September 11, 2012

Pro-al Qaeda group suspected in attack in Benghazi that killed four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador

A car burns after it was set on fire inside the US consulate compound in Benghazi late on Sept. 11, 2012. (Getty Images)
• September 12, 2012 3:37 pm


A pro-al Qaeda group is considered the top suspect in the attacks at the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya that left four Americans dead, including Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens.

The group, the Imprisoned Omar Abdul Rahman Brigades, previously attacked the consulate in June of this year. According to CNN, sources tracking eastern Libya say the attack Tuesday was likely too complex to be the result of a protest over an anti-Muslim film:

Noman Benotman, once a leading member of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group and now based at the Quilliam Foundation in London told CNN, "An attack like this would likely have required preparation. This would not seem to be merely a protest which escalated."

"According to our sources, the attack was the work of roughly 20 militants, prepared for a military assault; it is rare that an RPG7 is present at a peaceful protest," Benotman said.

"According to our sources, the attack against the consulate had two waves. The first attack led to U.S. officials being evacuated from the consulate by Libyan security forces, only for the second wave to be launched against U.S. officials after they were kept in a secure location."

Sec. Hillary Clinton condemned the attack Wednesday, calling it an attack "by a small and savage group—not the people or government of Libya."

"There is no justification for this, none," Clinton said. "Violence like this is no way to honor religion or faith."

The attack had been linked to protests over an anti-Muslim film posted to Youtube; according to CNN, analysts believe the protests over the film were a diversion for the coordinated attack.

President Obama echoed Clinton’s remarks in a statement from the Rose Garden later in the morning.

"We reject all efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others," he said. "But there is absolutely no justification to this type of senseless violence. None. The world must stand together to unequivocally reject these brutal acts."

Prior to the attacks in Libya, protesters climbed the walls of the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, Egypt, tearing and burning an American flag outside, and ultimately replacing it with a black Islamist flag. Protests continued Wednesday at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo.

The U.S. Embassy in Cairo released a statement Tuesday condemning the filmmakers of the video depicting Mohammed for inciting the violence and "hurting the religious feelings of Muslims." The embassy defended the position on Twitter (the tweets were later deleted), before the Obama administration disavowed the embassy’s comments late Tuesday.

Republican nominee Mitt Romney also released a statement late Tuesday criticizing the response from the administration to the developing situation in the Middle East.

Romney defended the remarks during a press conference held Wednesday morning, in which each question asked was about the statement and its timing.

"I think it’s a terrible course for America to stand in apology for our values, instead when our grounds are being attacked, being breached, the first response of the United States is to be outraged," Romney said Wednesday morning. "The statement was akin to an apology and I think was a severe miscalculation."

Published under: Egypt, Libya, Middle East