U.S. Ambassador to Libya John Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were killed Tuesday in an assault on the American consulate in the eastern city of Benghazi, Libya.
We’re wrapping up the live blog. Here are five posts worth reading from the events in Libya today:
- Alleged witness: Attackers said ‘We are Muslims defending the Prophet’
- Libyans pay tribute to Christopher Stevens
- U.S. consulate attack was a planned terrorist assault, British think tank says
- President Obama: ‘Justice will be done’
- ‘Innocence of Muslims’ movie: What’s it about?
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) answered questions from reporters earlier today. Following are some of the questions and his answers.
Question: What do you know about what’s occurred?
“What we do know is that it was clearly an organized attack. The affiliation is not quite as clear as we would need it to be.”
Question: What should the U.S. do?
“We should work with our Libyan counterparts. You cannot let something like this stand. They need to be brought to justice swiftly. We need to send a very clear message we will not tolerate this kind of activity and taking the life of a U.S. diplomat anywhere in the world. That needs to happen quickly. If we’re having this same conversation about what we should do a month from now, we’re in a lot of trouble.”
What about the Egyptian incident and response?
“Remember – two different events. There’s still a lot of questions about the Egyptian event, but this was a military-style attack on a U.S. diplomat station. That’s serious enough, and it is a very different circumstance from what we saw in Egypt. However, a lot of people are jumping to conclusions that it was this video that spurned this activity. That’s not consistent with what we have seen in the past when it comes to information operations by extremist elements hoping to incite violence. We’ve got a lot more questions to ask, the Egyptians have some questions they’re going to have to answer about their activities on that particular day and what they plan to do in the future about keeping the grounds of our embassy safe.
Question: Any reason to believe security was too lax at these diplomatic locations in Libya and Egypt?
“It’s premature to say. In Benghazi it was a consulate, it wasn’t the embassy itself. There were transition things happening between Benghazi and Tripoli…Benghazi was the initial headquarters, if you will. There was a lot of that. It’s pretty hard, at least today, to say they did not take all the necessary precautions. We will learn more as the investigation unfolds and as all the information comes in.”
Washington Post correspondent Michael Birnbaum reports from Cairo on information he gathered from one man who said he witnessed the attack in Benghazi.
“One man who said he witnessed part of the incident, Libyan television
journalist Firas Abdelhakim, said that a group of several dozen attackers
mounted an assault on the consulate.
Abdelhakim said that he was about three miles from consulate when he saw a
group of cars – 20 to 30 of them – driving toward the consulate shortly
before 9:30 p.m.
When he got to the consulate, he saw a group of about 50 armed men
gathering. They weren’t carrying banners, nor were they chanting slogans.
When asked who they were, they said: “we are Muslims defending the
Prophet,” “we are defending the Prophet, we are defending Islam,” and “we
are a group of Muslim youth.”
Abdelhakim said he made his way through the group after he explained he was a journalist. When he got to the consulate, he saw Libyan security forces – the February 17 battalion – guarding the consulate, which is a walled-off villa compound with a swimming pool on an unpaved side street in the Fwayhat district of Benghazi.
The assault on the consulate, in which the groups traded fire, started
sometime between 10:30 and 11 p.m., he said.
Many residents in the area have small palm tree farms and green gardens, a
luxury in the dusty city. There are other shops and cafes in the district,
a luxury residential neighborhood. In the complex, there are several
buildings: one is an administrative center; others are accommodation for
employees. There is a small palm tree farm in the back of the complex, and
one security watchtower.
Benghazi residents said that the compound had never had a major security
presence around it.”
Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi asked the Egyptian Embassy in Washington to take legal action against the filmmaker responsible for the incendiary movie clip that allegedly played a role in sparking the violence in Cairo and Benghazi in this week, Reuters reports.
Morsi had requested the mission to take “all legal measures”, the MENA news agency reported.
Former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge doesn’t agree with Romney’s claim that Obama sympathizes with the protesters who attacked the embassy in Cairo, according to a video interview with Think Progress today.
