U.S. Embassy in Libya Was Aware of Potential Attack

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The U.S. Embassy in Libya was aware of potential threats days before violence there claimed the lives of four American diplomats, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens, according to a report in the Daily Beast.

A diplomatic cable obtained by Eli Lake “recounts how the two militia leaders, Wissam bin Ahmed and Muhammad al-Gharabi, accused the United States of supporting Mahmoud Jibril, the head of the Libyan transitional government, to be the country’s first elected prime minister” according to the report.

The dispute led to threats that militias would discontinue their security services to the embassy:

The threat from the militias underscores the dangers of relying on local Libyan forces for security in the run-up to the 9/11 military-style assault.  The U.S. consulate in Benghazi employed a militia called the “February 17 Martyrs Brigade” for security of the four-building compound. In addition, there were five Americans serving as diplomatic security and a group of former special operations forces that acted as a quick reaction force on the day of the 9/11 attack. Members of the militias led by bin-Ahmed and al-Gharabi overlapped with the February 17 militia, the cable says.

Jason Chaffetz, the Republican lawmaker who has led the House Oversight and Government Reform committee’s investigation into the 9/11 attack, says the State Department actually decreased U.S. diplomatic security personnel in the months leading up to the attack.

The cable, titled “Benghazi Weekly Report – September 11, 2012,” notes the dangerous environment in eastern Libya. It does not, however, make a specific plea to Washington for more personnel or more security upgrades, and concludes that much of the violence in the country consists of Libyans attacking other Libyans, as opposed to specific plots directed at the West. Indeed, it says that in a meeting with Stevens, members of the Benghazi Local Council said security in their city was improving.