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obama vows to track down ambassador's killers, tightens security

Wednesday September 12, 2012    5:56 PM

WASHINGTON/BENGHAZI, Libya - President Barack Obama branded the attack that killed the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans as "outrageous" on Wednesday and vowed to track down the perpetrators, while ordering a tightening of diplomatic security worldwide.

The ambassador, Christopher Stevens, and the other Americans died after Islamist gunmen attacked the U.S. consulate and a safe house refuge in Benghazi on Tuesday night. The attackers were part of a mob blaming America for a film they said insulted the Prophet Mohammad.

The violence in the eastern city, a cradle of Libya's U.S.-backed uprising against Muammar Gaddafi last year, came on the 11th anniversary of al Qaeda's attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001. Another assault was mounted on the U.S. embassy in Cairo in which protesters, who included Islamists and teenage soccer fans, tore down and burned a U.S. flag.

Stevens, 52, became the first U.S. ambassador killed in such an attack since Adolph Dubs, the U.S. envoy to Afghanistan, died in a kidnapping attempt in 1979.

U.S. government officials said the Benghazi attack may have been planned in advance and there were indications that members of a militant faction calling itself Ansar al Sharia - which translates as Supporters of Islamic Law - may have been involved.

They also said some reporting from the region suggested that members of Al-Qaeda's north Africa-based affiliate, known as Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, may have been involved.

"It bears the hallmarks of an organized attack," one U.S. official said. However, some U.S. officials cautioned against assuming that the attacks were deliberately organized to coincide with the September 11 anniversary.

Security personnel were separated from Stevens during the attack, U.S. officials said, describing a chaotic scene of smoke, gunfire and confusion.

A U.S. official said Washington had ordered the evacuation of all U.S. personnel from Benghazi to Tripoli and was reducing staffing in the capital to emergency levels.

The U.S. military is moving two Navy destroyers toward the Libyan coast, giving the Obama administration flexibility for any future action against Libyan targets, according to a U.S. official. The military also is dispatching a Marine Corps anti-terrorist security team to boost security in Libya.

The violence in Benghazi and Cairo threatened to spread to other Muslim countries.

Police fired teargas at angry demonstrators outside the U.S. embassy in Tunisia and several hundred people gathered in front of the U.S. embassy in Sudan. In Morocco, a few dozen protesters burned American flags and chanted slogans near the U.S. consulate in Casablanca.

Obama said the world must unite against such "brutal acts" as the assault in Libya.

"The United States condemns in the strongest terms this outrageous and shocking attack," he said, while insisting it would not threaten relations with Libya's new government. "... And make no mistake, we will work with the Libyan government to bring to justice the killers who attacked our people."

Libyan leader Mohammed Magarief apologized to the United States over an attack.


Obama said he had ordered an increase in security at U.S. diplomatic posts around the globe.

The attacks could alter U.S. attitudes towards the wave of revolutions across the Arab world that toppled secularist authoritarian leaders in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia and brought Islamists to power.

The violence also could have an impact on the closely contested U.S. presidential race ahead of the November 6 election.

Republican Mitt Romney, Obama's challenger, criticized the president's response to the crisis. He said the timing of a statement from the U.S. embassy in Cairo denouncing "efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims" made Obama look weak as protesters were attacking U.S. missions.

Romney said it was "disgraceful" to be seen to be apologizing for American values of free speech. Obama's campaign accused Romney of trying to score political points at a time of national tragedy. Obama said Romney has a tendency "to shoot first and aim later."

Libyan Deputy Interior Minister Wanis al-Sharif said Stevens and another diplomat died as a result of the consulate attack, while the other Americans died in what a Libyan military officer called an intense and highly accurate mortar attack on the safe house.

Ziad Abu Zaid, the duty doctor in the emergency room at Benghazi Medical Centre on Tuesday, said he had treated Stevens.

"He came in a state of cardiac arrest. I performed CPR for 45 minutes, but he died of asphyxiation due to smoke inhalation."

U.S. officials said Stevens, information technology specialist Sean Smith and one security officer were trapped under fire in the burning consulate building.

