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2012 Benghazi attack

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On September 11, 2012 in Libya, a heavily armed group executed an attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi. The attack began at night in a U.S. diplomatic compound for the consulate, and ended at another diplomatic compound nearby where the U.S. intelligence was posted. Those killed included U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other members of his diplomatic mission, U.S. Foreign Service Information Management Officer Sean Smith and U.S. embassy security personnel Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods. Two other Americans and seven Libyans were also injured. The Benghazi attack was strongly condemned by the governments of Libya, the United States and other countries around the world. Libyans held demonstrations in Benghazi and Tripoli, condemning the violence and holding signs such as, "Chris Stevens was a friend to all Libyans," and apologizing to Americans for the actions in their name and in the name of Muslims. On September 21, about 30,000 Libyans protested against armed militias in their country including Ansar al-Sharia, an Islamist militia alleged to have played a role in the attack, and stormed several militia headquarters, forcing the occupants to flee. On September 23, the Libyan president ordered that all unauthorized militias either disband or come under government control. Militias across the country began surrendering to the government and submitting to its authority. Hundreds of Libyans gathered in Tripoli and Benghazi to hand over their weapons to the government. The attack followed the mobbing of the U.S. embassy in Cairo, Egypt, which was in reaction to the anti-Islamic film Innocence of Muslims. On September 28, U.S. intelligence revised their initial assessment that "the attack began spontaneously following protests earlier that day at our embassy in Cairo" to state that "new information" indicated "that it was a deliberate and organized terrorist attack carried out by extremists." Questions about whether the White House should have stated or did state this conclusion earlier and whether the site of the assault was adequately secured before and after the attack created political controversy during the US 2012 Presidential election then underway. The United States investigation of the attack is being conducted separately by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the State Department, the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.

Chronology
Background
In an October 2 letter to Secretary of State Clinton, Darrell Issa (R-CA, chairman of the Committee) and Jason Chaffetz (R-UT, chairman of the subcommittee on National Security, Homeland Defense, and Foreign Operations) compiled a list of more than a dozen attacks and events in the 6 months prior to the September 11 attack—including car jackings, kidnappings, assassination attempts, and gun battles—all of which indicated "a clear pattern of security threats that could only be reasonably interpreted to justify increased security for U.S. personnel and facilities in Benghazi."

In April 2012, two former security guards for
the consulate threw a homemade "fish bomb" IED over the consulate fence; the incident did not cause any casualties. Just 4 days later, a similar bomb was thrown at a four vehicle convoy carrying the United Nations Special Envoy to Libya, exploding just 12 feet from the UN envoy’s vehicle without injuring anyone.
In May 2012 an Al-Qaida affiliate calling itself the Imprisoned Omar Abdul Rahman Brigades claimed responsibility for an attack on the International Red Cross (ICRC) office in Benghazi. On August 6 the ICRC suspended operations in Benghazi. The head of the ICRC's delegation in Libya said the aid group was "appalled" by the attack and "extremely concerned" about escalating violence in Libya.
The Imprisoned Omar Abdul Rahman Brigades released a video of what it said was its detonation of an explosive device outside the gates of the U.S. consulate on June 5, which caused no casualties but damaged the consulate's perimeter wall, There were no injuries, but the group left behind leaflets promising more attacks against the U.S.
British ambassador to Libya Dominic Asquith survived an assassination attempt in Benghazi on June 10. Two British protection officers were injured in the attack when their convoy was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade 300 yards from their consulate office.
On the day of the attack
, Al Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri declared that al Libi's death still needed to be avenged.
After the fatal September 11 attack, CNN reported that a Benghazi security official and a battalion commander had met with U.S. diplomats three days before the attack and had warned the Americans about deteriorating security in the area. The official told CNN that the diplomats had been advised, "The situation is frightening, it scares us." On September 14, CNN correspondent Arwa Damon found Ambassador Stevens' diary at the unsecured site of the attack. In it, Stevens expressed his concern about the growing al-Qaeda presence in the area and his worry about being on an al-Qaeda hit list. The U.S. State Department later accused CNN of violating privacy and breaking its promise to Stevens' family that it would not report on the diary.

