Medics carry an injured woman on a stretcher to an ambulance after a suspected suicide bomber detonated an explosive device at the entrance of the U.S. Embassy in the Turkish capital, Ankara, Turkey, Friday Feb. 1, 2013.
The bomb appeared to have exploded inside the security checkpoint at the entrance of the visa section of the embassy. A police official said at least two people are dead. (AP /Burhan Ozbilici) Today’s attack marked the final US embassy attack under the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s reign at the State Department. Her last day as Secretary of State is today.
** Here’s a look back at the US embassy attacks under Secretary of State Hillary Clinton: Islamist protesters attacked the US Embassy in Jakarta in September screaming “F**k America!” The Islamists chucked rocks and bricks at the embassy guards and torched a US flag.
Islamic radicals chanting “Death to America!” stormed the US Embassy in Sanaa, Yemen in September. They stormed the building and torched vehicles.
Looking Back at a Failed and Bloody Record– A suicide bomber blew up today at the US Embassy in Turkey killing himself and one other person. Medics carry an injured woman on a stretcher to an ambulance after a suspected suicide bomber detonated an explosive device at the entrance of the U.S. Embassy in the Turkish capital, Ankara, Turkey, Friday Feb. 1, 2013. The bomb appeared to have exploded inside the security checkpoint at the entrance of the visa section of the embassy.
A police official said at least two people are dead. (AP /Burhan Ozbilici) Today’s attack marked the final US embassy attack under the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s reign at the State Department. Her last day as Secretary of State is today. ** Here’s a look back at the US embassy attacks under Secretary of State Hillary Clinton: Islamist protesters attacked the US Embassy in Jakarta in September screaming “F**k America!”
The Islamists chucked rocks and bricks at the embassy guards and torched a US Flag. Islamic radicals chanting “Death to America!” stormed the US Embassy in Sanaa, Yemen in September. They stormed the building and torched vehicles. In November 2012 the Talban carried out a massive attack near the US Embassy in Kabul. An RPG fired at house used by British diplomats.
Afghan police inspect the dead body of one of the suicide attackers following the 18-hour assault in April. (Daily Mail)Afghan police inspect the dead body of one of the suicide attackers following the 18-hour assault in April. (Daily Mail)
Islamists stormed the US Embassy in Sudan in September.
A Sudanese demonstrator burns a German flag as others shout slogans after torching the German embassy in Khartoum during a protest against a low-budget film mocking Islam on September 14, 2012. (AFP /Ashraf Shazly)A Sudanese demonstrator burns a German flag as others shout slogans after torching the German embassy in Khartoum during a protest against a low-budget film mocking Islam on September 14, 2012. (AFP /Ashraf Shazly)
Al-Qaeda was involved in a number of the attacks…
Cairo – Tuesday 9-11 2012
An Egyptian protester tries to raise an islamic Flag at the US embassy during a protest in Cairo Tuesday. (New York Post)
Yemen – Thursday 9-13 2012
A Yemeni protester (c.) destroys an American flag pulled down as others hold a banner in Arabic that reads, ‘any one but you God’s prophet’ at the US Embassy compound during a protest about a film ridiculing Islam’s Prophet Muhammad, in Sanaa, Yemen, Thursday. Dozens of protesters gathered in front of the US Embassy in Sanaa to protest the made-in-America film ‘The Innocence of Muslims,’ deemed blasphemous and Islamophobic. (Hani Mohammed/AP)
Tunisia – Friday 9-14 2012
Black Flag over the embassy: Local TV images show a black Islamic flag flying over the American embassy in Tunis. (Daily Mail and Riehl World View) In Benghazi, Libya - Our consulate was destroyed and our ambassador murdered.
And, now we know the al-Qaeda flag was seen at the consulate during the terrorist strike on the embassy. And it was seen several times over Benghazi government buildings during the year.
Despite these numerous attacks, the Obama Administration insists that Al-Qaeda is on the run. Where? (source)
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Wednesday took responsibility for the security failure in Benghazi, Libya, delivering an emotional statement to lawmakers on Capitol Hill.
During her final Senate appearance as the nation’s top diplomat, Clinton defended her department's handling of the attack’s aftermath. She teared up as she recalled consoling the families of the four Americans who died during the Sept. 11 assault, and rejected Republican allegations that the administration engaged in a cover-up.
"For me, this is not just a matter of policy … it’s personal,” Clinton said while choking up. “I stood next to President Obama as the Marines carried those flag-draped caskets off the plane at Andrews. I put my arms around the mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, sons and daughters."
