Libyan National Charged in 2012 Attack on U.S. Special Mission and Annex in #Benghazi

Posted: 2:22 am ET
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Media reports say that U.S. special forces have captured a militant who was allegedly involved in the 2012 deadly attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound and CIA annex in Benghazi, Libya.  The suspect has been identified as Mustafa al-Imam. An unnamed official told the AP that the suspect was captured in Misrata, on the north coast of Libya and was taken to a U.S. Navy ship at the Misrata port for transport to the United States.

Per DOJ announcement:

Mustafa al-Imam, a Libyan national approximately 46 years old, has been charged for his alleged participation in the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. Special Mission and Annex in Benghazi, Libya, which resulted in the deaths of four Americans.

“The murder of four Americans in Benghazi on September 11, 2012 was a barbaric crime that shocked the American people. We will never forget those we lost – Tyrone Woods, Sean Smith, Glen Doherty and Ambassador Christopher Stevens – four brave Americans who gave their lives in service to our nation,” said Attorney General Jeff Sessions.  “We owe it to them and their families to bring their murderers to justice. Today the Department of Justice announces a major step forward in our ongoing investigation as Mustafa al-Imam is now in custody and will face justice in federal court for his role in the attack.  I am grateful to the FBI, our partners in the intelligence community and the Department of Defense who made this apprehension possible.  The United States will continue to investigate and identify all those who were involved in the attack – and we will hold them accountable for their crimes.”

“The apprehension of Mustafa al-Imam demonstrates our unwavering commitment to holding accountable all of those responsible for the murders of four brave Americans in a terrorist attack in Benghazi,” said U.S. Attorney Jessie K. Liu for the District of Columbia.  “Together with our law enforcement partners, we will do all that we can to pursue justice against those who commit terrorist acts against the United States, no matter how far we must go and how long it takes.”

Mustafa al-Imam is charged in a recently unsealed three-count criminal complaint.  The complaint, which was filed under seal on May 19, 2015, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, charges al-Imam with:

  • Killing a person in the course of an attack on a federal facility involving the use of a firearm and dangerous weapon and attempting and conspiring to do the same.
  • Providing, attempting and conspiring to provide material support to terrorists resulting in death.
  • Discharging, brandishing, using, carrying and possession of a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence.Al-Imam is in U.S. custody, and upon his arrival to the U.S. he will be presented before a federal judge in Washington, D.C.

Read the full announcement here.

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Inbox: A Note From an Unarmed Diplomat

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–Domani Spero

We received the following via email from an “unarmed diplomat” who wrote, “I knew Sean, so this is personal with me.”

“I am not surprised that State ignored post’s requests for security.  I am even less surprised that Amb. Stevens wanted to put his “boots on the ground” there – which meant that others had to follow him there.  Beginning with Condi Rice this notion that diplomats could do “expeditionary diplomacy” has been increasingly ill-advised and terrifying.  Diplomats, unlike the military, are neither trained nor equipped to be in the middle of armed insurrection, yet the path to promotion is through such assignments.  So long as promotions and onward assignments are linked to danger posts, then there will be pressure for State personnel to be in those places and for warnings and trip lines to be ignored.  So long as danger is a “glorified career cone” (so to speak) then career ambassadors will push to be in such places, dragging their staff along.”

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Admiral Mullen on How ARB Benghazi Defined “Systemic Failure”

— By Domani Spero

We’re just wading into the recently posted 160-page transcript of Admiral Mullen’s interview with the Oversight Committee which was conducted back on June 19, 2013.  Below is an excerpt from the Transcript of Interview (see p.107) where he was asked how the Accountability Review Board defined “systemic failure.” Read and see if you can find the hole:

Q: How did the board define systemic failure? And does that imply a failure throughout the whole system?

A: I think if I were going to — if I were going to describe systemic in that way, it’s both in sort of depth and breadth. And if I were going to pick a time to start it, it would be right about the time that Benghazi — maybe a month or two before the memo that Under Secretary Kennedy signed to extend it for a year. And over the course of that, let’s say, 9, 10 months, there were failures tied to, in particular, creating a security platform that would give it a chance, if you will.

