In the Foreign Service: Death, Too Close An Acquaintance

This past week saw the death of a member of a local guard force at the US Embassy in Ankara.  Nomads By Nature who blogs from Ankara writes that the guard who died when the suicide bomber detonated the bomb at the embassy entrance, Mustafa Akarsu was a 46-year-old security guard at the embassy.  He left behind a wife, an 18 year old son, and a 15 year old daughter. “He put duty ahead and confronted the bomber in that initial checkpoint, hollering out a warning to the others as he did so.

This has been a reality for the Foreign Service, not just for the American employees and family members but also for the locally hired employees, and host country police officers tasked to guard our people and diplomatic facilities overseas.  AFSA has a long list on its memorial plaque of American officers lost dating back to 1780 when William Palfrey was lost at sea.  We don’t think there is a memorial plaque just for local employees. We lost so many of them in Beirut one year, and more another year. We lost many more during the twin bombings in Kenya and Tanzania.

Since 2008, this blog has attempted to keep track of the violent deaths related to the State Department overseas.  Since we mostly worked through publicly available material, we are pretty confident that we have covered FS employee/family-related incidents (missing, suicide, attacks).  We are also sure our list covering local national casualties are incomplete because those do not always make the news.

Apologies if we missed anyone.  If you know anyone not listed below kindly please add the information in the comment section.

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Feb 2013  – Mustafa Akarsu, Local Guard Force (Ankara, Turkey): investigation is still ongoing. Hurriyet Daily News has some additional details here.

Jan 2013 – Christopher “Norm” Bates, Foreign Service  (Johannesburg, South Africa): case is open and ongoing.

US Mission South Africa: FS Employee Christopher Bates Dead in Jo’burg

Nov 2012 – George Anikow, Foreign Service/EFM (Manila, Philippines): four alleged perpetrators are currently in Philippine court system.

US Embassy Manila:  George Anikow, Diplomatic Spouse Killed in Early Morning Altercation

October  2012 – Qassim Aklan, Foreign Service National (Sana’a, Yemen)

US Embassy Yemen: FSN Qassim Aklan Killed in Motorcycle Drive-by Shooting


Sept 2012

  • J. Christopher Stevens, Foreign Service (Benghazi, Libya)
  • Sean Smith, Foreign Service (Benghazi, Libya)
  • Tyrone Woods, Contractor (Benghazi, Libya)
  • Glen Doherty, Contractor (Benghazi, Libya)

Outrage! Ambassador Chris Stevens and three others killed in Benghazi, Libya

August 2012 – Ragaei Abdelfattah, USAID (Kunar, Afghanistan)

US Mission Afghanistan: USAID Officer Ragaei Abdelfattah, Four Others Killed, Two Wounded in Suicide Attack in Kunar

May 2012 – George Gaines, Foreign Service (Bridgetown, Barbados)

US Embassy Barbados: Death of the Regional Security Officer

February 2011 – Khairy Ramadan Aly, Foreign Service National (Cairo, Egypt)

US Embassy Cairo Local Employee Confirmed Dead with Three Bullet Holes

March 2010 –  Lesley A. Enriquez, Foreign Service National (Ciudad Juarez, Mexico): one gang leader extradited from Mexico


January 2010

  • Victoria DeLong, Foreign Service (Port-au-Prince, Haiti)
  • Laurence Wyllie, Foreign Service/EFM (Port-au-Prince, Haiti)
  • Baptiste Wyllie (5),  Foreign Service/EFM (Port-au-Prince, Haiti)
  • Evan Wyllie (7), Foreign Service/EFM (Port-au-Prince, Haiti)

State Dept Reports Death of FSO in Haiti Earthquake

Three FS Family Members Perished in Haiti Quake

September 2009 – James Hogan, Foreign Service (Curacao, Netherlands Antilles): still missing, more blog posts archived here.

James Hogan Case: A Royal Hurricane Shit Storm of Pain for All to Read

May 2009 Terrence Barnich, State Department  (Fallujah, Iraq)

US Embassy Baghdad Employees Killed by IED

February 2009 – Brian Adkins, Foreign Service (Addis Ababa, Ethiopia): a local man reportedly pleaded guilty to the murder but we have no information whether the murderer was sentenced.

One of Ours is Dead in Addis Ababa

January 2008 

  • John M. Granville, USAID (Khartoum, Sudan): convicted murderers still at large
  • Abdel Rahman Abbas, USAID/FSN (Khartoum, Sudan) convicted murderers still at large

How much does a US diplomat’s life worth? About $1,800 US dollars, and look there’s no raging mob…


For the Foreign Service, the six degrees of separation is acutely much closer.  As such, death is often too close an acquaintance.