“As I have said many times since Sept. 11, I take responsibility. Nobody is more committed to getting this right. I am determined to leave the State Department and our country safer, stronger and more secure,” she said.
But she also defended the administration's response to the assault, noting that an independent investigation found that State's actions "saved American lives in real time."
Republicans used the attack that killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans to criticize President Obama's national security record during the 2012 campaign. The political fury cost Susan Rice, Obama's ambassador to the United Nations, a shot at replacing Clinton as head of State after she gave television interviews in which she linked the attack to a peaceful protest gone awry.
Under questioning from Sen. Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Clinton said she had no say in the decision to send Rice to the Sunday shows to deliver the administration's take on the situation in Libya.
“I personally was not focused on talking points," Clinton said. "I was focused on keeping our people safe.”
She described Rice's controversial statements as emerging from a "typical" inter-agency process and said many questions about the attack remain.
“We didn't know who the attackers were or what their motives were," she said. "The picture remains somewhat complicated.”
She said there's evidence the attack in Benghazi was premeditated but “not necessarily indicative of extensive planning.”
She also said the attack was not an isolated event.
“Any clear-eyed examination of this matter must begin with this sobering fact: Since 1988, there have been 19 Accountability Review Boards investigating attacks on American diplomats and their facilities,” she said. “Concerns about terrorism and instability in North Africa are not new. Indeed, they have been a top priority for our entire national-security team. But after Benghazi, we accelerated a diplomatic campaign to increase pressure on al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and other terrorist groups across the region.”
She urged lawmakers not to use the attack as an excuse to withdraw from the world.
“The United States must continue to lead … in the Middle East and all around the globe,” she said. “We have come a long way in the past four years. We cannot afford to retreat now. When America is absent, especially from unstable environments, there are consequences. Extremism takes root, our interests suffer and our security at home is threatened.”(source)
Egypt's General Intelligence Service warned that a jihadi group is planning to launch terrorist attacks against the US and Israeli embassies in Cairo, according to a report Tuesday by Egypt Independent, citing a secret letter obtained by Al-Masry Al-Youm.
According to the report, the attack is being planned by Global Jihad, the group suspected of killing 16 Egyptian border guards in Sinai on August 5.
Al-Masry Al-Youm reportedly obtained a copy of the September 4 letter, sent to all Egyptian security sectors, warning that Sinai- and Gaza-based Global Jihad cells were planning attacks on the two embassies.
Egypt's military is engaged in an ongoing campaign to root out Sinai-based terrorists.(source)
The killings of the US ambassador to Libya and three of his staff were likely to have been the result of a serious and continuing security breach, The Independent can reveal.
American officials believe the attack was planned, but Chris Stevens had been back in the country only a short while and the details of his visit to Benghazi, where he and his staff died, were meant to be confidential.
The US administration is now facing a crisis in Libya. Sensitive documents have gone missing from the consulate in Benghazi and the supposedly secret location of the "safe house" in the city, where the staff had retreated, came under sustained mortar attack. Other such refuges across the country are no longer deemed "safe".
Some of the missing papers from the consulate are said to list names of Libyans who are working with Americans, putting them potentially at risk from extremist groups, while some of the other documents are said to relate to oil contracts.
According to senior diplomatic sources, the US State Department had credible information 48 hours before mobs charged the consulate in Benghazi, and the embassy in Cairo, that American missions may be targeted, but no warnings were given for diplomats to go on high alert and "lockdown", under which movement is severely restricted.
Mr Stevens had been on a visit to Germany, Austria and Sweden and had just returned to Libya when the Benghazi trip took place with the US embassy's security staff deciding that the trip could be undertaken safely.
Eight Americans, some from the military, were wounded in the attack which claimed the lives of Mr Stevens, Sean Smith, an information officer, and two US Marines. All staff from Benghazi have now been moved to the capital, Tripoli, and those whose work is deemed to be non-essential may be flown out of Libya.
In the meantime a Marine Corps FAST Anti-Terrorism Reaction Team has already arrived in the country from a base in Spain and other personnel are believed to be on the way. Additional units have been put on standby to move to other states where their presence may be needed in the outbreak of anti-American fury triggered by publicity about a film which demeaned the Prophet Mohamed.
A mob of several hundred stormed the US embassy in the Yemeni capital Sanaa yesterday. Other missions which have been put on special alert include almost all those in the Middle East, as well as in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Armenia, Burundi and Zambia.