Ridge, who served under former President George W. Bush, also added that he thinks Obama’s foreign-policy strategy has been overly “rhetorical.”
“But I do think…the series of events, the uncertainty around Syria, the fact that Iran continues to march toward nuclear weapons, the rhetorical responses to some of the other events, the failure to support democratic opposition in Iran. If all our efforts are rhetorical, it is natural for the enemies of the West to…fear no repercussions. In that part of the world, it’s better to be respected rather than liked.”
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov sent the following telegram to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Wednesday expressing his condolences over the attack in Libya.
We are shocked by the tragic death of Ambassador Christopher Stevens
and his colleagues. We ask you to convey our heartfelt sympathy to the
families and loved ones of the victims.
We strongly condemn this crime, which once again confirms the need for
joint efforts of our countries and the entire international community to
fight the scourge of terrorism in all its manifestations.
Sept. 12, 2012
Earlier, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney claimed President Obama jumped to the defense of the attackers rather than condemning the attacks.
The Post’s Fact-Checker columnist, Glenn Kessler, reports on how former President Ronald Reagan reacted to the failed mission to rescue U.S. diplomats in Iran, the worst foreign-policy disaster that occurred during the term of his own political rival, former President Jimmy Carter:
“In April 1980, Reagan was still battling George H.W. Bush for the GOP nomination, while Sen. Edward M. Kennedy was challenging Carter for the Democratic nomination. This is excerpted from The Washington Post reporting on the political fallout:
Reagan told a Los Angeles press conference, “This is a difficult day for all of us Americans. . . . It is time for us . . . to stand united. It is a day for quiet reflection . . . when words should be few and confined essentially to our prayers.”
Washington Post Pakistan Bureau Chief Richard Leiby reports:
Pakistan’s government simultaneously condemned both the killings in Libya and what it called “the airing of the defamatory video clip in the U.S.”
Pakistan has a long history of mob violence and extrajudicial killings over reported insults to the Prophet Muhammad, a crime punishable there by death.
In a statement referring to the “Innocence of Muslims” movie, Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said: “Such abominable actions … provoke hatred, discord and enmity within societies and between peoples of various faiths. The event has deeply hurt the feelings of the people of Pakistan and the Muslims all over the world.”
None of the four Americans killed in Benghazi were Marines or military members; all were State Department civilians, according to a senior U.S. military official.
There were about half a dozen Americans wounded in Benghazi, but apparently no Marines were posted as security officers at the consulate.
Police fired teargas and rubber bullets to disperse protesters in Sidi Bouzid, the city in Tunisia where the Arab Spring rebellions began last year, Reuters reports.
The demonstrators reportedly demanded “jobs, more investment in their region and the dismissal of the city’s governor.”
According to some reports on the ground, the demonstrations were fairly minor.
The United Nations condemned the attack in Libya that killed U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three Americans. Libya’s deputy ambassador to the U.N., Ibrahim Dabbashi, called Stevens’ death a ‘big loss’ for Libya.
DE PERE, Wis. – In contrast to Mitt Romney – who sharply criticized Obama
at a Jacksonville, Fla., news conference earlier Wednesday – GOP
vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan did not take aim at the president in
his remarks as he took the stage at Cornerstone Community Ice Center
outside of Green Bay.
“I know all Americans today are shocked and saddened by the news in the
Middle East,” Ryan told a crowd in his home state. “The attacks on our
diplomatic missions in Egypt and Libya, and the loss of four American lives
— including our ambassador, J. Christopher Stevens — this is outrageous.
Our hearts are heavy. And our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and
- Felicia Sonmez
Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens was widely respected among ordinary Libyans, who appreciated that he had ventured into dangerous areas in eastern Libya in the early days of the uprising. Later, when he moved to Tripoli as ambassador, they traded
stories of spotting him at a popular coffee shop in Tripoli’s walled old
city. - Tara Bahrampour
From Stevens’ Facebook page:
“I can no longer hold my head up high as a Libyan, I now bow my head
in shame, we have lost a great man in you Chris, you gave me so much
optimism in Ramadan and so much hope for my country, you gave your
life for what you believed in and for that we are eternally grateful.
