A member of a squadron at the U.S. Aviano Air Base in northeastern Italy the night of the Sept. 11, 2012, terrorist attacks in Benghazi, Libya, that killed four Americans tells Fox News, “We could have been there.”
His team was alerted a “real world mission was going down,” added the witness, who was on the ground at Aviano the night of the attack but asked to remain anonymous.
“There were people everywhere,” said the whistleblower. “That flight line was full of people, and we were all ready to go” to Benghazi.
U.S. planes were armed and prepared to deploy to Libya, which sits hundreds of miles away from Aviano, where fellow Americans were under attack by jihadists, noted the witness, adding that Benghazi could have been reached within a few hours.
He said his squadron was briefed on the attack, but the order to deploy never came.
“The whole night we were told that we are waiting on a call,” declared the U.S. service member.
Fox News reports, “The source, the first in his squadron to speak out publicly since that attack, is going public to explain – in his view – that more could have been done to save Americans under attack that night.”
“He asked that his identity be protected for fear of retribution,” it adds. “He says others in his squadron also have wanted to talk about Benghazi from the beginning, but no others have been interviewed and all are afraid of the potential backlash from speaking out.”
The witness’s account contradicts various official reports, including from the House Select Committee on Benghazi, the U.S military, and an investigation by the U.S. State Department Accountability Review Board that concluded the Obama administration response to Benghazi was “timely and appropriate.”
The secretary of state at the time of the attack, Hillary Clinton, and the State Department have claimed that nothing more could have been done to prevent the attack and save the four Americans who lost their lives.
However, a recently released Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit revealed that Pentagon Chief of Staff Jeremy Bash had offered the U.S. military’s assistance to the State Department on the night of the attack, saying American forces could deploy to Benghazi and “they are spinning up as we speak.”
“I’m not trying to give away any type of [information] that could ever harm the military,” the squadron member told Fox News. “That is never my plan. I feel that some things need to come to light.”
He revealed that a squadron was ready to deploy on the night of the attack.
“I definitely believe that our aircraft could have taken off and gotten there in a timely manner, maybe three hours at the most, in order to at least stop that second mortar attack… and basically save lives that day,” said the source.
“We could have been there. That’s the worst part,” he added.
Ambassador Chris Stevens and information officer Sean Smith were killed early in the attack on the diplomatic post and CIA compound in Benghazi, while Former Navy SEALs Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty lost their lives later.
A former team sergeant for an anti-terror quick reaction military force, identified only as Mike, has also spoken to Fox News about Benghazi.
“For some reason they were all shut down, and I think it leads back to a policymaker somewhere because nobody in the military is going to shut down an operation,” he told Fox News.
Mike was at Delta Force headquarters in the U.S. monitoring the events as they occurred during the night of the attack.
“We had hours and hours and hours to do something… and we did nothing,” he declared.
In June 2014, Delta Forces captured the only man who has been charged in the attack — Abu Khattala — who was described by Mike as a low-level jihadist.
Neither Mike nor the anonymous squadron member have spoken to government officials.