What is — and that included personnel policy. So the short duration, TDYs from very junior, inexperienced people who actually wanted to go there because they knew it was good for their career, who didn’t get the right kind of training, didn’t have it when they went, for example; systemic again with — in Sean Smith’s case, who was the IMO, basically the communicator, but IMO is really the management officer, and that’s a broader set of skills that you’re supposed to have to manage, to handle money and budgets and planning, not just be a communicator; to the churn that was created, which then didn’t — there was nobody to oversee sort of the systematic improvements in the compound from just a physical aspect. They did do some things with respect to security projects to improve the overall posture. I think the broad systemic, two bureaus, if you will, almost working separately in that sense in terms of security as opposed to working together, figuring out, you know, this is a risky place, what should we do?

Some of the — I talked about security projects from both inside the compound where the Ambassador was that night — inside — I’m sorry, the villa as well as broadly in the compound to include security inside, literally security projects inside. That there was, you know, a lack at very senior levels, particularly in Washington, of what I would call active interventionist leadership to make the right kind of changes. There was to a certain degree a failure on the part of the Ambassador to bring all these things together.

Excuse me, but IMO [information management officer] is not/not really a management officer.  An IMO is a specialist and different from a management officer who is a generalist.  The specialists including IMOs, medical officers, financial management officers, HR officers to name a few generally report to management officers.   It is not in an IMO’s career track to become a MGT officer, but it is possible for an IM specialist to rise through the IM ranks, bid on and receive a management job or two, and apply for conversion.

As IMOs get promoted, they typically become Information Tech Managers, they do not become Management Officers unless they go through a conversion in skills code.  Of the 24 Information Tech Managers who competed for promotion in 2011, only 4 made it into the Senior Foreign Service. The average length of service of those promoted was 24 years. (Read more in SBU Foreign Service 2011 Promotion Statistics Officially Published, Color Specialist Gets an “F”).

Now, Mr. Smith was an IMO from 2002-2012.  He was a tech guy; when did IMOs start having responsibility to “oversee sort of the systematic improvements in the compound?”

Also, Mr. Smith had been with the State Department reportedly from 2002-2012 and had served in our posts in Baghdad, Pretoria, Montreal and The Hague.  Presumably, his first two tours as is typical in the service, would have been two-year duration while the third and last tours were three years. So while he was on TDY in Benghazi, he was far from being “very junior.”

Admiral Mullen is citing this as an example of “systemic failure” but there’s a hole in this wall; the hole gave the wrong picture.

(Note: corrected to clarify that career progression of IMOs, with exceptions, do not typically include track to become management officers).

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AFSA Memorial Plaque Ceremony Adds Eight Names to Wall of Honor

AFSA’s Memorial Plaque Ceremony was held at the State Department today.  The ceremony was attended by Vice President Joe Biden, CIA Director Brennan, USAID Administrator Shah and Secretary Kerry who delivered his remarks here.  Excerpt:

The most important thank you that we can all give – and we do – is to the family members. I know this is a mixed day. It’s a hard day. It’s a day that brings back pain, but it’s also a day, I hope, of comfort and of pride in knowing that the contributions and the memories of your loved ones are a permanent part of the State Department, as strong as the marble which will carry their names for eternity.

Today we add eight names to our wall of honor, eight people who dedicated their lives to service. And to a person, each one sought out the most difficult assignments. They understood the risks, and still they raised their hands and they said: “Send me.”

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden, and American Foreign Service Association (AFSA) President Susan R. Johnson honor foreign affairs colleagues who have lost their lives while serving overseas in the line of duty or under heroic or other inspirational circumstances, at the AFSA Memorial Plaque Ceremony at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., on May 3, 2013. [State Department photo/ Public Domain]  Click on image to view video of the ceremony.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden, and American Foreign Service Association (AFSA) President Susan R. Johnson honor foreign affairs colleagues who have lost their lives while serving overseas in the line of duty or under heroic or other inspirational circumstances, at the AFSA Memorial Plaque Ceremony at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., on May 3, 2013. [State Department photo/ Public Domain]
Click on image to view video of the ceremony.

