Late US envoy had hailed Libya revolt

2012-09-12 14:03

Washington - US ambassador Chris Stevens had hailed the Libyan revolt that overthrew Muammar Gaddafi, but now appears to have been struck down in a rocket attack by forces unleashed after the strongman's fall.

Stevens was killed in an attack on the US consulate in Benghazi late on Tuesday by Islamists outraged over an amateur American-made Internet video mocking Islam, less than six months after being appointed to his post.

Stevens had served as envoy to the Libyan rebels from the early weeks of the February 2011 revolt, in which Nato aircraft helped rebels overthrow the 40-year-old regime and eventually capture and kill Gaddafi.

"I was thrilled to watch the Libyan people stand up and demand their rights," Stevens said in a video introduction released by the State Department shortly after he was appointed ambassador in May 2012.

"Now I'm excited to return to Libya to continue the great work we've started, building a solid partnership between the United States and Libya to help you, the Libyan people, achieve your goals."

In the video, Stevens talked about growing up in California and graduating from the University of California at Berkeley.

Gaddafi’s regime

He described how he fell in love with the Middle East and North Africa during a two-year stint in the Peace Corps, when he worked as an English teacher in Morocco's Atlas Mountains.

He went on to join the State Department and serve as a foreign service officer in Jerusalem, Damascus, Cairo and Riyadh.

The Arabic and French-speaking diplomat also served in Libya as deputy chief of mission between 2007 and 2009, shortly after the United States restored relations with Gaddafi’s regime.

It was not immediately clear why Stevens was in the Benghazi consulate at the time of Tuesday's attack or whether those who pelted the building with rocket-propelled grenades before setting it on fire knew he was there.

During Gaddafi’s reign an Islamist demonstration of the kind that erupted on Tuesday night would have been unthinkable, but so would the "free, democratic, prosperous Libya" that Stevens had said he hoped to help bring about.

  • kafantaris2 - 2012-09-12 15:19

    Islam is not a cancer but ignorance surely is -- with education being the only cure. Many Islamists have been deprived of their basic freedoms for so long they actually do not know or understand what they are. Freedom of religion forbids the government from interfering with our religious beliefs. Freedom of speech forbids the government from interfering with our expression of any beliefs -- even those that are clearly wrong, offensive, against the government or against the prevalent religion. If one of us thus decides to make an offensive film against another's religion, he has the freedom to do so. And since the government cannot stop him, it also cannot be blamed for the offending film. This point must sound strange to those whose entire lives have been controlled by their government or their religion. However, tolerating the offensive conduct of others is the cornerstone of all freedom. To be sure, countries that only recently have espoused democracy have much work ahead of them. First and foremost they need to educate the masses on the workings of individual freedoms. The media should join in this important task because democracy depends on a free media. Let the blood of our good Ambassador then write the first chapter of the Arab textbook for freedom. And let that chapter again begin with the preamble “that all men are created equal . . . with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness...”

  • fidel.mgoqi - 2012-09-12 15:23

    Obviously there were and still are Libyans who don't share your enthusiasm!

      AnthonyfromAfrica - 2012-09-12 19:17

      . Yes, there are also those in Uganda who still cry for Idi Amin !!! Maybe three or four !!!

      AnthonyfromAfrica - 2012-09-13 00:40

      In a country of 22 MILLION, that is an irritation !!! It is a bit like these 'boeremag' scumbags!!!

      AnthonyfromAfrica - 2012-09-13 05:34

      CORRECTION: In a country of 6.5 MILLION, that is an irritation !!! It is a bit like these 'boeremag' scumbags!!!

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