The attack
The
Benghazi assault consisted of two separate attacks, one on the consulate that began at 9:40 pm local time and a second one at about 4 am on a CIA facility (an "annex") about 1.2 miles away. Ambassador Stevens, who was visiting Benghazi at the time, retired to his room at about 9 pm and about 40 minutes later gunfire and explosions were heard near the front gate. A Predator drone that was already performing Libyan surveillance missions was moved into position over the compound, which was protected by five diplomatic security agents and four Libyans who were members of a militia assisting the Libyan government. Large numbers of armed men shouting "Allah Akbar" stormed the compound from multiple directions and entered the building occupied by the ambassador, but did not see him as he had retreated with a security agent, 31 year old David Ubben, to a "safe haven" behind a locked metal grill. Before leaving, however, the attackers poured diesel fuel in and around the building and set it on fire. The security agent, who later said he was unable to see more than three feet through the smoke, led the ambassador and information officer Sean Smith to an exterior window. Ubben exited through the window expecting the other two to follow but they did not. A quick reaction force from the CIA annex arrived and attempted to secure the perimeter and locate the ambassador but were unable to find Stevens in the smoke-filled building. The team then decided to return to the annex with the survivors and Smith's body, which they did find. While en route back to the annex, the group's armored vehicle was hit by AK-47 rifle fire and hand grenades. The vehicle was able to make it to its destination with two flat tires, however. At the annex, agents took up firing positions on the roof as the building came under small arms fire. Eight reinforcements from Tripoli had arrived when the facility was hit by mortars at about 4 am. Ex-SEALS Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty were killed by a mortar shell while operating their machine gun while Ubben suffered shrapnel injuries and several broken bones. According to Ubben's father, "The first mortar dropped 50 yards short and the next two were right on target." At about 1 am the body of Ambassador Stevens was found by local citizens and taken to the Benghazi Medical Center. At the hospital Stevens was administered CPR for 90 minutes by Dr. Ziad Abu Zeid. showing Libyans trying to extract the unconscious ambassador from a smoke-filled room. Abdel-Monem Al-Hurr, the spokesman for Libya's Supreme Security Committee, said roads leading to the Benghazi consulate compound were sealed off and Libyan state security forces had surrounded it. The bodies were taken to Benina International Airport and flown to the capital, Tripoli, and scheduled to fly to a U.S. airbase in Germany. From Germany, the four bodies arrived at Andrews Air Force Base near Washington, DC, where President Barack Obama and members of his cabinet held a ceremony in honor of those killed. A U.S. Army commando unit was sent to Naval Air Station Sigonella in Sicily, Italy the night of the attack but did not deploy to Benghazi. After the attack, all diplomatic staff were moved to the capital, Tripoli, with nonessential personnel to be flown out of Libya. Sensitive documents remained missing, including documents listing the names of Libyans working with the Americans, and documents relating to oil contracts.

Recovery of Ambassador Stevens
A 22-year-old freelance videographer, Fahd al-Bakoush, later published a video showing Libyans trying to rescue U.S. ambassador Christopher Stevens from a room filled with smoke at the attacked diplomatic mission where he was found unconscious, which confirms reports that suggested the U.S. envoy died of asphyxiation after the building caught fire. According to U.S. officials, amid the evacuation, Stevens and foreign service officer Sean Smith were inside the consulate with a regional security officer. They got separated in the smoke. The security officer and others went back in to try to find the two of them and found Smith dead. They pulled him out but flames and gunfire forced them to flee before they could find Stevens. Seif Eddin Zoghbia was the general surgeon on duty at the Benghazi Medical Center when the ambassador was rushed in by strangers five hours later at around 1 a.m. For the next half hour, doctors and nurses tried to revive the body to no avail, said Zoghbia, adding that the ambassador died of asphyxiation and that there were no signs of trauma on his body. Dr. Ziad Abu Zeid later told The Associated Press that Stevens was nearly lifeless when he was brought by Libyans, Stevens had severe asphyxia from the smoke and that he tried for 90 minutes to resuscitate him with no success. Only later did security officials confirm he was an American and an ambassador. Stevens' body was later returned to U.S. custody.