The ceremony honored the following individuals:

ANNE T. SMEDINGHOFF
Foreign Service Officer, died in Afghanistan from injuries sustained during a bombing on April 6, 2013.

J. CHRISTOPHER STEVENS
Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens was killed during a terrorist attack on the U.S. facilities in Benghazi, Libya on September 11, 2012.

SEAN PATRICK SMITH
Information Management Specialist, was killed during a terrorist attack on the U.S. facilities in Benghazi, Libya on September 11, 2012.

TY WOODS
Security Specialist, was killed during a terrorist attack on the U.S. facilities in Benghazi, Libya on September 11, 2012.

GLEN A. DOHERTY
Security Specialist, was killed during a terrorist attack on the U.S. facilities in Benghazi, Libya on September 11, 2012.

RAGAEI SAID ABDELFATTAH
USAID Foreign Service Officer, was killed during a suicide bombing in Afghanistan on August 8, 2012.

A lot have been written and said about the individuals above but two who were honored today were from 40 years ago.   And we don’t know much about them. So we are excerpting that from Secretary Kerry’s remarks:

Joe Fandino served in the Air Force during the Korean War where he sat on the “black box” during missions, meaning it was his job to blow up the plane if it got into real trouble. So he was a man who understood high-stakes situations. He also had a tremendous sense of humor. On his first Foreign Service posting to the Dominican Republic, he was riding with the Ambassador, who just happened to be his future father-in-law, and the rioters began rocking the car. And the Ambassador asked, “Joe, what do you intend to do if things get really bad?” And Joe didn’t miss a beat. He just leapt up and said, “I’ll jump out of the car, tear off my tie, and yell ‘down with the Americans!’” (Laughter.) Joe’s family and friends cherish those memories of his charm and his ability to cut through the noise. He died in 1972 while serving in Vietnam with USAID.

Frank Savage used to ride his Harley around Europe while wearing a Levi jacket with a big American flag sewn onto the back of it. He was proud of his country, and he wanted everybody to know it. Frank volunteered to serve in Vietnam with USAID, and when he wasn’t on duty, he helped defend a local orphanage from Viet Cong attacks. He was severely injured in the 1965 terrorist bombing of My Canh, the floating restaurant, but after a year, he volunteered to go back. And Frank felt he that had a job to finish, which is characteristic of every single one of these people. Sadly, he became critically ill from his original wounds and he died in Saigon in 1967.

You may read the full text of the remarks here.

The memorial plaque ceremony traditionally happens once a year, usually on the first week of May. Unfortunately, it has been the case in the last several years that a new name is added on the wall every year.

— DS

 

 

 

 

 

May 3, 2013: Foreign Affairs Day to Honor Eight Employees Killed in the Line of Duty

Via the State Dept:

Each year on the first Friday of May, the Department of State observes Foreign Affairs Day, the annual homecoming for our Foreign Service and Civil Service retirees. This day also commemorates the members of the Foreign Service who made the ultimate sacrifice and lost their lives serving the United States overseas. Both a solemn occasion and a celebration, Foreign Affairs Day recognizes employees of foreign affairs agencies and their dedication and service as they address foreign policy and development challenges around the world.

Over 400 retirees are expected to return to the Department of State on May 3 to participate in a morning program of remarks and seminars with senior officials to discuss key foreign policy issues, with a special keynote address from Secretary of State John Kerry. Hosted by the Director General for Human Resources, the Department will also present the Director General’s Foreign Service Cup to W. Robert Pearson and the Director General’s Civil Service Cup to Janice S. Clements, both of whom have distinguished themselves in their State Department careers and afterwards in service on behalf of their communities.

Alongside the seminar program, the American Foreign Service Association (AFSA), the professional association and union of the Foreign Service, is hosting its annual ceremony honoring colleagues who were killed overseas in the line of duty or under heroic circumstances. Known as the AFSA Plaque Ceremony, the event centers around the plaque in the Department lobby that lists the names of 236 fallen colleagues going as far back as 1780.

