White House Says Attack in Libya May Have Been Planned

Thursday, September 13, 2012

A vehicle sits smoldering in flames after being set on fire inside the American consulate compound in Benghazi late on September 11, 2012. (Getty)

The violence in the Middle East that resulted in the death of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans in Benghazi late on the night of September 11 has extended beyond Libya into Egypt, Yemen, Iran, and Tunisia. The video that sparked the violence, still of ambiguous origin, "insults most of all its own maker" says David Kirkpatrick, Cairo bureau chief for The New York Times. "The thing is of low quality, cheap humor… It's not even an effective insult." 

"At the same time," Kirkpatrick adds, "around the Arab world, the U.S. is intensely unpopular, and has been for some time, because of decades of policy." The events in Libya, however, are a bit more perplexing. The United States, and particularly Ambassador Stevens, were very supportive in the overthrow of Colonel Qaddafi, which makes this turn of events all the more shocking.

Kirkpatrick cites the lack of real authority in Libya as being the main factor that allowed such a thing to occur. "The country is still run by a lot of ad hoc brigades that were formed to overthrow Qaddafi, and continue to parade around the streets… In that sort of atmosphere, where you have all these guns in the streets, and all these groups already organized with some military training roaming around, it's not that hard for things to go awry."
"At the same time," he says, "in Benghazi… the overwhelming sense last night was 'Oh my gosh, what have we done?'" 

Officials from the Obama administration say they suspect that the attack may have been planned, and that the protests over the anti-Islamic video may have served as a cover for more organized actions. 

Vijay Preshad, chair of South Asian history and director of the international studies department at Trinity College and author of "Arab Spring, Libyan Winter," is not convinced that this was a planned operation, or even an isolated incident of violence against western institutions in Libya. He references a series of smaller occurrences earlier this year, suggesting that perhaps this attack may have escalated beyond what was intended. 

Preshad cautions against oversimplifying the situation, and assuming that "they're just terrorists, and we need to respond to them with Tomahawk missiles."

"There is not one view in Libya, there is not one view in Egypt… But we shouldn't exaggerate either side — in other words, it's not worth saying, 'Well the real Libyans are appalled, or the real Libyans are celebrating.' There is a contradiction in Libyan society and we need to see it like that."

Produced by:

Arwa Gunja and Maggie Penman

Comments [11]

Carol in Brooklyn from Brooklyn NY

Will be surprised if this comment is published:

The neocons & their black ops have started a war in the middle East, to mess up the election.

The neocons keep the Military-Industrial Complex in business. Follow the money.

One other thing: whether or not you believe that this Middle East unrest was fomented by Romney and the neocons, note the unavoidable fact that this has now spread to Egypt, Yemen, Iraq (!!)… battleships are being sent to the Middle East… folks, we are two months out from a presidential election, and a full scale war is erupting in the Middle East.

“October” begins in 18 days.

The “hateful video” was just a patsy; a quick-and cheap rationale, which it turns out, actually cost more to produce than was evident in what was produced. Meaning, the lion’s share of the expense went straight to the filmmaker who allegedly masterminded it. Why? And from whom?

Also as we speak, McCain is on TV, complaining about Obama’s foreign policy “WEAKNESS”.

(And when you say stuff like that in “respectable” online publications, it gets disappeared. Q.E.D…)

Sep. 13 2012 03:29 PM
oscar from ny

That american jew and those hopeless terrorist remind me of the movie dum and dummer..
Moses parted the sea, bloomberg parted soda..im sure he thinks hes god..they should make a shrine and worship his brain...

Sep. 13 2012 03:21 PM
Fatimah MX from NYC

Well, overall, I believe that Free speech should not be something that a government should give TO a people, but they should already HAVE it. However, muslims take offense to something that was produced outside their borders because it deals with making Islam and our prophet (peace be upon him) look savage, inhumane, and defames us as a whole.

Its kind of like if to say the Jews were outraged at what Hitler did to them, its the same feeling of resentment muslims have for people who speak badly about the prophet we hold so dearly in our hearts. Same goes for Jesus or Noah or Moses, or any other prophet or religious person. It is an extraordinary injustice to say that a video should be allowed that will promote making fun and mocking Prophet David of the Jews , the Jews would be terribly upset. You have to understand where people are coming from.

Yet protesting and murder are two very DIFFERENT things. Protesting is fine because you are speaking out agaisnt something done wrong to you, but murdering somebody who did not need to be murdered is something I cannot comprehend when God tells muslims not to.

I honestly can tell you that I think two things about this :

1. It was either pre-meditated or set up

2. Or it was a rebel group such as Al-Qaeda (whatever they call themselves), or rebel local gangsters trying to look big and bad in the midst of confusion and anger.

Sep. 13 2012 02:18 PM
Leslie from Oregon

What Fatimah did not say that should also be said is that neither Libyans nor anyone else has the right to murder the people who DID produce the video. The fact that was not said points, I think, to a serious cultural difference between the Western world and the Middle East, or perhaps between Islamic and non-Islamic peoples, I'm not sure which. The concept of free speech apparently is not a part of those cultures, and with the ubiquity of the Internet and mass media, opportunities for cultures or countries to take offense at speech that was not generated within their borders (although it may have been directed there) are only going to increase, with predictable results.

Sep. 13 2012 02:06 PM
Larry Fisher from Brooklyn, N.Y.

I hate bad film as well as the next guy...When I was young I would demand my money back, now I just leave the theater and chomp on some popcorn... or sneak into another theater...

Eventually, as we get older we chill out, unfortunately there's always new blood out looking for blood. Twenty years from now, there will be another story like this. It's sad and dumb.