I said this to you in July 2011 when you were being sent to Benghazi
and I will say it till the end of time, you are
الرجل المناسب في المكان المناسب…. بارك الله فيك
(Translation: “The appropriate man at the appropriate
time…good for you.”) Thank you my friend, my family and I will cherish every moment we spent together, and you will always be in our hearts…. We love you,
may you rest in peace.
Many expressed their condolences on Twitter as well:
Washington Post Pakistan Bureau Chief Richard Leiby reports:
In Afghanistan, where the errant burning of copies of the Koran by U.S. soldiers led to deadly riots in February, the U.S. Embassy and U.S.-led NATO coalition both condemned the violence in Libya. In a joint statement, they appealed to Afghan officials to help stem potential violence.
“We ask for the assistance of Afghan leaders and the people of Afghanistan in maintaining calm and continuing our work to build a better, secure future,” the statement said. “The safety of the Afghan people, Americans, and Afghan and Coalition forces continues to be our utmost priority. “
Four NATO service members were killed in the immediate aftermath of Koran burning, which incited five days of violent protests across the country. In the wake of that incident, the Taliban called on Afghan soldiers and police to target their western counterparts.
President Obama spoke for about 15 minutes Wednesday to a crowd of several hundred gathered in the courtyard in the middle of the State Department Building.
The president spoke on the importance of the foreign service, adding that he understands its value from the years he spent abroad growing up.
He also spoke highly of Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and the other officials who died in the attack. He concluded his visit by shaking dozens of hands and speaking one-on-one with attendees.
Remarks of Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton in Washington:
Yesterday, our U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya was attacked. Heavily armed militants assaulted the compound and set fire to our buildings. American and Libyan security personnel battled the attackers together. Four Americans were killed. They included Sean Smith, a Foreign Service information management officer, and our Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens. We are still making next of kin notifications for the other two individuals.
This is an attack that should shock the conscience of people of all faiths around the world. We condemn in the strongest terms this senseless act of violence, and we send our prayers to the families, friends, and colleagues of those we’ve lost.
All over the world, every day, America’s diplomats and development experts risk their lives in the service of our country and our values, because they believe that the United States must be a force for peace and progress in the world, that these aspirations are worth striving and sacrificing for. Alongside our men and women in uniform, they represent the best traditions of a bold and generous nation.
In the lobby of this building, the State Department, the names of those who have fallen in the line of duty are inscribed in marble. Our hearts break over each one. And now, because of this tragedy, we have new heroes to honor and more friends to mourn.
Chris Stevens fell in love with the Middle East as a young Peace Corps volunteer teaching English in Morocco. He joined the Foreign Service, learned languages, won friends for America in distant places, and made other people’s hopes his own.
In the early days of the Libyan revolution, I asked Chris to be our envoy to the rebel opposition. He arrived on a cargo ship in the port of Benghazi and began building our relationships with Libya’s revolutionaries. He risked his life to stop a tyrant, then gave his life trying to help build a better Libya. The world needs more Chris Stevenses. I spoke with his sister, Ann, this morning, and told her that he will be remembered as a hero by many nations.
Sean Smith was an Air Force veteran. He spent 10 years as an information management officer in the State Department, he was posted at The Hague, and was in Libya on a brief temporary assignment. He was a husband to his wife Heather, with whom I spoke this morning. He was a father to two young children, Samantha and Nathan. They will grow up being proud of the service their father gave to our country, service that took him from Pretoria to Baghdad, and finally to Benghazi.
The mission that drew Chris and Sean and their colleagues to Libya is both noble and necessary, and we and the people of Libya honor their memory by carrying it forward. This is not easy. Today, many Americans are asking – indeed, I asked myself – how could this happen? How could this happen in a country we helped liberate, in a city we helped save from destruction? This question reflects just how complicated and, at times, how confounding the world can be.
