Nihal Zaroug and Maha Ellawati
TRIPOLI — The attack on the US mission in Benghazi in which Amercian Ambassador Chris Stevens, three other US diplomats were killed along with 10 Libyan security officers was planned in advance, said the Speaker of the General National Congress (GNC) Mohamed Magarief in Benghazi Friday.
He was in the city to visit the gutted US consulate. He was accompanied by Chief of Staff Yusuf Mangoush.
Refuting statements by deputy interior minister with responsibility for the east of Libya Wanis Al-Sharif, who blamed both Gaddafi elements for the attack and as well as US security guards who he said had provoke the attack by shooting at peaceful demonstrators, Magarief accused extremists for Tuesday night’s events.
The attack, he said, was premeditated and intended to harm US personnel. Pro-Gaddafi elements were not involved in the attacks.
Stevens was in Benghazi for a 10 a.m. meeting Wednesday with the Agoco oil company. His visit was supposed to be secret, but it is being reported that the details of his visit were passed on to the extremists. Sensitive documents are said to be missing from the representative office.
The perpetrators were coordinated, it is claimed, and came fully armed, with the clashes outside the mission lasting several hours.
Libyan activists and political figures have denounced the attacks on TV, demanding to know why neither the army nor the Ministry of Interior’s security forces respond in time with an equal amount of force.
Ansar Al-Sharia, the militant group said to be involved in the attack, is being investigated and some members have been arrested.
Sources close to Prime Minister-elect Mustafa Abushagur say the group will be closed down. But the islamist movement group has denied involvement in the attacks and says it is being deliberately slandered.
Questions are being asked both in the US and in Libya whether there is an Al-Qaeda link. It is being suggested that the Omar Abdul Rahman Brigades, which supports Al-Qaeda, was behind the attack. Magarief himeslf has already indicated that it is not coincidental that that attack took pace of the anniversary of Al-Qaeda’s 9/11attacks on the US.
In June, a bomb explosion outside the US Benghazi mission was claimed by the Omar Abdul Rahman Brigades as retaliation for the death of Al-Qaeda deputy leader Mohammed Hassan Qaed, a Libyan also known as Abu Yahya Al-Libi. He was killed by a US drone attack in Pakistan on June 4.
Shortly before Tuesday’s attack, Al-Qaeda leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri called for revenge in Libya and elsewhere for Libi’s death.
The three US diplomatic staff who were killed with Ambassador Stevens have been named as Foreign Service information management officer Sean Smith and security officers Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods.
Smith, formerly a US air force officer, married with two children, had worked in the US diplomatic service in Pretoria, Brussels and Baghdad.
Both Doherty and Woods, who leaves a widow and three young children, were former US navy SEALS. — Libya Herald