The security officer made it outside and returned with help to search for the diplomats, officials said. The searchers found Smith, who was already dead, but were unable to find Stevens amid repeated exchanges of gunfire between Libyan security forces and the attackers over the next several hours.

"At some point in all of this ... we believe that Ambassador Stevens got out of the building and was taken to a hospital in Benghazi. We do not have any information on what his condition was at that time," a senior U.S. official said.

Stevens' body was later returned to U.S. custody at Benghazi airport, the official said.

Images of Stevens, purportedly taken after he died, circulated on the Internet. One image showed him being carried, with a white shirt pulled up and a cut on his forehead.

Two more Americans died when a squad of U.S. troops sent by helicopter from Tripoli to rescue the diplomats from the safe house came under mortar attack, said Captain Fathi al-Obeidi, commander of a Libyan special operations unit ordered to meet the Americans.

"It was supposed to be a secret place and we were surprised the armed groups knew about it," Sharif said of the safe house.

Western countries denounced the Benghazi killings and Russia expressed deep concern, saying the episode underscored the need for global cooperation to fight "the evil of terrorism."

The attack raised questions about the future U.S. diplomatic presence in Libya, relations between Washington and Tripoli, and the unstable security situation after Gaddafi's overthrow.

Witnesses said the mob at the consulate included tribesmen, militia and other gunmen. Hamam, a 17-year-old who took part in the attack, said Ansar al-Sharia cars arrived at the start of the protest but left once fighting started.

"The protesters were running around the compound just looking for Americans, they just wanted to find an American so they could catch one," he said.


"We started shooting at them, and then some other people also threw hand-made bombs over the fences and started the fires in the buildings," he said.

"There was some Libyan security for the embassy outside but when the hand-made bombs went off they ran off and left."

Hamam said he saw an American die in front of him in the mayhem that ensued. He said the body was covered in ash.

Clips of the "Innocence of Muslims," the film that stirred the deadly attacks, had been circulating on the Internet for weeks before protests erupted. They show an amateurish production portraying the Prophet Mohammad as a womanizer, a homosexual and a child abuser.

For many Muslims, any depiction of the Prophet is blasphemous and caricatures or other characterizations have in the past provoked protests all over the Muslim world.

U.S. media said the film was produced by an Israeli-American property developer. Internet links indicated it was by Sam Bacile, a name that could have Egyptian origins. But Reuters could not independently confirm his responsibility for the film, or even that Bacile was his real name.

Egypt's Coptic Orthodox church issued a statement condemning some Copts - Egyptian Christians - living aboard who it said had financed "the production of a film insulting Prophet Mohammad," while a U.S.-based Egyptian Christian who said he promoted the film said he was sorry that U.S. diplomats had been killed.

Morris Sadek, speaking to Reuters by phone from the United States, said his objective was to highlight discrimination against Christians who make up about 10 percent of Egypt's 83 million people.

He said Sam Bacile was the writer and director and described him as an "American."

Many Muslim states focused their condemnation on the film and will be concerned about preventing a repeat of the fallout seen after publication in a Danish newspaper of cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad. This touched off riots in the Middle East, Africa and Asia in 2006 in which at least 50 people died.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai called the making of the movie a "devilish act" but said he was certain those involved in its production were a very small minority.

The U.S. embassy in Kabul appealed to Afghan leaders for help in "maintaining calm" and Afghanistan shut down the YouTube site so Afghans would not be able to see the film.

General Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the U.S. military's Joint Chiefs of Staff, took the unusual step of telephoning a radical Florida Christian pastor, Terry Jones, and asking him to withdraw his support for the film. Earlier provocative acts by Jones, like publicly burning a Koran, had sparked Muslim unrest.

In Egypt, Prime Minister Hisham Kandil called on Washington to act against the film's makers for stirring up strife but condemned the violence.


U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the attack was the work of a "small and savage group."

U.S. ambassadors in such volatile countries as Libya have tight security, usually travelling in well-protected convoys. Diplomatic missions are normally protected by Marines or other special forces.

