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Archive for Thursday, September 13, 2012

Libyan security official: Consulate attack said to be 2-part militant assault

September 13, 2012

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— The attack that killed four Americans in Libya, including the U.S. ambassador, was an organized two-part operation by heavily armed militants that included a precisely timed raid on a supposedly secret safe house just as Libyan and U.S. security forces were arriving to rescue evacuated consulate staff, a senior Libyan security official said on Thursday.

In this Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2012 photo, a Libyan man holds a placard in English during a demonstration against the attack on the U.S. consulate that killed four Americans, including the ambassador, in Benghazi, Libya. Ambassador Chris Stevens and the three other Americans died in an attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi by armed protesters angry over a film by a California filmmaker that ridiculed Islam's Prophet Muhammad.

In this Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2012 photo, a Libyan man holds a placard in English during a demonstration against the attack on the U.S. consulate that killed four Americans, including the ambassador, in Benghazi, Libya. Ambassador Chris Stevens and the three other Americans died in an attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi by armed protesters angry over a film by a California filmmaker that ridiculed Islam's Prophet Muhammad.

A Libyan man walks in the rubble of the damaged U.S. consulate, after an attack that killed four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens on the night of Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2012, in Benghazi, Libya, Thursday, Sept. 13, 2012. The American ambassador to Libya and three other Americans were killed when a mob of protesters and gunmen overwhelmed the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, setting fire to it in outrage over a film that ridicules Islam's Prophet Muhammad. Ambassador Chris Stevens, 52, died as he and a group of embassy employees went to the consulate to try to evacuate staff as a crowd of hundreds attacked the consulate Tuesday evening, many of them firing machine-guns and rocket-propelled grenades.

A Libyan man walks in the rubble of the damaged U.S. consulate, after an attack that killed four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens on the night of Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2012, in Benghazi, Libya, Thursday, Sept. 13, 2012. The American ambassador to Libya and three other Americans were killed when a mob of protesters and gunmen overwhelmed the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, setting fire to it in outrage over a film that ridicules Islam's Prophet Muhammad. Ambassador Chris Stevens, 52, died as he and a group of embassy employees went to the consulate to try to evacuate staff as a crowd of hundreds attacked the consulate Tuesday evening, many of them firing machine-guns and rocket-propelled grenades.

Wanis el-Sharef, eastern Libya's deputy interior minister, said the attacks Tuesday night were suspected to have been timed to mark the 9/11 anniversary and that the militants used civilians protesting an anti-Islam film as cover for their action. Infiltrators within the security forces may have tipped off militants to the safe house location, he said.

He said an unspecified number of militants suspected of taking part in the attack have been arrested and that others were being closely monitored by police to see whether they are linked to a group. He refused to elaborate.

Ambassador Chris Stevens and another American were killed in the consulate during the initial violence, as plainclothes Libyan security were evacuating the consulate's staff to the safe house about a mile away, el-Sharef said. The second assault took place several hours later and targeted the safe house — a villa inside the grounds of the city's equestrian club — killing two Americans and wounding a number of Libyans and Americans.

El-Sharef, who was running the Interior Ministry's operations room commanding security forces in the city, gave The Associated Press an account of the night's chaotic events.

The crowd built at the consulate — a one-story villa surrounded by a large garden in an upscale Benghazi neighborhood — in several stages, he said. First, a small group of gunmen arrived, then a crowd of civilians angry over the film. Later, heavily armed men with armored vehicles, some with rocket-propelled grenades, joined, swelling the numbers to more than 200.

The gunmen fired into the air outside the consulate. Libyan security guarding the site pulled out because they were too few. "We thought there was no way for the protesters to storm the compound, which had fortified walls," he said. El-Sharef said Libyan security advised the Americans to evacuate at that point, but he says the advice was ignored. There was shooting in the air from inside the consulate compound, he said.

At this point, he said, the crowd stormed the compound. The consulate was looted and burned, while plainclothes security men were sent to evacuate the personnel.

Stevens, he said, is likely to have died of asphyxiation following a grenade explosion that started a fire, el-Sharef said. Ziad Abu Zeid, a Libyan doctor to whom Stevens' body was taken, told The Associated Press on Wednesday that the 52-year-old Stevens died of asphyxiation.

U.S. officials have said attackers broke into the main consulate building at around 10:15 p.m. and set the compound on fire. Amid the evacuation, Stevens became separated from others, and staffers and security that tried to find him were forced to flee by flames, smoke and gunfire. After an hour, according to U.S. officials, U.S. and Libyan officials drove the attackers from the consulate.

The next attack came hours later. Around 30 American staffers along with Libyans had been evacuated to the safe house while a plane arrived from Tripoli with a joint U.S.-Libyan security group that was to fly them back to the capital, el-Sharef said.

El-Sharef said the original plan was for a separate Libyan security unit to escort the evacuees to the airport. Instead, the joint unit went from the airport to the safe house, possibly because they were under the impression they were dealing with a hostage situation, he said. The militant attack coincided with the joint team's arrival at the safe house, he said.

That the attackers knew the safe house's location suggests a "spy" inside the security forces tipped off the militants, he said.

U.S. officials have not confirmed the account. They have spoken of an attack on the consulate's annex that killed two Americans, but said their report on the incident was still preliminary.

Comments

Flap Doodle 1 year, 10 months ago

What was your first clue, Inspector Columbo?

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Flap Doodle 1 year, 10 months ago

In other news: "...According to senior diplomatic sources, the US State Department had credible information 48 hours before mobs charged the consulate in Benghazi, and the embassy in Cairo, that American missions may be targeted, but no warnings were given for diplomats to go on high alert and "lockdown", under which movement is severely restricted...." http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/politics/revealed-inside-story-of-us-envoys-assassination-8135797.html

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jhawkinsf 1 year, 10 months ago

Captain Renault: "Round up the usual suspects".

It's an election year in the U.S. and if they want the money to continue flowing in, they need to make some arrests and to do so quickly. Will these arrests be of the guilty or just political enemies, who knows. But it's all a good show.

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Anthony Mall 1 year, 10 months ago

84' Libya killed a few Americans and Reagan bombed the hell out of a few palaces and we didn't here from them for 25 years... Obama just sent 50 marines??? Will these marines be allowed to carry live ammo?? Nice response Obama, that will scare the hell out of em'...

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Richard Heckler 1 year, 10 months ago

In 2001 Brownback submitted S.1465, which authorized Presidential waivers for foreign aid to Pakistan. S.1465 passed by a unanimous unrecorded vote of Senators present. The Pakistani Government utilized U.S. foreign aid in an attempt to bribe Mujahideen and Taliban militants inside that country. Taliban commanders and Mujahideen commander Nek Mohammed openly admitted that they intended to use the foreign aid money to repay loans which they had received from al Qaeda.

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