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Terrorists emboldened by U.S. non-response to Benghazi attack: experts

While the United States braces for a possible attack by violent radicals, some analysts said Washington's non-response to the Sept. 11, 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya has emboldened militants.

Washington has closed 19 embassies worldwide after intelligence agencies warned of unspecified threats against U.S. targets in the Middle East, Africa, Europe, at home, or elsewhere.

Jessica Zuckerman, a policy analyst for homeland security at the Heritage Foundation, told Xinhua the Obama administration's failure to retaliate against those who attacked the U.S. consulate in Benghazi "has given a green light to radicals who wish to kill Americans."

During the Benghazi attack, U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were killed, and U.S. Congress has been investigating whether there was a cover-up by the Obama administration to prevent it from derailing his reelection campaign.

"It sends a message that we're weaker when we're taking a risk-adverse strategy against al-Qaeda," Zuckerman said.

In a blog post on Heritage's website, the organization said the White House has learned to play it safe when credible terrorist threats are detected.

While Obama assured the U.S. public that al-Qaeda was dead after terror mastermind Osama bin Laden was killed in a 2011 raid on his compound in Pakistan, experts said the threat of terror is very much alive.

Indeed, al-Qaeda has splintered into myriad groups, and some groups posing a threat have little or no direct involvement with the militant group. That makes the threat of a terror strike less predictable, experts said.

"At least Thursday's embassy closings show a heightened awareness of the persistent terrorist threat, but they also add up to at least the impression of a massive U.S. retreat from the Middle East region," Heritage said.

The State Department said 19 U.S. embassies will be shuttered, although some were already slated to close temporarily during the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, according to State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki.

She added that the department would "exercise caution and take appropriate steps to protect our employees, including local employees and visitors to our facilities."

Some praised the administration for its closure of the U.S. embassies as a prudent move. On Sunday, Senator Lindsey Graham told CNN's "State of the Union" program that the United States has learned from the Benghazi tragedy, adding that "the administration's doing this right."

[Source: Xinhua, Washington, 05Aug13]

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