But we must be clear-eyed, even in our grief. This was an attack by a small and savage group – not the people or Government of Libya. Everywhere Chris and his team went in Libya, in a country scarred by war and tyranny, they were hailed as friends and partners. And when the attack came yesterday, Libyans stood and fought to defend our post. Some were wounded. Libyans carried Chris’ body to the hospital, and they helped rescue and lead other Americans to safety. And last night, when I spoke with the President of Libya, he strongly condemned the violence and pledged every effort to protect our people and pursue those responsible.
The friendship between our countries, borne out of shared struggle, will not be another casualty of this attack. A free and stable Libya is still in America’s interest and security, and we will not turn our back on that, nor will we rest until those responsible for these attacks are found and brought to justice. We are working closely with the Libyan authorities to move swiftly and surely. We are also working with partners around the world to safeguard other American embassies, consulates, and citizens.
There will be more time later to reflect, but today, we have work to do. There is no higher priority than protecting our men and women wherever they serve. We are working to determine the precise motivations and methods of those who carried out this assault. Some have sought to justify this vicious behavior, along with the protest that took place at our Embassy in Cairo yesterday, as a response to inflammatory material posted on the internet. America’s commitment to religious tolerance goes back to the very beginning of our nation. But let me be clear – there is no justification for this, none. Violence like this is no way to honor religion or faith. And as long as there are those who would take innocent life in the name of God, the world will never know a true and lasting peace.
It is especially difficult that this happened on September 11th. It’s an anniversary that means a great deal to all Americans. Every year on that day, we are reminded that our work is not yet finished, that the job of putting an end to violent extremism and building a safe and stable world continues. But September 11th means even more than that. It is a day on which we remember thousands of American heroes, the bonds that connect all Americans, wherever we are on this Earth, and the values that see us through every storm. And now it is a day on which we will remember Sean, Chris, and their colleagues.
May God bless them, and may God bless the thousands of Americans working in every corner of the world who make this country the greatest force for peace, prosperity, and progress, and a force that has always stood for human dignity – the greatest force the world has ever known. And may God continue to bless the United States of America.
The U.S. Embassy in Cairo issued this statement Tuesday condemning the attack in Libya:
“The Embassy of the United States in Cairo condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims – as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions. Today, the 11th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, Americans are honoring our patriots and those who serve our nation as the fitting response to the enemies of democracy. Respect for religious beliefs is a cornerstone of American democracy. We firmly reject the actions by those who abuse the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of others.”
Update: The video continues to get viewers and is currently surpassing 80,000 views.
The trailer has been viewed more than 55,000 times, according to the counter posted with the video, and has tallied over 8,000 dislikes and 2,600 likes.
Comments on the trailer video itself range from calls for users to mark the video as inappropriate to those supporting the filmmaker.
The rhetoric in the comments is heated, with more than 9,000 comments already.
British think thank Quilliam Foundation says the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi was “a well planned terrorist attack” and would have taken place regardless of the protest against a movie that insults Islam.
The foundation says the attack was revenge for the death of Abu Yaya al-Libi, al-Qaeda’s second in command who was killed in a U.S. airstrike earlier in June. Here is what the foundation says:
- 24 hours before this attack, none other than the leader of al-Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahiri, released a video on Jihadist forums to mark the anniversary of 9/11. In this video, Zawahiri acknowledged the death of his second in command Abu Yahya and urged Libyans to avenge his killing.
- According to our sources, the attack was the work of roughly 20 militants, prepared for a military assault – it is rare that an RPG7 is present at a peaceful protest.
- According to our sources, the attack against the Consulate had two waves. The first attack led to US officials being evacuated from the consulate by Libyan security forces, only for the second wave to be launched against U.S. officials after they were kept in a secure location.
You can find the full press release from Quilliam and a statement from its president here.
The death of the U.S. Ambassador to Libya in a rocket attack on Tuesday almost immediately turned into a major skirmish between former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney and President Obama, a reflection of a highly polarized election where every event is gamed for political advantage.