This year AFSA is honoring eight individuals whose names are being added to the plaque, bringing the total to 244 names. The family and friends of these eight heroes will be in attendance as the engraving of the names of their loved ones will be unveiled for the first time. Relating events in Vietnam in the 60’s and 70’s to more recent terrorist attacks in Afghanistan and Libya, this year’s honorees on the AFSA plaque are: Anne T. Smedinghoff, J. Christopher Stevens, Sean Patrick Smith, Ty Woods, Glen A. Doherty, Ragaei Said Abdelfattah, Joseph Gregory Fandino, and Francis J. Savage.

Vice President Joe Biden will preside over the ceremony and will be joined by Secretary of State Kerry and AFSA President Susan Johnson. Finally, on behalf of President Barack Obama, the Department is conferring the Thomas Jefferson Star Awards and Medals, as well as the Secretary’s Awards, in a private ceremony the same day. This year’s Foreign Affairs Day programs are a particularly special tribute to the increasingly challenging nature of diplomacy and development.

image from afsa.org

screen capture from afsa.org

Per 22 USC § 2708a, the  Thomas Jefferson Star for Foreign Service is awarded to any member of the Foreign Service or any other civilian employee of the Government of the United States who, while employed at, or assigned permanently or temporarily to, an official mission overseas or while traveling abroad on official business, incurred a wound or other injury or an illness (whether or not the wound, other injury, or illness resulted in death)—as the person was performing official duties; as the person was on the premises of a United States mission abroad; or by reason of the person’s status as a United States Government employee.

The first two names on this list, Francis J. Savage and Joseph Gregory Fandino died in Vietnam in 1967 and 1972 respectively. We have not been able to find anything on Mr. Fandino, but on April 18, Congressman Tom Reed of New York spoke about the late Mr. Savage in the House of Representatives:

Mr. REED. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recognize the life of Francis J. Savage. A resident of Olean, New York, Mr. Savage served his country admirably across the world for the better part of two decades as a member of the Foreign Service and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

Mr. Savage’s career in the Foreign Service began with an assignment in Iceland in 1950, but he was subsequently transferred to Marseilles, France where he met his wife, Doreen. The two continued to serve across the world, specifically Greece, Trinidad, Tripoli, and Libya.

Following his tenure with the Foreign Service, Mr. Savage began to work for the USAID. It was during this time that his work took him to Vietnam as a Provincial Representative. Tragically, Mr. Savage was mortally wounded at the My Calm bombing in 1965. To honor his sacrifice, President Lyndon Johnson posthumously awarded Francis Savage with the Secretary’s Award at the White House with his surviving wife, Doreen, and two children in attendance.

It is with great privilege that I announce Francis J. Savage will be honored on May 3, 2013, Foreign Affairs Day, at the Department of State in Washington, D.C. Mr. Savage’s service and sacrifice to this great nation deserves such recognition and I am proud to represent the district Mr. Savage once called home.

Mr. Reed’s statement is on the Congressional Record here.
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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.

* * *

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.

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Fundraiser to benefit the family of Sean “Vilerat” Smith

The fundraiser in youcaring.com is organized by Zack Parsons of Something Awful to benefit the family of Sean Smith who was killed in the Benghazi Attack. He left behind wife, Heather and two children, Samantha and Nathan.  Sean Smith was a moderator of Something Awful’s D&D forum under the username “Vilerat.”  The original target amount of of $100, 000 was quickly reached and currently stands at $110,953.85. The fundraiser has now updated its target amount to $150,000.00 ending on December 1, 2012.


Organizer : Zack Parsons
This Fundraiser ends on : 12/1/2012
Beneficiary : Heather Smith

Sean Smith was a veteran Foreign Service Officer of the US State Department. His life ended tragically on September 11, 2012 when the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya came under attack.

He was known to his many friends in EVE Online and the Something Awful forums as Vilerat. His intelligence, patience and good humor were the cornerstones of Sean’s life and those traits moved everyone he came in contact with. Sean was a devoted husband to his wife and he was a proud parent of two children.

To show our love for him and for his family we hope to raise money to help with their current expenses and his children’s college expenses.

Update: Because we are over halfway to our initial goal of $50,000 in less than 12 hours, we have doubled the goal to $100,000. Thank you so much for your donations. Every donation, large or small, will help Sean’s family.

