Too soon to call Libya attack 'act of terror': State Dept

Published: September 18, 2012
"I'm not going to put labels on this until we have a complete investigation." PHOTO: AFP/FILE

"I'm not going to put labels on this until we have a complete investigation." PHOTO: AFP/FILE

WASHINGTON: A State Department official refused Monday to call an attack on a US mission in Libya in which four Americans were killed “an act of terror,” saying a full investigation had to be completed first.

US and Libyan officials have offered widely differing accounts about Tuesday’s assault on the Benghazi mission, on the anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks, in which ambassador Chris Stevens and three other US staff died.

The US ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, confirming earlier accounts of the attack from the State Department, said Sunday it began with a spontaneous protest over an anti-Islamic video.

But Libya’s parliament chief, Mohammed al-Megaryef, 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 sympathizers.”

And al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula claimed it was revenge for the killing of the terror network’s deputy leader Abu Yahya al-Libi in a drone strike in June.

Asked if she would describe Tuesday’s assault as an act of terror, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said: “I’m not going to put labels on this until we have a complete investigation.”

“I don’t think we know enough,” Nuland said, adding the comments “that Ambassador Rice made accurately reflect our government’s initial assessment.”

“We’re going to have a full investigation now, and then we’ll be in a better position to put labels on things.”

Libyan authorities are currently investigating the attack and have arrested 50 suspects, with the interior minister also sacking Benghazi security chiefs.

The FBI is also carrying out its own investigation which “is obviously going to lead us to the appropriate conclusions about precisely what happened and how it happened,” Nuland said.

In the initial wake of the attack, a senior US official, asking to remain anonymous, said “the working hypothesis” was that it was a well-planned assault by militants instead of the act of a rampaging mob.

While State Department officials have described what they called “a complex attack” by extremists, they have stopped short of saying what its motives were, arguing that was one of the purposes of the investigation.

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Reader Comments (8)

  • Sep 18, 2012 - 1:25PM

    Looks like Obama man was taken out by Neocon/Mormons backed CIA asset trained in Gitmo named Qumu. It seems regime change coming to US from Obama to Romney. Video was just a red herring.


  • Parvez
    Sep 18, 2012 - 2:11PM

    Should not the guy who made the film be charged with murder, second, third or even fourth degree murder. The actions of an American was to cause of American deaths though the trigger was pulled by an Arab, its really not that complicated.


  • R.I.P
    Sep 18, 2012 - 3:15PM

    September 11, 2001[2012] Wake up call

    Libya get ready to be Iraq.

    OIC get ready to suspend Libya’s membership.Recommend

  • IceSoul
    Sep 18, 2012 - 6:25PM

    @Parvez: The maker of the film has not killed anyone, nor has he rioted or caused any damage to life or property. Your argument is childish and absurd.Recommend

  • IceSoul
    Sep 18, 2012 - 6:26PM

    And btw, the US government is weak in the extreme; if Reagan was President, Libya would be already feeling the heat….Recommend

  • Sexton Blake
    Sep 19, 2012 - 6:43PM

    The US/UK/France recently bombed Libya into the stone-age, and killed an untold number of people. I do not need an investigation to call it an act of terror.


  • IceSoul
    Sep 19, 2012 - 7:49PM

    @Sexton: You conveniently forget Qaddafi.


  • Sexton Blake
    Sep 19, 2012 - 9:01PM

    Dear IceSoul, “You conveniently forget Qaddafi”

    I can only presume that you are referring to Colonel Gaddafi, the leader of a country with the highest standard of living in Africa, who was murdered and mutilated by US backed Goons. The latest tragedy with the Ambassador might even be payback.


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