US, Libya differ on Benghazi attack

2012-09-17 08:16
Susan Rice. (AFP, File)

Susan Rice. (AFP, File)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Washington - Top US and Libyan officials have offered starkly different accounts about the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi that left the ambassador and three other Americans dead.

The US ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, said on Sunday it began with a spontaneous protest over the anti-Islamic video that had already set off similar protests in Egypt, leading to the storming of the US embassy there.

"People gathered outside the embassy [consulate] and then it grew very violent and those with extremist ties joined the fray and came with heavy weapons, which unfortunately are quite common in post-revolutionary Libya and that then spun out of control," Rice told Fox News Sunday.

"But we don't see at this point signs this was a co-ordinated plan, premeditated attack. Obviously, we will wait for the results of the [FBI] investigation and we don't want to jump to conclusions before then."

Announcing the arrest of 50 suspects, Libya's parliament chief, however, blamed the attack on a few foreign extremists who he said entered Libya from Mali and Algeria and pre-planned it with local "affiliates and sympathisers".

"The way these perpetrators acted, and moved... leaves us with no doubt that this was pre-planned, determined, predetermined," Mohammed al-Megaryef, president of the Libyan National Congress, told CBS News.

Al-Qaeda claims revenge

"It was planned, definitely, it was planned by foreigners, by people who entered the country a few months ago. And they were planning this criminal act since their arrival," he added.

Ambassador Chris Stevens is believed to have died from smoke inhalation after being trapped in the blazing diplomatic compound in Benghazi, which came under fire from rocket-propelled grenades, mortars and small arms for several hours.

Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula claimed the attack was revenge for the killing of the terror network's deputy leader Sheikh Abu Yahya al-Libi in a drone strike in June, but there is no clear evidence to support this claim.

US authorities initially leaned more toward the premeditated, well-planned assault angle, citing the fact that the attack came on the anniversary of 9/11.

But now they are more reticent, insisting that journalists wait for the results of the FBI investigation before leaping to any conclusions.

Rice's comments are the strongest indication yet that - even if the United States does believe the assault was the work of a small band of extremists - it has no evidence to suggest planning prior to the protests.

'Act of terror'

But a leading Republican senator and critic of the administration of President Barack Obama, John McCain, said it was ridiculous to believe this was anything other than a planned assault by extremists.

"Most people don't bring rocket-propelled grenades and heavy weapons to a demonstration," McCain told CBS's Face the Nation.

"That was an act of terror. And for anyone to disagree with that fundamental fact I think is really ignoring the facts."

The reluctance of the US officials to give details about the Libya probe betrays the determination of Washington to track down those who killed Stevens, the first US envoy killed in the line of duty since 1979.

US spies, Marines and drones are aiding the Libyan authorities in their effort, hampered by the chaotic blend of competing militia and tribal alliances in the wake of the revolution that ousted Muammar Gaddafi last year.

Rice denied the suggestion that the United States seemed powerless to stop the anger spreading through the Muslim world at symbols of US influence, such as diplomatic missions, businesses and fast food restaurants.

Criticism

She said the flare-up in the Middle East, North Africa, and some Asian countries was triggered solely by the amateurish movie lampooning the Prophet Muhammad and not due to waning US popularity in the Muslim world.

Rice called it a "direct result of a heinous and offensive video that was widely disseminated, that the US government had nothing to do with, which we have made clear is reprehensible and disgusting."

The remarks, however, drew sharp criticism from The Wall Street Journal, a conservative newspaper, which said that Rice's argument "intended to shield Obama Administration policies from any domestic political blame for the attacks".

"The far greater provocation to violence is the appearance of US weakness," the paper said in an editorial. "The Administration's feeble response in the last week only invites radicals to use more such excuses to kill more Americans."

Read more on:    un  |  al-qaeda  |  barack obama  |  us  |  libya  |  prophet protests  |  north africa  |  benghazi attack  |  religion
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
6 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
 

ANCYL: Not voting would be blasphemy

Not voting in the forthcoming elections would be blasphemy, the ANCYL says in a statement commemorating the 50th anniversary of struggle icon Nelson Mandela's Rivonia trial speech.

 
 

Latest elections multimedia

Why Jack Parow wants you to vote on 7 May
The ad the SABC doesn't want to air
Elections 2014 in one cartoon
This year's election posters
 
Traffic
Lottery
 
  • Thursday Sir Lowry's Pass - 05:35 AM
    Road name: Old Sir Lowrys Pass Road
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Bezweni Road
  • Thursday Cape Town - 05:35 AM
    Road name: Buitengracht Street
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Waterkant Street
 
More traffic reports...
 

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Escape winter, head to Mauritius

Escape winter by spending 7 nights in Mauritius' tropical bliss from R13 215 per person sharing. Includes return flights, airport transfers and accommodation. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Get many eggs in one basket!

Gaming bundles: 2 Super Hits games for R99, 3 Disney games for R99 and more + exclusive accessory bundles only available on kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

25% off bestselling books!

The Real Meal Revolution by Tim Noakes, Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish for, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frank and many more titles. Shop now!

Up to 25% off electronics

Buy top electronics and save up to 25%. Such as kalahari.com’s 1# selling product the gobii eReader, Patriot X Porter flash drive, Asus Nexus 7” 3G tablet, Samsung Galaxy SIII, Lenovo G580 Notebook and many more. Shop now!

DStv HD PVR Decoder now R949

The DStv HD PVR Decoder has further revolutionised the television experience with lifelike viewing, sharper images, more vibrant colours and precision picture quality. Now R949, save R550. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 30% off appliances & homeware

Save up to 30% on appliances and homeware this Easter! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Apple iPad 2 White 16GB 9.7" Tablet With WiFi & 3G

Two cameras for FaceTime and HD video recording. The dual-core...

From R5727.00

I'm shopping for:

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

There may be a break through, either through quiet contemplative time to connect to your deep side or forced on you by...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.