US intelligence agencies have found no evidence that last month's deadly attack on the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya, was ordered by Al-Qaeda, The Los Angeles Times reported late Friday.
Citing unnamed US officials and witnesses, the newspaper said the attack, which killed ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans, was “carried out following a minimum amount of planning.”
“The attackers exhibited a high degree of disorganization,” the paper quotes one of the intelligence officials as saying.
“Some joined the attack in progress, some did not have weapons and others just seemed interested in looting.”
According to another official cited by the paper, “There isn't any intelligence that the attackers pre-planned their assault days or weeks in advance.”
Most of the evidence suggested that “the attackers launched their assault opportunistically” after learning about the violence at the US Embassy in Cairo, The Times quotes the official as saying.
But after five weeks of investigation, US intelligence agencies say they have found no evidence of Al-Qaeda participation, The Times said.
On Sept. 11, heavily-armed militants stormed the U.S. consulate compound in Benghazi and fired on a nearby annex, killing the four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens.
Top Republicans have said President Barack Obama's administration is reluctant to acknowledge the incident was an act of terrorism for political reasons.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had announced earlier that she takes the blame for any shortcomings in the handling of the attack.
Clinton’s comments followed stepped-up criticism of the Obama administration over the Benghazi attack, which Republican presidential challenger Mitt Romney has sought to use to dent Obama’s foreign policy credibility before the Nov. 6 election.
“I take responsibility” for what happened in Ban Ghazi, Clinton said in an interview with CNN during a visit to Peru, adding that President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden would not be responsible for specific security instructions for U.S. diplomatic facilities.
“I’m in charge of the State Department’s 60,000-plus people all over the world,” Clinton said.
“The president and the vice president wouldn’t be knowledgeable about specific decisions that are made by security professionals. They're the ones who weigh all of the threats and the risks and the needs and make a considered decision,” she said according to Reuters.
In the immediate aftermath, Obama administration officials said they appeared to be linked to protests in the Muslim world against a film shot by U.S.-based activists and deemed insulting to the Islamic faith.
But it has since emerged that the prime suspects in the attack, now seen as a deliberate assault, are Islamist militants with links to al-Qaeda.
The recent report results show no terrorist involvement in the Benghazi attack, which was initially argued to have emerged out of protests in the Arab world over an Internet video made on U.S. soil that denigrates Islam and its Prophet.