Fatalities and injuries
Members of U.S. diplomatic mission who died in Benghazi, Libya


U
.S. Ambassador to Libya]]Sean Smith]], U.S. Foreign Service
Information Management OfficerGlen Doherty]]Tyrone S. Woods]]

Four
Americans died in the attack: Ambassador Stevens, Information Officer Sean Smith, One of the two Americans injured is David Ubben, a 31-year-old State Department employee. He suffered broken bones and other injuries in the attack and has been recuperating at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center outside Washington. On September 14 the remains of the slain Americans were returned to the United States. President Barack Obama and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton honored the Benghazi victims at the Transfer of Remains Ceremony held at Andrews Air Force Base, Joint Base Andrews, Maryland.

Aftermath
Libyan
response
Libyan
Prime Minister Mustafa Abushagur's office condemned the attack and extended condolences, saying: "While strongly condemning any attempt to abuse the person of Muhammad, or an insult to our holy places and prejudice against the faith, we reject and strongly condemn the use of force to terrorise innocent people and the killing of innocent people." It also reaffirmed "the depth of relationship between the peoples of Libya and the U.S., which grew closer with the positions taken by the U.S. government in support of the revolution of February 17." Mohamed Yousef el-Magariaf, the President of the General National Congress of Libya, said: "We apologise to the United States, the people and to the whole world for what happened. We confirm that no-one will escape from punishment and questioning." Libyans held demonstrations in Benghazi Ali Aujali, the ambassador to the United States, praised Stevens as a "dear friend" and a "real hero" at a reception in Washington, D.C., alongside Hillary Clinton. He also urged the United States to continue supporting Libya as it went "through a very difficult time" and that the young Libyan government needed help so that it could "maintain...security and stability in our country." The Libyan response to the crisis was praised and appreciated in the United States, and President Obama emphasized how the Libyans "helped our diplomats to safety" to an American audience the following day, while a New York Times editorial criticized Egypt's government for not doing "what Libyan leaders did."

Anti-militia demonstrations
On
September 21, about 30,000 Libyans marched through Benghazi calling for the support of the rule of law and for an end to armed militias. By early the next morning, the protestors had forced militia members to flee and seized control of a number of compounds, releasing four prisoners found inside. Protesters burnt a car and a building of at least one facility, and looted weapons. The militia compounds and many weapons were handed over to Libya's national army in what "appeared to be part of a coordinated sweep of militia bases by police, government troops and activists" following the earlier demonstrations. Some militia members accused the protestors of being Qaddafi loyalists, looking to disarm the militias in the wake of the revolution.

Government campaign to disband militias
On September
23, taking advantage of the growing momentum and rising anger against the militias evinced in the earlier anti-militia demonstrations, The government also mandated that bearing arms in public was now illegal, as were armed checkpoints. It has been noted that previously, handling the militias had been difficult as the government had been forced to rely on some of them for protection and security. However, according to a Libyan interviewed in Tripoli, the government gained the ability to push back against the militias because of a "mandate of the people." On the 24th, the government commenced with a raid on a former military base held by a rogue infantry militia. Across the country, militias began surrendering to the government. The government formed a "National Mobile Force" for the purpose of evicting illegal militias. On the same day as the declaration, various militias in Misrata held meetings, ultimately deciding to submit to the government's authority, and handed over various public facilities they had been holding, including the city's three main jails, which were handed over to the authority of the Ministry of Justice. Hours before the announcement, in Derna, the two main militias (one of them Ansar-al-Sharia) active in the city both withdrew, leaving both their five military bases behind. Hundreds of Libyans, mainly former rebel fighters, gathered in the city centers of Tripoli and Benghazi to hand over their weapons to the government on the 29th of September. However, the campaign has been less successful in other areas, such as the remote Nafusa Mountains, inhabited by the Nafusi-speaking Berber minority, where the Emirati news agency The National reported on 23 September that arms were being hoarded. The National also reported arms being hoarded in Misrata, despite simultaneous reporting by other outlets that militias were surrendering in Misrata.

