A New York Times investigation of the Sept. 11, 2012 attack in Benghazi, Libya that killed four Americans, including a U.S. ambassador, found no evidence that al-Qaida or other international terrorists groups had a role in the assault, the newspaper reported Saturday.
The report calls into question Republican allegations of an Obama administration cover-up of the events that killed Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens.
U.S. House members on Sunday disputed the report and its determination that al-Qaida had no role in the attack.
"I dispute that, and the intelligence community, to a large volume, disputes that," Michigan Republican Rep. Mike Rogers, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, told "Fox News Sunday."
California Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff also said that "intelligence indicates al-Qaida was involved."
According to the Times, the attack was fueled in large part by an anti-Islam video circulating on the Internet. This explanation was offered by Susan Rice, now President Barack Obama's national security adviser.
However, neither the spontaneous street protest nor the carefully planned attack theories are completely accurate. The reality is murkier, the Times says.
SDLqBenghazi was not infiltrated by Al Qaeda, but nonetheless contained grave local threats to American interests," the report says. "The attack does not appear to have been meticulously planned, but neither was it spontaneous or without warning signs."
The report singles out a militia leader, Ahmed Abu Khattala, who denies participating in the attack but was placed there by witnesses, as one of the prime suspects identified by the U.S. investigation. He has no known links to terrorist groups, but Abu Khattala placed the United States not far behind longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi on his enemies list.
However, the violence also had spontaneous elements. The report says anger at the video motivated the initial attack. Dozens of people joined in, some of them provoked by the video and others responding to fast-spreading false rumors that guards inside the American compound had shot Libyan protesters. Looters and arsonists, without any sign of a plan, were the ones who ravaged the compound after the initial attack.