Riots over a private American citizen’s anti-Islamic movie claimed the lives of American Ambassador Chris Stevens, 52, and a group of embassy employees. The three killed along with Stevens include Sean Smith, an information management officer, and apparently two security guards. He becomes the first American diplomat killed in the line of duty since 1979. The US Consulate in Benghazi, Lybia was assaulted with machine-guns and rocket-propelled grenades.
President Barack Obama ordered the American embassies across the globe to increase security. Obama stated that “I have directed my administration to provide all necessary resources to support the security of our personnel in Libya and to increase security at our diplomatic posts around the globe.”
Obama also stated that “I strongly condemn the outrageous attack on our diplomatic facility in Benghazi. [The four Americans] exemplified America’s commitment to freedom, justice, and partnership with nations and people around the globe.”
Lybian Interim President Mohammed el-Megarif apologized to the United States for the attack calling it ‘cowardly’ and offering his condolences for the deaths of the four Americans. He also vowed to bring the culprits to justice. El-Megarif stated “We extend our apology to America, the American people and the whole world.”
Lybia’s statement regarding the attacks:
The attack in Libya came within hours of Egyptian protesters climbing the walls of the US Embassy in Cairo. Both nations are still unstable following the deposition of long term dictatorships that held power in those nations for many years. In Egypt, the police are still seen as being suspect because of years of human rights abuses.
There are some reports of Al-Qaida linked operatives stirring up the anger of the citizens, and possibly being responsible for the assault that killed Stevens, but this is currently unconfirmed.
Currently, Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi has not condemned the riot that hit the American Embassy in Cairo, nor said anything about the offending film. The ruling Muslim Brotherhood did, however, issue a statement via Facebook saying that they “regret the attacks on [the U.S. Embassy] by angry protesters, and we urge citizens to express their opinion peacefully.” In Cairo, the American Ambassador eased tensions by issuing a statement that, while not vetted by the American government, offered sympathies to the Egyptians who were upset over the content of the movie.
The film was created by 56-year-old real estate developer Sam Bacile who considers himself both American and Israeli. Israeli officials, though, have on record of him being a citizen. The film is also being promoted by anti-Muslim Egyptian Christian campaigners based in the United States. Bacile has gone into hiding claiming he never expected the film to create such an uproar.
Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor stated that “It’s obvious we’ll have to be vigilant. Anything he did or said has nothing to do whatsoever with Israel. He may claim what he wants. This was not done with or for or through Israel.”
In the wake of the attacks, Republican Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney went on the offensive. In the early hours of the attack, the Cairo Embassy issued a statement that may have helped save lives and tamp down the anger being expressed by the mob. The Embassy stated “The Embassy of the United States in Cairo condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims—as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions. Respect for religious beliefs is a cornerstone of American democracy. We firmly reject the actions by those who abuse the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of others.”
The statement was made without prior authorization from the State Department.
Mitt Romney decided to take a swipe at Obama stating “I’m outraged by the attacks on American diplomatic missions in Libya and Egypt and by the death of an American consulate worker in Benghazi. It’s disgraceful that the Obama Administration’s first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks.”
Some reports have noted that this comes across as insensitive at a time when American lives were on the line. Ben LaBolt, the Obama Campaign spokesman, stated “We are shocked that, at a time when the United States of America is confronting the tragic death of one of our diplomatic officers in Libya, Governor Romney would choose to launch a political attack.”
With regards to the attack, Hilary Clinton, the American Secretary of State, said “Some have sought to justify this vicious behavior as a response to inflammatory material posted on the Internet. The United States deplores any intentional effort to denigrate the religious beliefs of others. Our commitment to religious tolerance goes back to the very beginning of our nation. But let me be clear: There is never any justification for violent acts of this kind.”