First in a statement late Tuesday and then in a hastily-organized press conference on Wednesday morning in Florida, Romney sought to cast the incident as an example of the mixed messaging and flawed foreign policy approach of the Obama Administration — seizing on the fact that the American embassy in Cairo, where there had also been protestsTuesday, had released a statement condemning “continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims – as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions.”
Romney’s decision to condemn the White House for allegedly apologizing is a clear play to the Republican base, which has believed almost since the minute Obama took office that he has been more willing to make excuses for our enemies than stand up for America.
Washington Post staff writer William Branigin writes:
President Obama said Wednesday morning that the United States “condemns in the strongest possible terms this outrageous and shocking attack” on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi and is working with the Libyan government to secure U.S. diplomats and bring the attackers to justice.
Appearing with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton in the White House Rose Garden, Obama said: “We reject all efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others, but there is absolutely no justification to this type of senseless violence. None. The world must stand together to unequivocally reject these brutal attacks.”
He said many Libyans have already joined that stand, and he vowed, “This attack will not break the bonds between the Untied States and Libya.”
Obama added: “We will not waver in our commitment to see that justice is done for this terrible act. And make no mistake, justice will be done.”
In an earlier appearance at the State Department, Clinton called the attackers a “small and savage group,” praised the response by the Libyan government and people to the violence, and said the assault would not deter the United States from helping Libya become free and stable.
“This is an attack that should shock the conscience of people of all faiths around the world,” Clinton said in a solemn speech. “We condemn in the strongest possible terms this senseless act of violence.”
“Today many Americans are asking — indeed I asked myself — how could this happen,” she said. “How could this happen in a country we helped liberate, in a city we helped save from destruction? This question reflects just how complicated and, at times, how confounding, the world can be. But we must be clear-eyed even in our grief. This was an attack by a small and savage group, not by the people or government of Libya.”
She said Libyans had helped to repel the attackers and lead other Americans to safety, and that Libya’s president pledged to pursue those responsible.
Stressing that “a free and stable Libya” is in the U.S. interest, Clinton said, “We will not turn our back on that. Nor will we rest until those responsible for these attacks are found and brought to justice.” She said some people have sought to justify the violence as “a response to inflammatory material posted on the Internet.”
She added: “There is no justification for this…. Violence like this is no way to honor religion or faith, and as long as there are those who would take innocent life in the name of God, the world will never know a true and lasting peace.”
Clinton recalled that she had asked Stevens to be the U.S. envoy to the Libyan rebels in the early days of last year’s revolution against longtime strongman Moammar Gaddafi. Stevens “risked his life to stop a tyrant, then gave his life trying to build a better Libya,” she said.
She said Sean Smith, who was also killed in the attack, was an Air Force veteran who was on a temporary assignment to Libya as a Foreign Service information management officer.
Mitt Romney criticized President Obama’s response to the attacks in Libya. Read more about his criticism and read a transcript from the press conference below.
I also believe the administration was wrong to stand by a statement sympathizing with those who had breached our embassy in Egypt, instead of condemning their actions. It’s never too early for the United States government to condemn attacks on Americans and to defend our values.
The White House distanced itself last night from the statement, saying it wasn’t cleared by Washington. That reflects the mixed signals they’re sending to the world.
Foreign Service Information Management Officer Sean Smith was among those killed in the attack in Libya. He was a 10-year veteran of the State Department, a husband and a father of two — and an avid player of the online game EVE, where he went by the screen name “Vile Rat.”
A fellow gamer with the screen name The_Mittani posted a tribute to Smith on his Web site Wednesday:
“I’m clearly in shock as I write this as everything is buzzing around my head funnily and I feel kind of dead inside…Sean was a great guy and he was an [expletive] master at this game we all play… It seems kind of trivial to praise [him] for his skills in an internet spaceship game but that’s how most of us know him, so there you go.”
He added that Smith had talked with his fellow gamers about the dangerous situations he often faced:
“We knew that Vile Rat was in Benghazi; he told us. He commented on how they use guns to celebrate weddings and how there was a constant susurrus of weaponry in the background.”
