted online. Later, it was revealed that the attack may have been a coordinated terrorist attack that was planned in advance.
The U.S. government has since acknowledged that the attack was most likely carried out by members of al-Qaeda-affiliated extremist group Ansar al-Sharia, but has been unable to confirm the identities of all the assailants. To this day, the FBI has yet to apprehend any suspects for the attack, and some of the attackers remain at large.

Withheld Information

An initial investigation conducted by the Senate Armed Services Committee found that there had been no intelligence warning of an imminent threat prior to the attack, suggesting the surprise element was a critical factor in the success of the attack. This has raised suspicions of whether or not the CIA had kept pertinent information about the attack from the rest of the government.
Further inquiry showed that the CIA was operating a covert mission in Benghazi just prior to the attack. According to testimony given to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence by Gregory Hicks, the Deputy Chief of Mission in Libya at the time of the attack, there was an influx of CIA personnel in Benghazi prior to the attack.
This was later confirmed by an investigation by a British newspaper, which found that the CIA had been running “an intelligence-gathering operation” in Benghazi. It is widely speculated that the operation was an effort to track weapons that had been shipped to rebels in Syria.


Given these facts, theorists as well as concerned citizens have questioned what the CIA was up to in Benghazi prior to the attack and if it had any intelligence or foreknowledge of the attack. Consequently, there have been several theories circulating, suggesting that the attack was either part of a CIA operation or at least known to the CIA prior to it occurring.
One of the most popular theories is that the CIA was running a weapons-smuggling operation that was targeted by the attackers. According to this theory, the attackers may have set out to steal the weapons or disrupt the operation, leading to the attack on the compounds.
Other theories suggest that the CIA had advance knowledge of the attack and did not share it with the rest of the government. It is speculated that they wanted to protect the covert weapons-smuggling mission or that they wanted to avoid any potential political fallout from the attack.


Various reports and testimonies have strengthened these theories and have made them seem more plausible. For instance, a Judicial Watch Freedom of Information Act has revealed that the CIA had been warning of an attack on the anniversary of September 11th, 2012.
Further, emails released after the attack showed that the CIA was aware of the threat of an attack prior to it happening. Additionally, the CIA itself had requested more security personnel for the compound several times prior to the attack, but had been denied.
A separate CIA investigation found that Benghazi was also used as a hub for secret military activities and intelligence operations prior to the attack. This investigation, along with the testimonies of former CIA personnel and officials, has strengthened the theory that there may have been more to the Benghazi attack than meet the eyes.

Political Implications

The realization of there being more to the Benghazi attack could have far-reaching consequences and effects. For example, if the CIA was indeed running a weapons-smuggling mission and failed to disclose this information to the rest of the government, then the White House could be held accountable for its failures in preventing or warning about the attack.
On the other hand, if the CIA was aware of the attack before it happened, then the responsibility for the deaths of the four Americans rests solely with the CIA. This could potentially lead to legal repercussions for the CIA itself and its personnel, as well as serious reputational damage.

Financial Motives

Another possible motive for the CIA’s actions is financial gain. It is speculated that the agency was running a weapons-smuggling operation in order to obtain weapons to be sold on the black market. It is thus possible that the CIA was looking to obtain profits from the sale, which may have provided the agency with an incentive to keep the operation covert.
It is also possible that the CIA was prolonging the operation as long as possible in order to maximize profits. If this was the case, then it is quite possible that the CIA was aware of the risks and dangers involved, but disregarded them in order to maintain the operation.

Implied Knowledge

While the evidence that the CIA was either aware of the attack prior to it happening, or was complicit in the operation itself, is inconclusive, it is quite possible that the agency was aware of the attack prior to it happening.
Various testimonies and investigations conducted in the aftermath of the attack have suggested that the CIA was aware of the heightened security concerns in Benghazi. Furthermore, emails released after the attack indicated that the CIA had requested for more security personnel prior to the attack. This can be interpreted as the CIA being aware of the imminent danger, but not sharing the information with the rest of the government.

Suggested Cover Up

Given the CIA’s silence on the matter and its reluctance to reveal the truth, it is likely that the agency has something to hide. It is possible that the CIA wanted to protect their covert mission, or simply cover up any embarrassing or politically damaging information.
It is also possible that the CIA is worried about any legal repercussions or losses it may face for its past actions. The agency may thus be attempting to withhold information that may potentially incriminate it or its personnel. With this in mind, it is clear that the CIA had a vested interest in keeping the truth hidden.


Ultimately, we may never know the truth behind the Benghazi attack. What is certain, however, is that the CIA had a vested interest in keeping any potential covert operations secret, which may have led it to withhold information that could have potentially provided the government with better insight on the attack.
Only time will tell if the truth behind the Benghazi incident ever comes to light. Until then, we can only speculate as to what really happened in Benghazi and whether or not it was a CIA operation.

Categories CIA

Rosemary Harrold is an accomplished writer and researcher who is both passionate and knowledgeable about the world of secret services. She gained an MSc in International Relations in 2017 and has since built on her expertise with numerous publications on intelligence agencies, their practices, and recent developments. Rosemary has been writing about IBM, CIA and FBI activities since then, as well as providing in-depth analysis on intelligence-related topics.

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