Update 2: Sean’s wife, Heather, has posted her gratitude for the donations. She writes, “Thank you. Thank you so much. I do not know how to express my gratitude on behalf of my children.” She goes on to say, “I am so very touched at the love and support you all have shown us and I will read each and every post made in honor of Sean. Peace and love to all of you. Hold your family close and remember what is important.”

We have quickly passed our original goal and are more than three-quarters of the way to our second goal. Because of the speed of all the donations we are increasing our goal to $150,000. Thank you for all of your kind words and generosity.

The donations ranges from $1.00 to $1000 from anonymous donors, to Foreign Service members, the gaming community and strangers with no apparent connection to Sean. The notes are as simple as “RIP Vile Rat” to this one from Richard:

“Had quite a few unfortunate run-ins with Vilerat. Because of him I have never again undocked from a station without an insured ship and a back-up clone. Whether he was alone or backed up by his fellow Goons, he was fierce, intimidating, and almost always an adrenaline booster. He was the cause of my first lose of a ship… and a second later my first lose of a pod. In the skies of New Eden he was an inspiration to want to become a better pilot. In real life, we were worlds apart. Even so, looking at all these comments from friends and family I know that he is definitely a part of the “better man” group. Mrs. Smith, Sean was no doubt a loving father and husband and wish I could have known him. He was in fact a dear friend, and a strong leader, and to alot of us who attempted to hunt the Goons down or just happen to be at the wrong place at the wrong time, he was indeed a Vilerat. O7 Fly Safe Vilerat and forever R.I.P. Sean Smith. You will be loved and missed till the end of days.”

This one from somebody who is broke and gave $1.00:

“I’m utterly broke, but the current donation tally is ending in a 9 so I’ll round it up. I only played EVE a while and rarely shot blues, but Sean was a good guy. “

You have 49 days left if you want to help.  The online donation page is here.

 

 

 

What Really Happened in Consulate Benghazi? The Truths Are Out There, Lots of Them …

Updated 9/25

Patricia Kushlis of WhirledView has her own questions here.

One more question: What role did social media played in this attack?  I am told that Ambassador Stevens was scheduled to open the “American Space” in Benghazi, that’s why he was there. A day before the attack, the Embassy tweeted this:

In late August, Ambassador Stevens opened the Consular Section in Tripoli.  If bad guys were monitoring the embassy’s media digs, one could easily guess that the Amb or someone higher up in the Embassy would be the official to open the new American Center in Benghazi. In fact, the Public Affairs Officer and the Economic Officer were both scheduled to be there with him for the opening. So all the bad guys would have needed was to stay ready and watch for an opportunity to attack. –DS

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In the immediate aftermath of the Benghazi attack, UK’s The Independent reports that sensitive documents have gone missing from the consulate in Benghazi and the supposedly secret location of the “safe house” in the city, where the staff had retreated, came under sustained mortar attack.

An Angry Crowd and Security People Run Away

It also reported that the Benghazi compound perimeter was breached within 15 minutes of an angry crowd starting to attack it at around 10pm on Tuesday night. There was, according to witnesses, little defence put up by the 30 or more local guards meant to protect the staff.

Ali Fetori, a 59-year-old accountant who lives near the compound said: “The security people just all ran away and the people in charge were the young men with guns and bombs.”

Wissam Buhmeid, the commander of the Tripoli government-sanctioned Libya’s Shield Brigade, effectively a police force for Benghazi, maintained that it was anger over the Mohamed video which made the guards abandon their post:  “There were definitely people from the security forces who let the attack happen because they were themselves offended by the film; they would absolutely put their loyalty to the Prophet over the consulate. The deaths are all nothing compared to insulting the Prophet.”

Or There Wasn’t a Single Ant and Then There were 125 Armed Men

A Libyan guard at the Consulate in Benghazi (apparently one who did not run away) interviewed by McClatchy News in the hospital where he was being treated for five shrapnel wounds in one leg and two bullet wounds in the other, said that the consulate area was quiet – “there wasn’t a single ant outside,” he said – until about 9:35 p.m., when as many as 125 armed men descended on the compound from all directions.