Sep. 13 2012 12:29 PM
Kevin D Bean from Worcester MA

The Incendiary Rhetoric/Actions of Damn Good Haters

As we come to grips with the tragic deaths of U.S. embassy personnel, and these fires rage on elsewhere, we need to recall the basic premise of public action stated by St. Augustine some 1600 years ago, “Never fight evil as if it were something that arose totally outside of yourself.”
Regrettably, in each generation there have been incendiary religious, political, and now viral video voices who are so sure that they can pinpoint evil in others without looking at their own capacity for destructive behavior. Former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan addressed a conference a few years ago sponsored by Trinity Church near Ground Zero at which the speakers were asked to “name evil,” something that some religious and political zealots seem so able to do. Annan said, “If we are intent on naming evil…let us name it intolerance. Let us name it as exclusion. Let us name it as a false assumption that we have nothing to learn from beliefs and traditions different from our own.”

Yes, the perpetrators of this violence must be held responsible and accountable. So also the videographers of the film and all who have promoted it need to be held responsible for lighting a match, as it were, in a highly incendiary climate, knowing it would set off a firestorm. William Sloane Coffin stated, “If you love the good, you must hate the evil; but if you hate [what you think is] the evil more than you love the good, you just become a damn good hater; and the world has plenty of such people.”

The Rev. Kevin D Bean, Rector
All Saints Church
10 Irving Street
Worcester, MA 01609
Tel. 508-752-3766 x13

Sep. 13 2012 12:10 PM
Angel from Miami, FL

It's just another religion, or as future generations will refer to as, "Just another mythology course in college." Global modernization, space exploration, fusion and green energy, and instant translation devices will gradually have future kids thinking less of ancient customs and interacting with people (and perhaps god) on a more natural level. Sure there will be Amish-like groups living rural lives in peace - a subculture. But for the rest of humankind the bible, quran, and torah will share a shelf with stories of Zeus, Odin, and Shiva. The Book of Mormon will only be known as the longest running New Broadway show in New New York, and not as an actual book.

Sep. 13 2012 10:42 AM

Disgusting. The first guest states these protests are the result of long policy. Really - why no reporting that Egyptians storming the embassy on 9/11 were chanting "Obama, Obama there are still a billion Osamas".

Sep. 13 2012 10:32 AM

Also, for those who say Islam is a "backwards" religion, how can that be so when Our Lord gave us the Final revelation confirming the TRUTH of the Original Bible and Torah (before changed at the Council of Nicea-look it up).

If you actually was to analyze the violence in the Bible, you would see it is just part of human nature (not to justify being uncivil in any way) but that is how people act.

This is what the Noble Qur'an says:

After this, it is you who kill one another and drive out a party of you from their homes, assist (their enemies) against them, in sin and transgression. And if they come to you as captives, you ransom them, although their expulsion was forbidden to you. Then do you believe in a part of the Scripture and reject the rest? Then what is the recompense of those who do so among you, except disgrace in the life of this world, and on the Day of Resurrection they shall be consigned to the most grievous torment. And Allah is not unaware of what you do.
( سورة البقرة , Al-Baqara, Chapter #2, Verse #85)

And when it is said to them (the Jews), "Believe in what Allah has sent down," they say, "We believe in what was sent down to us." And they disbelieve in that which came after it, while it is the truth confirming what is with them. Say (O Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم to them): "Why then have you killed the Prophets of Allah aforetime, if you indeed have been believers?"
( سورة البقرة , Al-Baqara, Chapter #2, Verse #91)

Say (O Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم): "We believe in Allah and in what has been sent down to us, and what was sent down to Ibrahim (Abraham), Isma'il (Ishmael), Ishaq (Isaac), Ya'qub (Jacob) and Al-Asbat [the offspring of the twelve sons of Ya'qub (Jacob)] and what was given to Musa (Moses), 'Îsa (Jesus) and the Prophets from their Lord. We make no distinction between one another among them and to Him (Allah) we have submitted (in Islam)."

Sep. 13 2012 09:47 AM

Okay, I am a muslim and these are the things I always wanted to tell people who are not muslims.:

Yes, it is wrong for the producer of the documentary to be so insensitive to Muslims and create a documentary mocking the prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) without researching anything of this man, knowing his morals or his principles. It was like seeing everything opposite of what the prophet stood for. If someone was also to mock prophet Jesus, we would also be outraged as well!

However, killing innocent people is a transgression punished by the Almighty God as listed in the Noble Qur'an, as we follow the Qur'an and the two previous scriptures , the Torah and the Bible. Those Libyans had NO RIGHT to murder people who had NOTHING to do with the production of the video. That was an unjust kill and I am so angry about that too.

So do not blame "Islam" and the laws of the Lord, because His perfect words are not flawed, MEN are flawed and those libyans definetly were. I speak for every muslim in responce to the man who believes that all muslims are violent. We live to obey and serve our Lord and follow His commandments. Whoever disobeys has transgressed their Lord's commandments and should NOT represent Islam in the media in ANY way.

Sep. 13 2012 09:47 AM
Ed from Larchmont

As Islam comes in more and more contact with the West, I just don't see how there can be any reconciliation between the two. It's a rock against a hard place.

After Jesus was beaten nearly to death and hung on the Cross to die, then rose from the dead, and in ten days send the Holy Spirit to the Apostles, Peter left the upper room and preached to the people. He told the crowd that they had killed the Messiah, as they well knew. They asked him what they should do. He replied that they should repend and be baptized, and so be forgiven of their sins.

But Islam, because of it's view of God, doesn't allow such forgiveness. God is so transcendent, that any insult to God can really only be resolved by the death of the person. Any less is falling short of their understanding of God.

Sep. 13 2012 06:06 AM

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