International Law

Fatal Sept. 11 Attack on US Ambassador to Libya May Have Been Planned, Extremist Act, Officials Say

A fatal Sept. 11 attack on U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three others at the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya, may have been planned in advance by Muslim extremists and inspired by al-Qaida, officials say.

Although many reported details of the attack have not been confirmed, and a White House spokesman said it would be premature to speculate about a motive, a number of officials and analysts said it appeared to be planned, and U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., who chairs the House Intelligence Committee, said on the record that strong evidence suggests this, according to lengthy articles in the New York Times and the Washington Post.

Stevens, a 52-year-old graduate of the University of California’s Hastings College of the Law, is remembered as a particularly able and well-liked ambassador. Personable, polite and upbeat, he initially worked as an international trade lawyer after earning his legal degree in 1989. However, as Stevens himself told the story, a former colleague recalls, he put his head down on his desk one day and said to himself “I can’t do this anymore.” In 1991, he joined the Foreign Service, the Associated Press reports.

Earlier today, as detailed in a previous post, news reports said the attack on the Libyan consulate appeared to have been sparked by outrage over a low-budget film produced in the United States that protesters felt mocked the Prophet Muhammad. However, observers now say that a Sept. 11 protest at a U.S. embassy in Egypt does appear to have been sparked by the film, but any similar protest in Libya may have been either circumstantial or used by attack organizers as a cover.

Additional and related coverage:

ABC News: “Slain Ambassador Chris Stevens Slipped Into Libya on a Cargo Ship During Revolution”

L.A. Now (Los Angeles Times): “Slain U.S. ambassador to Libya remembered for his languages, service”

Reuters: “Hezbollah condemns U.S.-made film of Prophet Mohammad”

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