In December, a U.S. official with direct knowledge of the investigation said authorities were examining whether the alleged leader of a post-revolution terrorist network in Egypt had played a role in the September 11 attack. Mohammed Jamal Abu Ahmed was released from jail after the downfall of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and is believed to be the driving force behind a new militant group, according to two U.S. officials.
Abu Ahmed was previously a member of al-Zawahiri's group, Egyptian Islamic Jihad. He is currently in prison in Egypt after being arrested in December, when police raided a Cairo apartment allegedly being used by a jihadist group. An associate of Abu Ahmed's subsequently said that he had not been in Benghazi or anywhere in Libya on the day of the attack on the compound.
In the wake of the revolts that have shaken the Arab world, al Qaeda sympathizers have found new space in which to operate, and would-be jihadists have found new causes to embrace. In Syria, the al-Nusra Front has proclaimed its links to the al Qaeda affiliate in Iraq. Militants from Tunisia, Libya and elsewhere have gone to Syria. In west Africa, Nigerian jihadists with Boko Haram have established links with al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and trained in Mali.
If AQAP sent members thousands of miles to help launch an attack on U.S. diplomats, it would show that even if al Qaeda central remains under pressure, its fellow travelers are finding new ways to continue its campaign of terror.