President Barack Obama has condemned Tuesday's attack on the U.S.
consulate in Benghazi, Libya, that killed four Americans, including
Ambassador Chris Stevens.
The United States ambassador to Libya and three embassy staff were
killed after a mob stormed the consulate, angered over an amateur short
film that mocks Islam's Prophet Muhammad. According to U.S. media
reports, the short film was produced by Israeli-American and financed by
expatriate members of Egypt's Coptic Christian minority group. Coptic
leaders from around the world denounced the film.
With Secretary of State Hillary Clinton by his side, the president said
the American people have the families of Ambassador Stevens and three
other Americans killed in Libya in their prayers.
He detailed steps he has ordered to enhance security for U.S. diplomats
and personnel around the world, and said the United States will not rest
until those responsible for the killings are brought to justice.
"We are working with the government of Libya to secure our diplomats,
and I have also directed my administration to increase our security at
diplomatic posts around the world," he said. "And make no mistake, we
will work with the Libyan government to bring to justice the killers who
attacked our people."
Ambassador Stevens and the three other embassy staff were killed after a
mob, angered by an amateur American-made short film that mocks Islam's
Prophet Muhammad, stormed the U.S. consulate on Tuesday.
Barack Obama, with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, delivers a
statement in the Rose Garden of the White House, Sept. 12, 2012,
regarding the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya. (Official
White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)
President Obama said it was particularly tragic that the ambassador, who
took up his post last May, died in Benghazi, a city Obama said Stevens
had "worked to save" during the Libyan revolution.
Stevens' death was the first of an American ambassador abroad in more
than 20 years. The State Department identified Foreign Service
Information Management Officer, Sean Smith, as one of the others killed.
Secretary Clinton spoke earlier at the State Department.
"This is an attack that should shock the conscience of people of all
faiths around the world. We condemn in the strongest terms this
senseless act of violence and we send our prayers to the families,
friends and colleagues of those we have lost," she said. "This was an
attack by a small and savage group, not the people or government of
said the United States will continue to work with the government and
people of Libya, but pledged to bring those responsible for the deaths
Clinton said the relationship between the U.S. and Libya will not be
"another casualty" of the attack, and the U.S. will not turn its back on
the Libyan transition to a free and democratic nation.
The president of Libya's national assembly, Mohammed Magarief,
apologized Wednesday "to the United States, the people and to the whole
world for what happened."
Libya's Deputy Interior Minister Wanis al-Sharif told reporters that an
armed group attacked the premises in an "almost suicidal" mission. He
said the U.S. consulate was at "fault" for not taking adequate
precautions. But further details of the incident were unclear.
Earlier reports said several dozen gunmen from the Islamist group Ansar
al Sharia attacked the U.S. consulate with automatic rifles and
rocket-propelled grenades, then set it on fire. The Associated Press
reported that Stevens and his colleagues were killed when he went to the
consulate to evacuate staff.
In Egypt, protesters scaled the walls of the U.S. embassy in Cairo, tore
up an American flag and replaced it with an Islamic banner. The
demonstrators there — mainly ultraconservative Islamists — continued
their protest action through the early hours of Wednesday.
The protests coincided with the 11th anniversary of the September 11
terrorist attacks in the United States.
In US, attack resonates on campaign trail
The Libya attack and an assault on the U.S. embassy in Cairo have
entered the U.S. presidential contest between President Obama and
Republican Mitt Romney.
Romney says a statement from the U.S. embassy in Cairo appeared to
sympathize with attacks protesting the film.
At a news conference, Romney criticized the Obama administration.
"They clearly sent mixed messages to the world, and the statement that
came from the administration — and the embassy is the administration —
was a statement which is akin to apology, and I think was a severe
miscalculation," he said.
The Obama campaign issued a statement saying it was shocked that Romney
would choose a time when the United States is confronting the tragic
death of one of its diplomats "to launch a political attack."
President Obama says the United States "rejects all efforts to denigrate
the religious beliefs of others," and adds "there is absolutely no
justification" for senseless violence.
Obama said he is heartened that many Libyans have already joined in
rejecting such violence, and he praised Libyan security personnel who
helped U.S. diplomats.
President Obama later visited employees at the State Department to
express his solidarity with them following the deaths of the American
personnel in Libya.
Clips from the movie in English and Arabic recently posted on YouTube
show the Prophet Muhammad as a child of undetermined parentage and
portray him as a buffoon who advocates child abuse and extramarital sex,
among other overtly insulting claims.
The Associated Press reported that alleged filmmaker, Sam Bacile, is a
California-based real estate developer who went into hiding Tuesday. The
AP quotes him as describing Islam as a "cancer," and said he intended
his film to be a provocative political statement condemning the
The video gained international attention with its promotion by
controversial Florida-based Christian Pastor Terry Jones, who said
Tuesday the film was not designed to attack Muslims but to show the
"destructive ideology of Islam."
Jones triggered deadly riots in Afghanistan in 2010 and 2011 by
threatening to set fire to copies of the Quran and then burning one in
Tuesday's twin assaults were the first on U.S. diplomatic facilities in
either country, at a time when both Libya and Egypt are struggling to
overcome the turmoil following the ouster of their longtime leaders,
Moammar Gadhafi and Hosni Mubarak in uprisings last year.
It is not clear if the two incidents were coordinated.
Benghazi, a stronghold of Islamist extremists and cradle of the
revolution that saw strongman Gadhafi captured and killed last year, has
seen a wave of violence in recent months, including attacks on Western
targets, bombings of military buildings and the killings of army and
Egypt's Al Ahram newspaper reported that a spokesman for the Muslim
Brotherhood, the main Egyptian Islamist group, urged the U.S. government
to prosecute the "madmen" behind the video.
Also Tuesday, Egypt's prestigious Al-Azhar mosque condemned a symbolic
"trial" of the Prophet Muhammad organized by a U.S. group, including
At least 2,000 unarmed demonstrators had gathered Tuesday outside the
embassy in the Egyptian capital, including Salafist Muslims and soccer
fans who were involved in the political protests that brought down the
By nightfall, a group of protesters had breached the wall, destroying
the U.S. flag and replacing it with an Islamic banner. An embassy
official said no guns were drawn and no shots were fired during the
incident. He said all the employees on the compound were safe.