U.S.
government response
On September 12 U.S.
President Barack Obama condemned "this outrageous attack" on U.S. diplomatic facilities and stated that "since our founding, the United States has been a nation that respects all faiths. We reject all efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others." After referring to "the 9/11 attacks," "troops who made the ultimate sacrifice in Iraq and Afghanistan", and "then last night, we learned the news of this attack in Benghazi" the President then stated that "as Americans, let us never, ever forget that our freedom is only sustained because there are people who are willing to fight for it, to stand up for it, and in some cases, lay down their lives for it." He then went on to say, "no acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation, alter that character, or eclipse the light of the values that we stand for. Today we mourn four more Americans who represent the very best of the United States of America. 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." After the attack, Obama ordered that security be increased at all such facilities worldwide. A 50-member Marine FAST team was sent to Libya to "bolster security." It was announced that the FBI would investigate the possibility of the attack being planned. U.S. officials said surveillance over Libya would increase, including the use of unmanned drones, to "hunt for the attackers." Secretary of State Clinton also made a statement on September 12, describing the perpetrators as "heavily armed militants" and "a small and savage group - not the people or government of Libya." She also reaffirmed "America’s commitment to religious tolerance" and said "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," but whether true or not, that was not a justification for violence. On September 13 it was reported that the United States Navy dispatched two ''Arleigh Burke'' class destroyers, the [[USS McFaul (DDG-74)|USS McFaul]] and the [[USS Laboon (DDG-58)|USS Laboon]], to the Libyan coast. The destroyers are equipped with Tomahawk cruise missiles. American UAVs were also sent to fly over Libya to search for the perpetrators of the attack. In a speech on September 13 in Golden, Colorado, President Obama paid tribute to the four Americans "killed in an attack on our diplomatic post in Libya," stating, "We enjoy our security and our liberty because of the sacrifices they make...I want people around the world to hear me: To all those who would do us harm, no act of terror will go unpunished. It will not dim the light of the values that we proudly present to the rest of the world." In his press briefing on September 14, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters that "we don't have and did not have concrete evidence to suggest that this Benghazi attack was not in reaction to the film." On September 14 the remains of the slain Americans were returned to the U.S. President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton attended the ceremony. In her remarks Clinton said, "One young woman, her head covered and her eyes haunted with sadness, held up a handwritten sign that said 'Thugs and killers don’t represent Benghazi nor Islam.' The President of the Palestinian Authority, who worked closely with Chris when he served in Jerusalem, sent me a letter remembering his energy and integrity, and deploring – and I quote – 'an act of ugly terror.' She went on to say: "We’ve seen the heavy assault on our post in Benghazi that took the lives of those brave men. We’ve seen rage and violence directed at American embassies over an awful internet video that we had nothing to do with." A report prepared by the CIA on Sept. 15, stated “The currently available information suggests that the demonstrations in Benghazi were spontaneously inspired by the protests at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo and evolved into a direct assault against the U.S. Consulate and subsequently its annex. There are indications that extremists participated in the violent demonstrations.” On September 16 the U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice appeared on five major interview shows, stating that the attacks began as a "spontaneous reaction" to "a hateful and offensive video that was widely disseminated throughout the Arab and Muslim world." "I think it's clear that there were extremist elements that joined in and escalated the violence. Whether they were al Qaeda affiliates, whether they were Libyan-based extremists or al Qaeda itself I think is one of the things we'll have to determine." In a White House press briefing on September 18, press secretary Jay Carney explained the attack to reporters: "I’m saying that based on information that we -- our initial information, and that includes all information -- we saw no evidence to back up claims by others that this was a preplanned or premeditated attack; that we saw evidence that it was sparked by the reaction to this video. And that is what we know thus far based on the evidence, concrete evidence." On September 20, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney answered a question about an open hearing with the National Counterterrorism Center Director, Matthew G. Olsen, which referenced which extremist groups might have been involved. Carney said, "It is, I think, self-evident that what happened in Benghazi was a terrorist attack. Our embassy was attacked violently, and the result was four deaths of American officials. So, again, that’s self-evident." On the same day, during an appearance on Univision, a Spanish-language television network in the United States, President Obama stated, "What we do know is that the natural protests that arose because of the outrage over the video were used as an excuse by extremists to see if they can also directly harm U.S. interests." In an address before the United Nations General Assembly on September 25, President Obama stated, "The attacks on our civilians in Benghazi were attacks on America...And there should be no doubt that we will be relentless in tracking down the killers and bringing them to justice." He also said, "There is no video that justifies an attack on an Embassy." On September 26 Clinton acknowledged a possible link between Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and the September 11 attack. On September 28, U.S. intelligence stated "In the immediate aftermath, there was information that led us to assess that the attack began spontaneously following protests earlier that day at our embassy in Cairo. We provided that initial assessment to Executive Branch officials and members of Congress . . . . As we learned more about the attack, we revised our initial assessment to reflect new information indicating that it was a deliberate and organized terrorist attack carried out by extremists. It remains unclear if any group or person exercised overall command and control of the attack, and if extremist group leaders directed their members to participate." To assist the Libyan government in disbanding extremist groups, the Obama administration allocated $8 million to begin building an elite Libyan commando force over the next year.

