Sen. Bob Corker visited Libya, Jordan and portions of the Syrian border over the weekend, as part of a fact-finding trip in light of last month's attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
It was the second trip to the Middle East in roughly a month for Corker, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Despite his repeated criticism of the Obama administration's handling of the attack that killed a U.S. ambassador and three of his American staffers, the senator limited his comments upon his return—instead opting to place focus on the threat of al-Qaida to U.S. missions.
In a brief news release, Corker said the country must recognize dangers posed by the terrorist group. Although it was not clear if the senator and former Chattanooga mayor was placing blame directly on al-Qaida for the Sept. 11 attack, several reports have suggested members of the group or its associates were responsible.
"I am convinced more and more that al-Qaida, its affiliates and other violent extremist organizations continue to be a serious threat to America and other countries around the world who share our Democratic values," Corker said. "The attack on Americans in Benghazi on Sept. 11, 2012 is a stark reminder that our nation must remain vigilant in protecting our citizens from the threat of al-Qaida and similar extremist terrorist entities around the world. Unless we acknowledge this reality and appropriately posture ourselves toward the threat, we will be caught off guard again in the future."
The senator's comment made no mention of President Barack Obama or members of his administration—who he recently suggested may be covering up aspects of the attack. Although Corker did not travel to Benghazi, the senator met with the chief of staff of the Libyan Armed Forces and other officials on Monday in the Libyan capital of Tripoli.
In an interview with a Washington Post reporter stationed in Tripoli, Corker suggested investigations into the attack had been impeded by a deficiency in government institutions equipped to deal with the situation in a country still adjusting after last year's revolution.
"I don't think there's been much coordination at all," he said. "My sense is that almost everything the American government knows about the situation is what the American government has derived on their own."
During his trip, the senator also spent two days in Jordan, meeting with officials and visiting the Za'atri refugee camp along the Syrian border. It was the senator's second visit to a camp for the hundreds of thousands of refugees who have been displaced by the ongoing conflict in Syria.