Benghazi attack not work of Al-Qaeda: report

SteveUS ambassador Chris Stevens and three of his countrymen were killed in an attack on September 11 last year. (Reuters)

Al-Qaeda had no direct involvement in the attack on the US mission in Benghazi that left four Americans dead on September 11 last year, The New York Times reported.

In an investigation published on its website and based on extensive reporting in the Libyan city, the Times on Saturday said the killing of US ambassador Chris Stevens and three of his countrymen was the work of local fighters.

The report could likely stir up controversy in Washington, where the Obama administration has repeatedly been accused of covering up what happened in Benghazi - a charge it denies.

The newspaper also said the attack may indeed have been sparked by citizens who headed to the US mission after being angered by an anti-Islamic video that had aired on local television channels.

Based on interviews with Libyans in Benghazi that the Times said had direct knowledge of the attack, the newspaper "turned up no evidence that Al-Qaeda or other international groups had any role in the assault," it said.

"The attack was led, instead by fighters who had benefited directly from NATO's extensive air power and logistics during the uprising," against the country's long-time dictator Muammar Gaddafi, killed in October 2011.

The newspaper, citing American officials briefed on a criminal probe into the killings, alleged that a local rebel leader named Ahmed Abu Khattala, said to have disdain for the United States despite its help to overthrow Gaddafi , is the prime suspect for orchestrating the Benghazi killings.

The Times report placed him at the US mission at the time of the attack and in an interview with the newspaper he said he was indeed present, but denied he was responsible.

"Mr Abu Khattala declared openly and often that he placed the United States not far behind Colonel Gadhafi on his list of infidel enemies," the newspaper said.

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