US consulate attack was planned: Libya

2012-09-15 18:34
An al-Qaeda militant. (AFP, File)

An al-Qaeda militant. (AFP, File)

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Benghazi - The deadly attack on the US consulate in the Libyan city of Benghazi was planned and "meticulously executed", the country's assembly chief said on Saturday.

"I don't want to talk about what happened in other countries but as for Libya, the operation was meticulously executed," Mohammed al-Megaryef said of the wave of protests across the world over a US-produced film mocking Islam.

"There was planning. It was not a peaceful protest which degenerated into an armed attack or aggression. That's how it was planned," he said.

US ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans were killed on Tuesday when suspected Islamic militants fired on the consulate in the eastern Libyan city with rocket-propelled grenades and set it ablaze.

"The attack itself and the manner in which the attack occurred... confirms that this was planned and programmed to achieve a purpose," Megaryef said.

The attack "was prepared, especially since it coincided with the date of September 11", he said, referring to the 2011 attacks on the United States claimed by al-Qaeda.

Foreigners suspected

"I do not exclude discovering things that will link al-Qaeda and the US consulate attack," Megaryef said, adding however that it was "very early to talk about the investigation".

A senior US official said extremists appeared to have used the demonstration against the film as a "pretext" to attack American interests on the anniversary.

Megaryef also said foreigners may have been involved in the attack.

"There are non-Libyan actors present in Libya. They aim to carry out their own plans in our territory... [But] we will not allow that Libyan territory be used to implement these plans," he said.

His remarks coincided with an al-Qaeda statement that said the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi was in revenge for the killing of the terror network's deputy leader Sheikh Abu Yahya al-Libi.

"The killing of Sheikh Abu Yahya only increased the enthusiasm and determination of the sons of [Libyan independence hero] Omar al-Mukhtar to take revenge upon those who attack our Prophet," said al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, cited by Site Intelligence Group.

Libya ready to collaborate

US President Barack Obama stood fast after the attack in Benghazi and warned the world in no uncertain terms: "I want people around the world to hear me, to all those who would do us harm: No act of terror will go unpunished."

American agencies have launched a manhunt in Libya against the militants suspected of staging the most serious assault on an American diplomatic mission in decades, officials and experts say.

Megaryef said he was concerned by Washington's reaction, even though the US administration had reassured him that good ties would be maintained with the Libyan people.

He stressed that his country was ready to collaborate in the investigations.

"There is a sort of weakness in the performance of certain branches of Libyan security... It is their [Americans] right to collaborate with us and we should not see this as an affront to our national sovereignty," he said.

Symbols of US influence in cities across the Muslim world have come under attack - embassies and schools as well as fast food chains - as protesters vented their fury at the low-budget film, Innocence of Muslims.

Read more on:    al-qaeda  |  barack obama  |  us  |  libya  |  prophet protests  |  north africa  |  benghazi attack  |  religion
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