Last Update 23:48
Benghazi attack: US Marines deployed to Libya
As US dispatches anti-terrorism forces to Libya in wake of bloody embassy attack, Ahram Online provides wrap-up of latest developments from Egypt's turbulent next-door neighbour
Ahram Online, Wednesday 12 Sep 2012
Share/Bookmark
Views: 8199


U.S. consulate A burnt car parked at US consulate in Benghazi, which was attacked by gunmen(Photo: Reuters)
Libya: The U.S. Consulate in Benghazi is seen in flames during a protest by an armed group said to have been protesting a film being produced in the United States September 11, 2012.(Photo: Reuters)
Libya: Christopher Stevens, the U.S. ambassador to Libya, smiles at his home in Tripoli June 28, 2012. Stevens and three embassy staff were killed late on September 11, 2012,(Photo: Reuters)
Libya: Libya's Prime Minister Abdurrahim El-Keib (R) and Head of the national assembly Mohammed Magarief attend a news conference in Tripoli September 12, 2012. (Photo: Reuters)
The U.S. Consulate in Benghazi in flames (Photo: Reuters)
Libya's US ambassador Christopher Stevens

The US ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens, along with three other embassy staff, were killed Tuesday night following an attack on the US consulate in Benghazi, US President Barack Obama confirmed Wednesday afternoon.

At least five Americans and 10 members of the Libyan security forces were wounded as mobs, allegedly protesting against an anti-Islam film, stormed the US mission armed with rocket propelled-grenades. 

The cause of the deaths has yet to be revealed. However, a senior US official told CNN Wednesday that the diplomats died of smoke inhalation while trying to escape to the roof of the burning building after it was blasted by a grenade. 

The official added that several "valiant but unsuccessful" attempts were made to get back into the consulate and rescue Stevens  and the others, who had been separated from the rest of their team. 

US President Barack Obama issued a statement, Wednesday morning, "strongly" condemning the "outrageous" killing of four Americans and paying tribute to Stevens and his slain colleagues.

At a later press conference at the White House, the US president commented that "it is especially sad that Stevens died in Benghazi, as it is a city that he helped to save," making reference to the US ambassador's previous roll as envoy to Libya's National Transitional Council.  

Obama added that Tuesday night's events would "not break the bonds between the US and Libya."

US Forces deployed to Libya

The US president announced that America was stepping up security at their diplomatic posts worldwide. In addition, America ordered some 50 US Marines part of Fleet Antiterrorism Security Team, or Fast, to Libya in order to bolster security.

Wednesday evening, a senior US official told CNN that unmanned surveillance drones were expected to begin combing the Benghazi area for "jihadi encampments and targets" involved in Tuesday's attack. The FBI will also launch their own investigation, security sources said, and the Pentagon and other US agencies will review video footage. 

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton revealed the name of the second victim, father-of-two Sean Smith, a State Department information management officer who had served in Baghdad, Pretoria, Montreal and The Hague, in the afternoon. 

The identities of the two other officials, who are thought to be US marines, are being withheld while colleagues attempt to contact their families.

Speaking at the State Department in her second statement of the day, Clinton described those behind the attacks as a "small and savage group, not the people or the government of Libya." She added that Libyans fought to defend the US post and carried Stevens' body to hospital as well as helping other Americans to safety. 

The secretary of state went on to say that there was "no justification for this" and that it was "especially difficult" that the event took place on the anniversary of 11 September 2001 attacks on America. 

The ambassador had, according to Al-Jazeera journalist Suleiman Idrissi in Benghazi, been paying a short visit to the Eastern Libyan city, when the US building came under attack. The bodies of the dead, the pan-Arab news agency reported, were transported to the Benghazi international airport, to be flown to Tripoli and then onwards to a major US airbase in Germany.

Libyan embassy guards "lacked" weapons

In a Wednesday afternoon press conference, Libyan Deputy Interior Minister Wanis Al-Sharif admitted that the Libyan Interior Ministry "lacks necessary equipment and weaponry."

He defended the Libyan security forces guarding the embassy who were overwhelmed by the attackers, saying: "If the premises are attacked by a large number of heavily armed people, it is almost suicidal... It was imperative to withdraw the guards."

The deputy interior minister also confirmed that the Libyan authorities have launched investigations into the incident but that "it is very difficult as the number of protesters exceeds hundreds." Al-Sharif claimed "remnants of the former [Gaddafi] regime" were responsible.