How much does a US diplomat’s life worth? About $1,800 US dollars, and look there’s no raging mob…

UPI reported this week that on April 10, the Sudanese Supreme Court commuted the sentence of one of the convicted killers of US diplomat John M. Granville from a fine of 10,000 Sudanese pounds (SDG) to $5,000 Sudanese pounds (SDG) or face a one-year prison term in case of non-payment.

On Jan. 1, 2008, Mr. Granville, 33, and his driver Abdel Rahman Abbas, 40, who both worked for the US Agency for International Development (USAID) were ambushed and killed in Khartoum.  The local USAID employee, Abdel Rahman Abbas, was killed immediately.  Mr. Granville was reportedly shot in the neck and chest and died a few hours later in a local hospital.

According to news report, the Khartoum North Criminal Court had actually ordered Abdel-Rauf Abu Zaid Hamza, one of the four convicted killers and son of the leader of the fundamentalist Islamist Ansar Al-Suna Group Abu Zaid Mohamed Hamzah the fine of 10,000 Sudanese dollars. But then its Supreme Court obviously thought that was way too much for a killer on the run.

In June 2009, four of the five men convicted in the twin killings were sentenced to death by hanging while the fifth was sentenced to two years in prison apparently because his role was limited to supplying the weapon for the attack. Yep, because without a gun, the killers would have had used rocks and sticks, which would have been more messy. So supplying the gun was a lesser offense.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton then lauded the sentences handed down by a Sudanese court against members of an extremists groups accused of killing the USAID officer and his driver.

“I believe the guilty verdicts handed down today are an important step in bringing justice for John Granville and Abdelrahman Abbas Rahama, US Agency for International Development (USAID) workers murdered in Sudan in 2008,” Clinton said in a statement.

In June 2010, the four men who were convicted and sentenced to death escaped from the notorious Kober prison through a sewage pipe. This is reportedly the first time in the history of the Sudan that — not just a prisoner but four prisoners — succeeded in making their way out of Kober, long considered a maximum security prison.

“The United States Government expects that Sudanese authorities will apprehend these convicted murderers and ensure that justice is served for the men killed and their families” then US State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said in a statement.

In summer 2010, USAID opened the Granville Abbas School in the Sudan. Click on Part 1 and Part 2 for the opening videos. Part 1 is also embedded below:

In May 2011, one of the four who escaped from prison in 2010 after sentenced to hang was reportedly killed while waging holy war, in Somalia.  AFP identified Mohannad Osman Yussif Mohammed was one of the four Islamists convicted of the New Year’s Day killing of Mr. Granville and cited the father as the source of the death report.

In the long saga of these court-tried, convicted and escaped killers — here is what we know and don’t know:

Under the current exchange rate, 10,000.00 SDG (Sudanese pounds) is $3,745.32 in US dollars. The minimized penalty of $5000 Sudanese dollars (SDG) for Mr. Granville’s life amounts to $1,872.66 US dollars. The news item did not say if the Supreme Court’s minimized fine of $5,000 SDG includes the life of Mr. Abbas or just Mr. Granville’s. If one of the four killers indeed died in Somalia last year, and this ruling only mentions one of the four escaped killers,  we have absolutely no idea if the other two convicted and escaped killers will also pay any sort of fine or jail time for the Granville-Abbas deaths.

Did you hear that?

Radio silence.

Where’s the anger, or condemnation or some reaction of disappointment from US Embassy Khartoum, USAID Sudan, USAID, the State Department, the White House or even from our dedicated representatives in Congress?

In early April this year, NSC Spokesman Tommy Vietor issued a press statement saying that President Obama has authorized the use of up to $26 million from the Emergency Refugee and Migration Assistance Fund to respond to the unexpected and urgent needs resulting from the conflict in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states of Sudan.  According to the statement, the emergency funds will be used to support the efforts of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to provide lifesaving protection and assistance to the over 140,000 refugees who have fled the two states.

Meanwhile, FY 2011 USAID-State funding request (pdf) for Sudan amounts to $439.979 million dollars; the USAID website does not say how much was requested for FY 2012.

To summarize some basic, sad, sad truths here —

  • Sudanese militants killed two (2) USG employees in the Sudan in 2008
  • Four Sudanese militants were convicted and jailed in a maximum security prison in 2009
  • Four Sudanese militants escaped the maximum security prison in 2010
  • One of four escapees was reportedly killed in Somalia in 2011, while three remains unaccounted for
  • One of the four escapees was fined  $5,000 Sudanese pounds (SDG) by the Supreme Court in 2012, (equivalent to $1,872.66 US dollars in current exchange rate) or face a one-year prison term in case of non-payment.

Old news is dead news, and phuey! Doesn’t this make you so mad you want to shock and awe some place like Genghis Khan?  Phuey!

Domani Spero