Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Wednesday, for the first time, said there was a direct link between al Qaeda's branch in North Africa and the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, that killed four Americans. At a meeting on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, Clinton said al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb had taken advantage of instability in North Africa to carve out a safe haven, and was "working with other violent extremists to undermine the democratic transitions under way in North Africa, as we tragically saw in Benghazi." Clinton did not offer any new specifics to back her statement, which comes amid Republican accusations that the Obama administration is downplaying al Qaeda's involvement in the Benghazi attack to sidestep foreign-policy criticism in an election season.
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