Investigations underway

Following the deputy interior minister's statements, Libyan President Mohamed Al-Megarif apologised to the US "its people and the whole world" for the attacks, during a joint press conference with Libyan Prime Minister Abdurrahim Al-Keib.

"We condemn, reject and denounce what happened in Benghazi yesterday," Al-Megarif said, "we totally reject that our home soil be used as a stage for an act of revenge."

Neither the president nor the prime minister would disclose any details of the event insisting that all will be revealed when the investigation is complete.

Libya's leaders also announced that a joint committee has been established to follow up on security measures and to ensure that the perpetrators are punished. 

British Foreign Secretary William Hague, who was in Cairo Tuesday on an official visit to Egypt, also condemned the attack in­­ a statement Wednesday.

"There is no justification for such an attack and the appalling death of an US official," Hague said, pledging British support to the Libyan authorities.

Hague urged the Libya to take "urgent action to improve security" and to find those responsible.

Targeted attack?

The armed mobs that attacked Benghazi's US consulate and set fire to the building on Tuesday were, reportedly, protesting against a film ridiculing the Prophet Mohamed. The American-Israeli director of the 13-minute video entitled "Innocence of Muslims" has since gone into hiding

However, some doubt has been cast over the motives of the gunmen. US sources told CNN, Wednesday, that the assault was planned in advance and the attackers used the protest outside the consulate as a diversion.

It is not clear if the attackers instigated the demonstration or simply took advantage of the situation, the source continued, however they did not believe that Stevens was specifically targeted.

Growing violence towards diplomatic community

Tuesday night's events come after several attacks on consulates in Benghazi over the course of the last few months. 

On 21 August, an Egyptian diplomat in Benghazi was targeted by a homemade car bomb. On 18 June, a group of armed gunmen stormed the Tunisian consulate. A week earlier, a British embassy convoy, which included the Ambassador Dominic Asquith, was attacked by a rocket-propelled grenade.  

Following Tuesday's attacks, the United Nations Security Council issued a statement, reminding the Libyan government of the "inviolability of diplomatic and consular premises" and the "obligations on host governments" to protect the buildings.

For their part, Human Rights Watch, Wednesday evening, said the killing of the US embassy personnel was "wake-up call to the Libyan government on the need to rein in armed groups that have been defying the law in Libya."

Stevens, 52, had served in the American foreign office for 21 years and was envoy to Libya's National Transitional Council during the Libyan uprising last year. The last US ambassador to be killed on duty was Adolph Dubs who died in an exchange of fire during a kidnapping attempt in Afghanistan in 1979.

Protests occurred on the same day in Cairo, where thousands gathered at the US embassy and took down the American flag to condemn the anti-Islam film.





Short link:

 

Email
 
Name
 
Comment's Title
 
Comment
Ahram Online welcomes readers' comments on all issues covered by the site, along with any criticisms and/or corrections. Readers are asked to limit their feedback to a maximum of 4000 characters (roughly 200 words). All comments/criticisms will, however, be subject to the following code
  • We will not publish comments which contain rude or abusive language, libelous statements, slander and personal attacks against any person/s.
  • We will not publish comments which contain racist remarks or any kind of racial or religious incitement against any group of people, in Egypt or outside it.
  • We welcome criticism of our reports and articles but we will not publish personal attacks, slander or fabrications directed against our reporters and contributing writers.
  • We reserve the right to correct, when at all possible, obvious errors in spelling and grammar. However, due to time and staffing constraints such corrections will not be made across the board or on a regular basis.
15



expat
12-09-2012 07:37pm
4-
0+
after a good discussion
well let the intention of the film maker be,whatever it is... i had a long discussion with a islamic teacher over hadiths and suras,which the web gave me indicating the words "kill" and "infidels"...there are tons about that. and the bad part,they are authentic, not even the best sheikhs can change the words meanings,ok,they try alot there is no offence in sarkasm,there is no offence in irony,its time,if that comes up to reflect....if you can and wish it was no israeli producer killing the embassy diplomat,it was a crazed ultra moslem in lybia,or is this now also untrue? embassies are since the middle age the base of inter-state communications,if you kill their representatives,you should be banned of every future communications, barred behind walls,within you can then live,whatever you want there is only one party to blame,like it or not,its the aggressors party expat
Email
 
Name
 
Comment's Title
 
Comment
14



TT
12-09-2012 04:02pm
3-
10+
The Laughter
If Gaddafi were still alive, he would have his best laughter by saying "Americans, I told you so about Islamist militants".
Email
 