Abdel-Monem Al-Hurr, spokesman for Libya's Supreme Security Committee, said Libyan security forces came under heavy fire and "were not prepared for the intensity of the attack."

Security experts say the area around Benghazi is host to a number of Islamist militant groups who oppose any Western presence in Muslim countries.

(Additional reporting by Samia Nakhoul in Beirut, Marie-Louise Gumuchian in Tripoli, Hadeel Al Shalchi in Tripoli, Sarah N. Lynch, Arshad Mohammed, Andrew Quinn, Matt Spetalnick, Steve Holland and Mark Hosenball in Washington, and Reuters reporters in Cairo and Benghazi; Writing by David Brunnstrom and Peter Millership)

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  All Comments 37 comments Popular Now Newest Oldest Most Replied v1/comments/context/7ac08df0-d21a-31f4-a336-f127ec62d214/comment/1347497460704-35bd9233-315f-463e-ae05-ef9655d19ab0 Rick  •  5 mins ago Time for another apology - v1/comments/context/7ac08df0-d21a-31f4-a336-f127ec62d214/comment/1347497233661-96cbd141-20c3-4503-ad47-1516dc615aec Apocalypse  •  9 mins ago War War War War War War War War War War War War War War War, itsa comin v1/comments/context/7ac08df0-d21a-31f4-a336-f127ec62d214/comment/1347497633977-8b03a750-a3ca-4f5a-bca4-4d34133fdce3 keven w  •  2 mins 21 secs ago just like he is fousced on creating new jobs, and cutting the defict in half. v1/comments/context/7ac08df0-d21a-31f4-a336-f127ec62d214/comment/1347497441380-246430a0-9063-4671-90c1-447d229eef38 Zhenya  •  5 mins ago Palestinians and our domestic anti-Semites are sure it is the hand of Zionists. v1/comments/context/7ac08df0-d21a-31f4-a336-f127ec62d214/comment/1347497327280-2e5e93b9-0f47-4712-89cd-939d179e1685 O*W*S  •  7 mins ago "Christopher Stevens" was CIA. Seriously, what kind of diplomat sneaks onto a Greek ship and sneaks into Libya to help these alleged rebels fight Gaddafi? v1/comments/context/7ac08df0-d21a-31f4-a336-f127ec62d214/comment/1347497570263-8da97ed2-2857-4556-9afd-0be44018401f JL  •  3 mins 24 secs ago "I vow...blah, blah, blah...they cannot...blah, blah, blah...oh, and by the way let me apologize first..." what a loser. BO you fail! No leadership, no knowledge of running anything. But boy can you drink beer and golf with the boys. Great! Just Great! v1/comments/context/7ac08df0-d21a-31f4-a336-f127ec62d214/comment/1347497654290-b2cfa255-33f5-4d8b-8d59-3d677de109d1 A Yahoo User  •  2 mins 0 secs ago "and teenage soccer fans" ..... really? They were just soccer fans... oh well that explains it all. I guess we can all just carry on. Nothing to see here, yahoo news has it covered. v1/comments/context/7ac08df0-d21a-31f4-a336-f127ec62d214/comment/1347497686764-15c1af19-657e-408b-8d86-c8351bd7d24a A Yahoo User  •  1 min 28 secs ago Stop sending these criminals our taxpayer money!!!!!!! v1/comments/context/7ac08df0-d21a-31f4-a336-f127ec62d214/comment/1347496883323-8d8d7bb5-bad8-41ac-8fe0-f3446bf5d77e RIVERS  •  14 mins ago Obama should try tracking down some jobs ! v1/comments/context/7ac08df0-d21a-31f4-a336-f127ec62d214/comment/1347497196173-8f0f2ec0-1f47-43ad-aa70-da0690dc181e Apocalypse  •  9 mins ago 0bama, grab the next flight and go get um, he can talk the talk but he cant walk the walk v1/comments/context/7ac08df0-d21a-31f4-a336-f127ec62d214/comment/1347496957339-0e2c4b31-c991-434f-b6c0-b3f8f7786ae6 smith1  •  13 mins ago the libyan miltiary called for an attack on the building and killed two men. when will the idiots learn, we are not wanted over their. all they want is our taxpayer money. get out. stop all money and let the fools fight or send bammy over to take care of his children. v1/comments/context/7ac08df0-d21a-31f4-a336-f127ec62d214/comment/1347496957339-0e2c4b31-c991-434f-b6c0-b3f8f7786ae6/reply/00002b000000000000000000000000-e3910d99-b269-4965-b895-1f922355cd52 