Mohammad al Bishari who had leased the compound to the USG also said in the same McClatchy report that the attack began with assailants carrying assault rifles, rocket-propelled grenades and the black flag of Ansar al Shariah moving from two directions against the compound.

How did he know that? Was he an eyewitness?

Ambassador Rice on Spontaneous

On September 16, Susan Rice, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, said in an interview on ABC’s “This Week With George Stephanopoulos: “What this began as was a spontaneous, not a premeditated response to what happened in Cairo.”

Really now. This was five days after the attack. Surely Ambassador Rice, said to be in the short list as the next Secretary of State if there is an Obama II term could have waited a while longer. The State Department had already announced that the FBI is investigating; five days after the attack with no official presence on the ground, with the consulate compound not even secured by US or Libyan Forces to protect forensic evidence, how do we know that this attack was spontaneous or premeditated?   (The FBI arrived in Libya on September 18). I wonder what do you gain by going on teevee and saying this when the investigation is ongoing?

Blue Mountain Contracted Guards at Consulate Benghazi

On September 17, Danger Room reported that four months before the Benghazi attack, the State Department signed a contract for ** “security guards and patrol services” at a cost of $387,413.68. An extension option brought the tab for protecting the consulate to $783,284.79. The contract which is for the Local Guard Program lists only “foreign security awardees” as its recipient. But Danger Room has confirmed that the contract recipient was Blue Mountain, a British company that provides “close protection; maritime security; surveillance and investigative services; and high risk static guarding and asset protection.” (** Go to the Federal Procurement Data System and search of Benghazi to view contracts, site does not have permalink)

Libyan Officials on Warnings, Preplanned Attacks

In any case, on September 19, CNN’s Arwa Damon reported that Libyan military officials told her, that just three days before the attacks, the Libyans had a meeting with senior employees from the consulate where they were talking about this rising threat against western interests.  Supposedly , the Libyan officials said the meeting highlighted the point that the Libyan government could not control militias.

As if somehow that was news to the Americans whose compound was previously attacked in June and where one car was almost carjacked in Tripoli just a month ago.

Then on September 20, WaPo reports that Libyan President Mohamed Yousef El-Magariaf said in an interview on CBS’s “Face The Nation:”

“The way these perpetrators acted, and moved … and they’re choosing the specific date for this so-called demonstration, I think we have no, this leaves us with no doubt that this was preplanned, determined…predetermined.”

GOP Intel Chair on Non-Protest in Benghazi

On September 23, Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said on CNN’s “State of the Union: “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.”

But what did he see? Are they colored?

So of course, there are lots of questions

The office in Benghazi is not an American Presence Post (APP), and not a Consulate, Consulate General or Consular Agency.  It’s called the U.S. Office Benghazi and is not listed in the Key Officers of Foreign Service Posts, or in the State Department list of US embassies, consulates and diplomatic missions. And yet, there were roughly 30 personnel reportedly evacuated from the compound following the attack.  Who was in charged of the office? Other Government Agency?

Who knew about the location of the “safe house” in Benghazi? Who leaked the supposedly secret location?

What happened to the US contracted guards? Did they really run away? What were the nationalities of the US contracted guards? Were they Libyans, UK nationals, third country nationals, what? Who was or who were Ambassador Stevens’ closed in guards? Did he have a US direct hire RSO as one of his closed in guards or not? (WSJ reports that five armed State Department diplomatic security officers were at the consulate during the attack).

What happened to the Libyan guards who were responsible for the outer perimeter? Did they let the attack happen because they “absolutely put their loyalty to the Prophet over the consulate?” If they did not let the attack happen, how long before the Libyan forces reinforcement get to the compound?

How could the Libyan guard interviewed at a hospital tell that there were as many as 125 men attacking the compound? Did he count them while he was down?  Why was he shoot on the legs and not at any other part of his body? Were the militants firing at the ground?

Unidentified Libyan military officials tell CNN that they highlighted the “rising threat against western interests” during a meeting with consulate officials three days before the attack. Why? The rising threat is not a secret if you’re following Libyan news. Is this a CYA line of — we told them, we told them, and they did not do anything? Which consulate officials did they met?

Are people’s recollection of events generally reliable in the immediate aftermath of a traumatic incident like this, or are they generally reliable much later after they have thought about it some more?