Washington Post Pakistan Bureau Chief Richard Leiby reports:
Although the Reuters news agency quoted a Communications Ministry official as saying that Afghanistan had shut down YouTube so that the controversial video could not be viewed there, Amal Faizi, a spokesman for President Hamid Karzai, said the report was false.
“YouTube access is not blocked in Afghanistan,” said Amal Faizi, chief spokesman for President Hamid Karzai.
The movie trailer, in both its brief and 14-minute form, was readily accessible on YouTube throughout the day in Kabul and also into the evening.
Washington Post reporter Tara Bahrampour has this report from an earlier interview with slain U.S. Ambassador John Christopher Stevens:
On the small, violent Islamist groups in Libya that are not engaging in elections: “These are for the most part new groups that are emerging after the revolution and the Libyans themselves don’t know who they are. Some of these groups are probably forming out of the militias that grew out of the revolution, and they have access to arms, so that is troubling…The Libyans are well aware of the problem, and they are devising Libyan ways to deal with it. In Derna they put the Abu Salim brigade in charge of security. It’s like a test, to see how they do in the position of accountability to the public and to play a positive role in society.”
On whether the National Transitional Council should have talked more with the international community early on about the existence of these groups: “Everyone back then was focused on the goal – getting rid of Gaddafi – and in the early days, defending themselves from attack. They didn’t view these groups as very many or constituting a serious threat. Now there’s a different set of goals and an open political process, and so the differences in their views and agenda are more apparent.”
On the recent series of violent incidents: “It’s a function of there being a lot of freedom and desire to express views and agendas. When people cross the line it’s also a function of a lack of strong state and police to enforce the law.”
President Obama departed the White House to meet at the State Department after his televised remarks on the slaying of U.S. Ambassador John Christopher Stevens and three other Americans in Libya.
Obama said the country would hunt down those behind the slayings, for which he said there was no justification.
Of Stevens death in Beghazi, Obama said it was ironic because Benghazi ”was a city that he helped to save.”
In a press conference from Jacksonville, Fla., Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney stood by his criticism of President Obama over the handling of an attack on the American Embassy in Egypt.
On Tuesday night, Romney called the Obama administration’s response “disgraceful” and sympathetic to the attackers in Egypt.
- Rachel Weiner
GOP leaders less critical than Romney
The death of Ambassador John Christopher Stevens and attacks on U.S. facilities in Libya and Egypt is prompting responses from Republican congressional leaders far different than the critical comments made by Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney in the hours after the attack.
- Ed O’Keefe
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s victory event in Jacksonville, Fla. was pushed back Wednesday morning so that he could first hold a press conference at 10:15 a.m.
Crowds of supporters were escorted out of the building to make room for reporters. Within minutes, the room was transformed for a formal press conference.
Previously, Romney called Obama’s response to the attacks “disgraceful.” He stood by his criticism.
Read more about Romney’s press conference and take a look at the tweets from reporters who were there:
This video posted by Reuters appears to show a group of men armed with Rocket Propelled Grenades (RPGs).
According to Libyan doctor Abu Zeid, Ambassador Christopher Stevens died of severe asphyxiation. Zeid told The Associated Press that he tried for 90 minutes to revive Stevens.
From The AP:
Abu Zeid said Stevens had “severe asphyxia,” apparently from smoke inhalation, causing stomach bleeding, but had no other injuries.
Washington Post correspondent Ed Cody reports:
Mathieu Guidere, an expert on Islamist radicals at the University of Toulouse in France, suggested Libyan salafists seized on furor over the anti-Islam video to incite a pre-planned attack on the U.S. consulate. The salafists, he said, were acting to avenge Hassan Mohammed Qaed, known as Abu Yahya al-Libi, a Libyan-born cleric who was a key aide to Osama bin Laden and who was killed in June by a U.S. drone strike in Pakistan.
Ayman al-Zawahiri, an Egyptian who took over from Bin Laden as al-Qaeda leader, on Monday issued a 42-minute video acknowledging Abu Yahya’s death and calling on Muslims, particularly fellow Libyans, to seek vengeance for the killing.
