In the confusion surrounding the murders of four Americans in Benghazi, Libya yesterday, the Libyan government — which exists due to the military intervention of the US and NATO — initially left the impression that loyalists to dead dictator Moammar Qaddafi conducted the assassinations. CBS, however, now reports that the Libyan government has changed its tune. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and the other diplomatic personnel got moved to another building by Libyan security forces when the consulate was attacked, and then betrayed by them to the attackers:
Military officials told CBS News an anti-terrorism team of U.S. Marines was being deployed to Libya to help secure U.S. interests in the country following the attack. The State Department said, however, that no Americans were remaining at the facility in Benghazi. State officials would not confirm how many Americans were evacuated, or to where.
Wanis al-Sharef, a Libyan Interior Ministry official in Benghazi, said the four Americans were killed when the angry mob, which gathered to protest a U.S.-made film that ridicules Islam’s Prophet Muhammad, fired guns and burned down the U.S. consulate in Benghazi.
He said Stevens, 52, and other officials were moved to a second building, deemed safer, after the initial wave of protests at the consulate. According to al-Sharef, members of the Libyan security team seem to have indicated to the protesters the building to which the American officials had been relocated, and that building then came under attack.
Stevens, 52, was the first U.S. ambassador to be killed in the line of duty since 1979.
The dispatch of more Marines to Libya comes a little late, writes Michael Patrick Leahy at Breitbart, who wonders why the US didn’t have more Marines stationed at this mission in the first place. Or did they have any?
Security at the consulate was apparently provided by Libyan nationals hired by the United States. While security for American embassies is typically provided by our own Marines, the two Marines reported killed in yesterday’s attacks appear not to have been stationed at the embassy, but were sent there from another unknown location as the violence erupted. There is also no indication if these two Marines were the only American military personnel on site at the time of Ambassador Stevens’s death.
All reports indicate that the security forces at the consulate were overwhelmed by the size of the militant crowds and offered no resistance as they stormed the building, looted it, and killed the four Americans.
As the facts surrounding the destruction of the American consulate and death of Ambassador Stevens become known, investigators will focus on these question: Did the State Department provide adequate security for our embassy staff there? If not, why not?
And finally, the most important question of all: Where were the Marines?
We’d better get those answers quickly … perhaps as quickly as tomorrow. The Muslim Brotherhood, which now controls Egypt, has called for a “peaceful protest” on Friday throughout all the country — and wants “all national forces” to participate in it:
Egypt’s powerful Muslim Brotherhood on Wednesday called for nationwide protests Friday after a film deemed offensive to Islam sparked a deadly attack in Libya and furious protests in Cairo.
The Brotherhood calls “for peaceful protests on Friday outside all the main mosques in all of Egypt’s provinces to denounce offenses to religion and to the Prophet,” the Muslim Brotherhood’s Secretary General Mahmud Hussein said in a statement.
He also urged all “national forces to join the protests.”
The Muslim Brotherhood, from which President Mohammed Morsi emerged, is the largest and most organized political force in the country.
We’d better figure out our security in Cairo ASAP, or get our people out of there. This is going downhill fast, and the weak-sauce responses from the Obama administration is very clearly not dissuading radicals from their purpose.
Update: Libya’s interim president, Mohammed el-Megarif, issued an explicit apology for the murders of Stevens and the three other Americans:
Mohammed el-Megarif described the attack as “cowardly” and offered his condolences on the death of Ambassador Chris Stevensand the three other Americans. Speaking to reporters, he vowed to bring the culprits to justice and maintain his country’s close relations with the United States. He said the three Americans were security guards. ….
“We extend our apology to America, the American people and the whole world,” el-Megarif said.
Contrast that with the silence coming from Egypt’s leadership after the attack on the US embassy.