Why would someone say there was an angry crowd and that guards put up little defense or ran away if that did not happen?

Why would  the reported commander of Benghazi Police force say that there were some people from the security forces who let the attack happen if that was not true? Did he not realized saying that sounds bad on the news, and makes Libyan forces look bad?

On the night he was killed, Sean Smith AKA Vile Rat was online with his friend The Mittani and wrote this:

(12:54:09 PM) vile_rat: assuming we don’t die tonight. We saw one of our ‘police’ that guard the compound taking pictures

If the consulate compound was so quiet that “there wasn’t a single ant outside” — why would one of the Libyan police guarding the compound be taking pictures? That would have been quite a boring picture, wouldn’t it?

And if there was already a shooting war with as many as 125 militants descending on the compound, and one of the Libyan police guarding the compound was taking pictures, was he no more than a spectator instead of doing his job of actually protecting the diplomatic compound?

Ansar al-Sharia, a hard-line Islamist militia has been linked to the attack on Benghazi; the group denied it. The Libyan President al-Magarief told Al Jazeera that he think this was Al Qaeda. Of course, his own Deputy Interior Minister Wanis al_Sharif also claimed during a news conference that those who attacked the U.S. consulate were Gaddafi loyalists.

Were the attackers Qaddafi loyalists? Were they Al Qaeda affiliates? If they are the latter, when was the last time an Al Qaeda group or subgroup passed up on a chance to gloat over dead Americans? Like never.  Are members of  Ansar al-Sharia the perpetrators of this horrific attack or are they the scapegoat for a collective national guilt?

I hope that the Accountability Review Board be convened quickly so they can start their work and provide answers to these questions and many more questions surrounding this attack.

Sean Smith died that night. He had no reason to spin what happened either way. But others sure have good enough reasons.

If this was a spontaneous attack, precipitated by the anti-Islam video clip, who gains?

If this was a premeditated, terrorist attack, who gains?

The truth is out there. The Libyan Government’s truth. The Libyan people’s truth. The American Government’s truth. The Dem’s truth, the GOP’s truth, this is an election year after all, so versions of truths is unsurprisingly de rigueur.

And somewhere in the middle of all that is the real truth.  I hope we get there. We owe it to our dead and their loved ones to find it.

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Transfer of Remains Ceremony to Honor Those Lost in Benghazi Attacks (full video)

Secretary Clinton:

This has been a difficult week for the State Department and for our country. 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. It is hard for the American people to make sense of that because it is senseless, and it is totally unacceptable.

The people of Egypt, Libya, Yemen, and Tunisia did not trade the tyranny of a dictator for the tyranny of a mob. Reasonable people and responsible leaders in these countries need to do everything they can to restore security and hold accountable those behind these violent acts. And we will, under the President’s leadership, keep taking steps to protect our personnel around the world.

Full remarks here.

Photo via C-Span
(click on image to view the full video)

President Obama:

I know that this awful loss, the terrible images of recent days, the pictures we’re seeing again today, have caused some to question this work.  And there is no doubt these are difficult days.  In moments such as this — so much anger and violence –even the most hopeful among us must wonder.
[…]
To you — their families and colleagues — to all Americans, know this: Their sacrifice will never be forgotten.  We will bring to justice those who took them from us.  We will stand fast against the violence on our diplomatic missions.  We will continue to do everything in our power to protect Americans serving overseas, whether that means increasing security at our diplomatic posts, working with host countries, which have an obligation to provide security, and making it clear that justice will come to those who harm Americans.

Most of all, even in our grief, we will be resolute.  For we are Americans, and we hold our head high knowing that because of these patriots — because of you — this country that we love will always shine as a light unto the world.

Full remarks here.

 

– DS

 

 

 

 

Consulate Benghazi Attack Victims Return Home

A most moving ceremony at the transfer of remains ceremony in a hangar at Andrews Air Force Base with President Obama, joined by Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and families, friends and colleagues of Ambassador Chris Stevens,  Sean Smith, Glen A. Doherty and Tyrone S. Woods.
Via CNN

This is a short clip. We hope to find the full video and post it here.