xps420 7 mins ago Well said and i for one could not A gree more. v1/comments/context/7ac08df0-d21a-31f4-a336-f127ec62d214/comment/1347497330389-1ac2975f-9bb7-47d4-85bd-1ed316c88bfe Fuquay Varina NC  •  7 mins ago bammy gonna get em just as soon as he is done with his fund raisin. v1/comments/context/7ac08df0-d21a-31f4-a336-f127ec62d214/comment/1347497379367-285e6441-594a-4e10-851e-11e553ebc5b9 Phillip Link  •  6 mins ago look they knew that this was going to happen , they put the apoligie out before it happen , an by the way why did obama let his gaurd down on of all days 911, is this his idea of protecting America, I think hes to dam busy tryiung to get reelected ..... if not then why in the hell did he fly to calif. for a campain fund rasing in th mist of this , he should have his #$%$ stuck to that desk in the oval office planning his an the American reaction , NOOOOOOO to busy trying to get elected again v1/comments/context/7ac08df0-d21a-31f4-a336-f127ec62d214/comment/1347496920474-5e557947-b04a-4137-8ec4-0d7acaf2341f Live4Science  •  14 mins ago yuo see mr obama he gon hep me v1/comments/context/7ac08df0-d21a-31f4-a336-f127ec62d214/comment/1347497299104-3a28dea1-f718-4b56-ac3b-f4b0a8cd305a Bob  •  7 mins ago The middle east has always been run by kings or dictators, and they will never understand our system of a democratic republic, we cannot depose every dictator and expect for the people to accept democracy, Islam is too strong in their makeup with the islamic brotherhood ready to step in when they are deposed, examples are Iraq, Libya, and Egypt... v1/comments/context/7ac08df0-d21a-31f4-a336-f127ec62d214/comment/1347496698214-37c48a69-b080-475f-97d5-b841fac0b9c1 The Truth  •  17 mins ago But whatever you do, remember, do not apologize v1/comments/context/7ac08df0-d21a-31f4-a336-f127ec62d214/comment/1347496563939-8f627104-27da-42af-be55-1bb65d297f15 Ronald Christopher  •  20 mins ago Not only was our ambassador killed but those Arabs attacked our sovereign soil. That is a declaration of war. v1/comments/context/7ac08df0-d21a-31f4-a336-f127ec62d214/comment/1347496563939-8f627104-27da-42af-be55-1bb65d297f15/reply/00002b000000000000000000000000-a8e8606e-e11d-478f-b722-9b1ed97605c4 Jan Trescak 6 mins ago Like after 9/11 Saudi attack this time war will be waged against Sudan. v1/comments/context/7ac08df0-d21a-31f4-a336-f127ec62d214/comment/1347497440819-e2ed0651-349a-423e-ac5c-90c8e429ca4f jim  •  5 mins ago oh i believe our- coward in chief obummer - hes hit a new low - - obummer economics - obummer bail outs - obummer the coward--boy can it get any worse with this guy-- no obummer v1/comments/context/7ac08df0-d21a-31f4-a336-f127ec62d214/comment/1347496286552-90e6894c-081c-49ee-8158-c5374c354345 Lock 'n' Load Lib ...  •  24 mins ago Obama's is gassing up his drones........bad guys beware! v1/comments/context/7ac08df0-d21a-31f4-a336-f127ec62d214/comment/1347497116356-d38b7041-559f-4e79-bcb8-f6c6bcd72851 BIG CHIEF SAYS  •  10 mins ago Obama promises to track down Ambassadors long as he doesn't offend muslims  More  Post a comment ugccmt data2 = "context id":"7ac08df0-d21a-31f4-a336-f127ec62d214","isExpert":"Normal","current User":false,"sAppLang":"en-US","sCountryCode":"US","sCharCountAllowed":"4000","sCharCountCommentWordCount":"300","sReportAbuseByCategory":"","sReportAbuseGuideLineUrl":"http: / / /l /us /yahoo /comments /article comments /comment-guidelines.html","sReportAbuseDisapperTime":"10000","context url":"http: / / /obama-vows-track-down-ambassadors-killers-tightens-security-001540810.html? esi=0","sAllowReply":"yes","sAllowNetworkerFilter":"yes","sDisclosureProp":"","sPostingDisabled":false,"sAllowScreening":false,"sSortOptionDisp":"Popular Now","sYuiBasePath":"yui /2.8.0r4 /build /","sCurrentSortBy":"highestRated","sCurrentFltrBy":"all","sCurrentSortByReply":"oldest","sPerPage":"20","rating type":"up down","hide min neg percent rating":"80","hide min total rating":"10","comment guideline url":"http: / / /l /us /yahoo /comments /article comments /comment-guidelines.html","truncationLen":"300","oSortOptions": "highestRated":"Popular Now","latest":"Newest","oldest":"Oldest","mostReplied":"Most Replied" ,"bEnableBloomfilter":1,"bEnableUserComments":1,"sIntl":"us","sLang":"en-US","sRedirectId":"yn","tracking": " S":"2022398630","pt":"storypage","pstcat":"science animalsandpets","pstaid":"7ac08df0-d21a-31f4-a336-f127ec62d214","intl":"us","lang":"en-US","test":"","sec":"comment","csrcpvid":"yFBY0UPDlDnxYFaHPxF5eQCQrQy7yFBRLy0ABg4I","property":"news-en-US" ,"maxlength":"4000","oVita": "vita type":"article","context title":"Obama vows to track down ambassador's killers, tightens security","context category":"article","vita img url":"http: / / /en us /News /Reuters /2012-09-13T004457Z 4 CBRE88B0S5Z00 RTROPTP 2 LIBYA-US-EMBASSY-DEATH.JPG","vita img width":"450","vita img height":"282","vita img rights":"anywhere","vita article author":"Matt Spetalnick and Hadeel Al Shalchi","vita article source":"Reuters" ,"oL10n": "NEW LABLE":"New!","THANK YOU":"Thank You!","COMMENTS POST SUCESS PRV MSG":"Your comment has been received and should be available shortly. 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'; if(typeof comments exe flag == 'undefined' comments exe flag == null ) YAHOO.Media.cmtMaskHandler.nativeXhrRequest('/ xhr/ugccomments/?method=log loaderror'+'&err code='+logLabels.ERR FAIL EXT+'&err state='+logErrState.ERR FAIL EXT ST); else YAHOO.Media.cmtMaskHandler.nativeXhrRequest('/ xhr/ugccomments/?method=log loaderror'+'&err code='+ logLabels.ERR FAIL INT+'&err state='+logErrState.ERR FAIL INT ST+'&exe flag='+comments exe flag); window.clearInterval(ugcCmtMaskTimer); cmtStatePageJsError = -1; else if( cmtStatePageJsError >= 1 && ((currentTs - initTs) >= err interval) && (beconState >= 2) ) window.clearInterval(ugcCmtMaskTimer); cmtStatePageJsError = -1; if( cmtStatePageJsError != -1) cmtStatePageJsError++; ,1000); var pageLoadTs = new Date().getTime(); window.onbeforeunload = function (e) var presentTs = new Date().getTime(); var frmContainer = document.getElementById('ugccmt-post-frm-container'); var cmtPostFrm = document.getElementById('ugccmt-header-rendered'); //document.getElementById('ugccmt-post-frm'); if( frmContainer != null && cmtPostFrm == null && cmtStatePageJsError != -1 && ((presentTs - pageLoadTs) > interval) ) var myJSLoadErrLogRq = new nativeXHRajaxObject('/ xhr/ugccomments/?method=log loaderror'); if(typeof comments exe flag == 'undefined' comments exe flag == null ) YAHOO.Media.cmtMaskHandler.nativeXhrRequest('/ xhr/ugccomments/?method=log loaderror'+'&err code='+logLabels.ERR CLOSE EXT+'&err state='+logErrState.ERR CLOSE EXT ST); else YAHOO.Media.cmtMaskHandler.nativeXhrRequest('/ xhr/ugccomments/?method=log loaderror'+'&err code='+ logLabels.ERR CLOSE INT+'&err state='+logErrState.ERR CLOSE INT ST+'&exe flag='+comments exe flag); ; ; You on News Your Activity  Social: OFFON Turn Social ONRemind me when I share Options What is this?Not you? Log out of FacebookHow to remove this experience News for You Bush Knew More About Bin Laden's Plans Than We RealizedNow, 11 years later, new details of the attack on the World Trade Center continue to emerge from the government's vault of classified documents and the journalists who've gained access. This year, the reporter with the jaw-dropping scoop is Kurt Eichenwald, a former Timesman and present contributing editor at Vanity Fair. After reading more than one tweet with the simple instructions "Read this," we clicked on the link to Eichenwald's powerful op-ed, due to be published in The New York Times on September 11. ...