“With the martyrdom of Sheikh Hassan Mohammed Qaed, may God have mercy on him, people will flock even more to his writings and his call, God willing,” Zawahiri said in the video. “His blood urges you and incites you to fight and kill the crusaders.”
Military officials told CBS News a team of anti-terrorism Marines was being deployed to Libya to help secure U.S. interests in the country following Tuesday’s attack. The State Department said, however, that no Americans remained at the facility in Benghazi. State officials would not confirm how many Americans were evacuated, or to where.
- Jason Aldag
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said the attack that killed U.S. Ambassador to Libya John Christopher Stevens ”should shock the conscience of people of all faiths around the world.”
In a televised statement Wednesday, Clinton added: “We must be clear-eyed even in our grief: This was an attack by a small and savage group.”
She said the U.S. government is still trying to notify the families of two of the unarmed Americans who died in the attack.
California filmmaker Sam Bacile is in hiding after a trailer for his film reportedly sparked angry protests in Egypt and Libya. U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens and three American members of his staff were killed Tuesday in the violence.
A Cairo television host aired clips from the video on an Islamic-focused television station on Saturday, and the same video clips were posted online Monday, the Washington Post’s Karen DeYoung and Michael Birnbaum reported.
In the film, “Innocence of Muslims,” a cast of white actors posing as Arabs perform a “dialogue of insults disguised as revelations about [the Muslim prophet] Muhammad,” according to the AP.
- Muhammad was a fraud and a philanderer who approved of child sexual abuse.
- He is depicted having sex and calling for massacres.
- It compares Muhammad to a donkey
- It calls Muhammad’s followers “child lovers.”
- It portrays Muslim Egyptian characters as immoral and violent, according to the Atlantic.
Muslims find it offensive to depict Muhammad in any fashion. The film cost $5 million and was financed with the help of donors.
YouTube, for now, has said it will not take down the video, according to Times of Israel.
The State Department has listed six ambassadors who have been killed in terror attacks. Click here for more information on each.
–John Christopher Stevens, in Libya, 2012.
—Adolph Dubs, in Afghanistan, 1979
—Francis E. Meloy Jr., in Lebanon, 1976
—Rodger P. Davies, in Cyprus, 1974
—Cleo A. Noel Jr., in Sudan, 1973
—John Gordon Mein, in Guatemala, 1968
Two other U.S. ambassadors have died in plane crashes:
—Arnold L. Raphel, in Pakistan, 1988
—Laurence A. Steinhardt, in Canada, 1950
In a statement from a White House official:
“The President was informed of the Libya situation by NSA Donilon yesterday afternoon as he started his weekly meeting with the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs. The President was updated on both incidents several times throughout the evening and again this morning… The President was notified last night that Ambassador Stevens was unaccounted for and then notified again this morning about his tragic death.”
President Obama today ordered an increase in security for diplomatic posts worldwide following the attacks on U.S. embassies in Cairo and Libya, adding that he was directing ”all necessary resources to support the security of our personnel in Libya.”
CNN reported that Marines were being sent to Libya as well, but there was no official confirmation as of yet.
Here’s the full quote from Obama’s statement:
“I have directed my Administration to provide all necessary resources to support the security of our personnel in Libya, and to increase security at our diplomatic posts around the globe. While the United States rejects efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others, we must all unequivocally oppose the kind of senseless violence that took the lives of these public servants.”
Here is a selection of photographs of slain U.S. ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens, who colleagues today remembered for his upbeat spirit and ”that big smile.” Also included are images of the attacks upon U.S. diplomatic facilities in Cairo and Benghazi:
Stevens photo shown from April 11, 2011 (Ben Curtis/AP)
In a video posted to YouTube in May 2012, Ambassador Christopher Stevens introduced himself to Libyans, talking about how excited he was to continue to strengthen the relationship between the United States and Libya. He gave a short history of the path that lead him into diplomacy, and to Benghazi.