Criticism of U.S. government response
Republican Party members
took issue with the Democratic Party controlled administration, accusing the White House and State Department of overplaying the role of the protests against a trailer for a controversial anti-Islamic movie in the case of Libya and the government's alleged reluctance to label the attack as "terrorist". Representative Mike Rogers (R-MI), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, has questioned whether there were any protests at all in Benghazi, saying: "I have seen no information that shows that there was a protest going on as you have seen around any other embassy at the time. It was clearly designed to be an attack." According to critics, the consulate site should have been secured better both before and after the attack. On the 20th, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave a classified briefing to U.S. Senators, According to the article, senators were angered at the Obama administration's rebuff of their attempts to learn details of the Benghazi attack, only to see that information published the next day in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. GOP legislators also took issue with delays in the investigation, which CNN attributed to "bureaucratic infighting" between the FBI, Justice, and State. On the 26th, Senator Johnny Isakson (R-Georgia) said he "cannot believe that the FBI is not on the ground yet." On CNN's "State of the Union with Candy Crowley" on September 30, Crowley observed that "Friday we got the administration's sort of definitive statement that this now looks as though it was a pre-planned attack by a terrorist group, some of whom were at least sympathetic to al Qaeda," and asked the senior Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, Senator John McCain, "why do you think and are you bothered that it has taken them this long from September 11th to now to get to this conclusion?" to which McCain replied that "it interferes with the depiction that the administration is trying to convey that al Qaeda is on the wane... how else could you trot out our U.N. ambassador to say this was a spontaneous demonstration?... It was either willful ignorance or abysmal intelligence to think that people come to spontaneous demonstrations with heavy weapons, mortars, and the attack goes on for hours."

Investigation timeline
September 12 

September 13

September 14

September 15

September 16

September 17

September 19

September 20

September 21

September
23
A report
in The New York Times has stated that there were two facilities used by the Americans in Benghazi, one for the American mission and an annex a half-mile away and that:
September 25

September 26

September 28

October 2

October 3

October 4

October 5

October 9

October 10

October 12

October 14

October 15

October 17

October 18

October 19

October
20

October 22

October 23

October 25

October 26
Republican Senators John McCain
, Lindsey Graham, and Kelly Ayotte wrote to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, CIA Director David Petraeus, and Attorney General Eric Holder requesting they make public the surveillance video taken at the consulate during the attack.