Fisherman Survives Day at Sea in CrateA 19-year-old fisherman was rescued off the coast of Alaska Saturday after spending more than 24 hours adrift in a 4-by-4 foot plastic fish crate. Ryan Harris, of Sitka, Alaska, departed with his crewmate, 40-year-old Stonie “Mac” Huffman, Friday for a day of fishing aboard...

Morgan Stanley, Citigroup settle brokerage dispute - Morgan Stanley and Citigroup Inc have agreed to value their brokerage joint venture at $13.5 billion, settling a months-long dispute that notches a victory for Morgan Stanley. The figure is far lower than the value Citigroup had assigned to the Morgan Stanley Smith Barney business on its balance sheet, and as a result Citigroup will take a $2.9 billion non-cash charge against earnings in the third quarter. Morgan Stanley Smith Barney is the biggest brokerage in the United States with nearly 17,000 financial advisers and $1.71 trillion in assets. ...

Police: Single weapon used in Alpine killings French police say a single weapon was used to kill four people in the Alps, and investigators are again scouring the scene of the crime.

The Boycott Against Obama's Bear-Hugging Buddy Is Failing MiserablyWhen Scott Van Nuzer got caught up in the moment during President Obama's Sunday visit to his pizza shop in Fort Pierce, Florida, little did he know how quickly the Yelp army would mobilize. On Saturday, Big Apple Pizza had just two reviews, but at the time of this posting, that number had grown to 1,059. Of course, Obama being a Democrat and this being an election year, not all of them are five stars.

IRS pays whistleblower $104 million First, the government threw Bradley Birkenfeld in prison for helping a former client at UBS AG hide his wealth from the Internal Revenue Service. Now, as part of the same case, the IRS has awarded the former banker $104 million yes, million for helping expose the widespread tax evasion scheme by the Swiss banking behemoth.

Poll: Americans Pick President Obama Over Mitt Romney for Dinner DateThe American public may be divided on Obamacare, ? but when faced with choosing a candidate to care for them if illness struck, President Obama is their man. By a 13 point margin 49-36 percent registered voters polled by ABC News chose the president...

Murray's triumph the antithesis of British failureLONDON - British tennis was savoring its first male grand slam champion for 76 years on Tuesday but Andy Murray's extraordinary feat in New York was actually the antithesis of decades of failure from the nation where the sport was born. The 25-year-old's refusal to accept second best in Monday's U.S. Open final against Serbian ironman Novak Djokovic, to stare defeat in the face and still find the will to outlast one of sport's greatest warriors are not qualities to be found in any of Britain's Lawn Tennis Association coaching manuals. ...

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