Name
 
Comment's Title
 
Comment
13



ak
12-09-2012 03:36pm
5-
4+
Crime against the US or against Libya?
US assisted in liberating Libya and encouraged the transition to democracy and sadly today they got their officials killed by criminals. This is yet another evidence that the new government is not in full control and there is demonstrated lack of security. The US government has no control over the press and film production etc because this is a free and democratic country. Books and films can be produced against any religion and current laws prevent western governments from interfering. One can only wonder when some people in the Middle East will realise this? If they do and still commit such crime then they have other motives which no doubt will not serve the interests of the Libyan people who lost a lot of their loved ones to free their country. This crime most certainly will not serve the cause of Islam. Peaceful demonstrations are supported and understood but this is where they should end peacefully under the law. Taking down and burning the flag of any country should not be p
Email
 
Name
 
Comment's Title
 
Comment
12



Dalou
12-09-2012 02:05pm
3-
8+
Why the West financing NATO Blackwater mercenaries in Libya?
Libyan Salafists massacring Christians in Syria are financed by US, YK, EU, UAE.
Email
 
Name
 
Comment's Title
 
Comment
Karim
12-09-2012 02:15pm
5-
2+
blame the victim is the name of the gaqme
the only on that massacres people is the Assad regime with the sectarian help of Iran and Iraq. What did the mahdi Army did to the christians after the invasion of Iraq?. But for people like you only christians and shias are considered as victims. What about Mohamed Al Khatib or the broken hands of Al farzat?
11



Hamid
12-09-2012 01:52pm
9-
21+
Reza
It's all because of Obama's policy. Arab world needs to be treated like how Bush did.
Email
 
Name
 
Comment's Title
 
Comment
10



Ray Gibbs
12-09-2012 01:19pm
3-
4+
U. S. Enbassies
Destiny (like it or not) binds us together. Peace
Email
 
Name
 
Comment's Title
 
Comment
9



Modern_Humaniora
12-09-2012 12:56pm
5-
12+
More to come
It's probably more to come of this dirty kind on the Internet. You have to prepare yourself. This was an act by a number of cowardly individuals who are, in their souls, so full of hatred against Islam. Please, don't sink into that swamp of hatred yourself. Just laugh at them. And you can't possible blame US officials for this mad film. It's not fair! A tragedy for all decent folks, and the most for the families who have lost their beloved relatives.
Email
 
Name
 
Comment's Title
 
Comment
8



Prabhath Ranathunga.
12-09-2012 12:45pm
2-
3+
Identifying & eleminating terroism cleary.
Super power Americans do not entertain terrorism of any country. They should realize how difficult the task eliminating terrorism even from a small island. Best example is Si Lanka. There duty as a big nation support the islands/countries eliminated terrorism ; not trying to punish/investigate on the basis of false propaganda or even the terrorism shades in American bases.They have to take correct decisions not the favorite decisions. This will be another lesson to think seriously. Anyway being a peace loving ordinary citizen from Sri Lanka I may take this opportunity to pass our heart felt condolences to the families affected! BUDUSARANAI !
Email
 
Name
 
Comment's Title
 
Comment
7



Lizzie Ubani
12-09-2012 12:43pm
2-
8+
Madness
This is madness, why killing? which religion is that?
Email
 
Name
 
Comment's Title
 
Comment
medo
12-09-2012 07:40pm
2-
2+
izzo!
@IZZO, You have no idea what you are talking about! When a neighbour is killed or raped (as you say) this is not done in the name of religion, What happened yesterday WAS done in the name of protecting Islam, These people know nothing of Islam, as for associating both as the same (your comment) Muslims all over the world have suffered after 9/11 by stupid people thinking in the same was and associating all Muslims as being the same, This is a dangerous road to take cos not everyone is the same!
Izzo
12-09-2012 03:16pm
4-
8+
What madness??
Well this is the world religion my dear. Do you ask what religion is that when your neighbour is killed or raped. American preach peace but kill everything that stands in their way. I agree its not the Americans fault but the man is israeli out of california and with the americans blind support to Israel, people will associate both as the same.
6



Karim
12-09-2012 12:42pm
13-
1+
Gaddafi Loyalist or Assad spys
This shameful attack is either initiated by Gaddafi Loyalist or Assad`s spy`s. My condolences to the family of the victim.
Email
 
Name
 
Comment's Title
 
Comment

© 2010 Ahram Online. Advertising