Glen Doherty
Glen Anthony Doherty (c
. 1970 – September 11, 2012) was a native of Winchester, Massachusetts, Doherty was the second of three children born to Bernard and Barbara Doherty. He trained as a pilot at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University before moving to Snowbird, Utah for several winters and then joining the United States Navy. Doherty served as a Navy SEAL including tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. After leaving the Navy, he worked for a private security company in Afghanistan, Iraq, Israel, Kenya and Libya. Doherty was a member of the advisory board of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, an organization that opposes proselytizing by religious groups in the United States military. MRFF founder Michael L. Weinstein said that Doherty had "helped me on many MRFF client cases behind the scenes to facilitate assistance to armed forces members abused horribly by fundamentalist Christian proselytizing." Doherty's funeral was held at Saint Eulalia's parish in his native Winchester on September 19, 2012. Doherty's Celebration of Life was held in Encinitas, California the weekend of October 12–14, 2012. Doherty was coauthor of the book The 21st Century Sniper.

Mentioned in US politics
Doherty
's name was invoked by US presidential candidate Mitt Romney during the United States presidential election, 2012. As reported in the Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, The New York Times and other news sources, Romney claimed to have previously met Doherty at a gathering in La Jolla, San Diego. Romney stated that "'You can imagine how I felt when I found out that he was one of the two former Navy SEALS killed in Benghazi on September 11'...Romney did not identify Doherty by name, but his campaign later confirmed that Romney was referring to Doherty, 42, who lived in Encinitas, California. Romney said the death of Doherty, who was working as a security contractor in Benghazi, was an example of America's leadership role in the world and why it must be maintained." Soon after, Doherty's mother Barbara requested that the Romney campaign stop making mention of her son for political reasons saying "I don't trust Romney. He shouldn't make my son's death part of his political agenda," she told WHDH. "It's wrong to use these brave young men, who wanted freedom for all, to degrade Obama.”

Tyrone
S. Woods
Tyrone Snowden Woods
(January 15, 1971 – September 12, 2012) from 2010 worked as a security contractor protecting U.S. American diplomatic personnel from Central America to the Middle East. Woods was born in Portland, Oregon and was a 1989 graduate of Oregon City High School Woods also served with distinction at the Naval Medical Center San Diego as a registered nurse and certified paramedic. Woods was previously awarded a Bronze Star with Valor Device. He retired as a senior chief petty officer in 2007. Woods and Doherty were both decorated military veterans who served the United States with honor and distinction.

Mentioned in US politics
Senator Dean Heller
of Nevada issued an official statement following the killing of Woods who was a resident of Henderson, Nevada: ″I am deeply saddened by the death of Tyrone Woods who lost his life during the despicable attacks in Libya earlier this week...Tyrone’s dedication to this country epitomized the very best of this nation, and I am grateful for his service." There are recent reports that Woods's mother has been pressing officials for an accounting of the circumstances surrounding his death. As reported in Foreign Policy magazine, Hillary Rodham Clinton described the circumstances of Woods's death: "if not for him, the 30 people inside the consulate would not have made it out." Woods's actions was invoked together with the name of Glen Doherty by US presidential candidate Mitt Romney during the United States presidential election, 2012. As reported in the Chicago Tribune, Romney claimed to have previously met Doherty at a gathering in La Jolla, San Diego and praised his bravery. In addition: "Romney said he had read reports that the two former SEALS at the U.S. compound in Benghazi, Doherty and Tyrone Woods, were in a separate building and had rushed to the consulate building under attack. 'They went there. They didn't hunker down where they were in safety,' Romney said. 'They rushed there to go help. This is the American way. We go where there's trouble. We go where we're needed.'"

See also
Reactions to the 2012 diplomatic missions attacks
Ambassadors of the United States killed in office
References
External links
Interactive Map of Attack at The New York Times
Map of
Consulate grounds
Background Conference Call With Senior State Department Officials, Washington, DC, October 9, 2012



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