Senior officials are increasingly convinced, however, that the ferocious nature of the Benghazi attack, in which rocket-propelled grenades were used, indicated it was not the result of spontaneous anger due to the video, called Innocence of Muslims. Patrick Kennedy, Under-Secretary at the State Department, said he was convinced the assault was planned due to its extensive nature and the proliferation of weapons.
There is growing belief that the attack was in revenge for the killing in a drone strike in Pakistan of Mohammed Hassan Qaed, an al-Qa'ida operative who was, as his nom-de-guerre Abu Yahya al-Libi suggests, from Libya, and timed for the anniversary of the 11 September attacks.
Senator Bill Nelson, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said: "I am asking my colleagues on the committee to immediately investigate what role al-Qa'ida or its affiliates may have played in the attack and to take appropriate action."
According to security sources the consulate had been given a "health check" in preparation for any violence connected to the 9/11 anniversary. In the event, the perimeter was breached within 15 minutes of an angry crowd starting to attack it at around 10pm on Tuesday night. There was, according to witnesses, little defence put up by the 30 or more local guards meant to protect the staff. Ali Fetori, a 59-year-old accountant who lives near by, said: "The security people just all ran away and the people in charge were the young men with guns and bombs."
Wissam Buhmeid, the commander of the Tripoli government-sanctioned Libya's Shield Brigade, effectively a police force for Benghazi, maintained that it was anger over the Mohamed video which made the guards abandon their post. "There were definitely people from the security forces who let the attack happen because they were themselves offended by the film; they would absolutely put their loyalty to the Prophet over the consulate. The deaths are all nothing compared to insulting the Prophet."
Mr Stevens, it is believed, was left in the building by the rest of the staff after they failed to find him in dense smoke caused by a blaze which had engulfed the building. He was discovered lying unconscious by local people and taken to a hospital, the Benghazi Medical Centre, where, according to a doctor, Ziad Abu Ziad, he died from smoke inhalation.
An eight-strong American rescue team was sent from Tripoli and taken by troops under Captain Fathi al- Obeidi, of the February 17 Brigade, to the secret safe house to extract around 40 US staff. The building then came under fire from heavy weapons. "I don't know how they found the place to carry out the attack. It was planned, the accuracy with which the mortars hit us was too good for any ordinary revolutionaries," said Captain Obeidi. "It began to rain down on us, about six mortars fell directly on the path to the villa."
Libyan reinforcements eventually arrived, and the attack ended. News had arrived of Mr Stevens, and his body was picked up from the hospital and taken back to Tripoli with the other dead and the survivors.
Mr Stevens' mother, Mary Commanday, spoke of her son yesterday. "He did love what he did, and he did a very good job with it. He could have done a lot of other things, but this was his passion. I have a hole in my heart," she said.
Global anger: The protests spread
The furore across the Middle East over the controversial film about the Prophet Mohamed is now threatening to get out of control. In Sana'a, the Yemeni capital, yesterday around 5,000 demonstrators attacked the US embassy, leaving at least 15 people injured. Young protesters, shouted: "We sacrifice ourselves for you, Messenger of God," smashed windows of the security offices and burned at least five cars, witnesses said.
Egypt's Islamist President Mohamed Morsi yesterday condemned the attack in Benghazi that killed the US ambassador. In a speech in Brussels, Mr Morsi said he had spoken to President Obama and condemned "in the clearest terms" the Tuesday attacks. Despite this, and possibly playing to a domestic audience, President Obama said yesterday that "I don't think we would consider them an ally, but we don't consider them an enemy".
Demonstrators in Cairo attacked the mission on Tuesday evening and protests have continued since.
Militants said the anti-Islamic film "will put all the American interests Iraq in danger" and called on Muslims everywhere to "face our joint enemy", as protesters in Baghdad burned American flags yesterday. The warning from the Iranian-backed group Asaib Ahl al-Haq came as demonstrators demanded the closure of the US embassy in the capital.
Islamists warned they may "besiege" the US embassy in Dhaka after security forces stopped around 1,000 protesters marching to the building. The Khelafat Andolon group called for bigger protests as demonstrators threw their fists in the air, burned the flag and chanted anti-US slogans.
There was a Hamas-organised protest in Gaza City, and as many as 100 Arab Israelis took to the streets in Tel Aviv. In Afghanistan, President Hamid Karzai postponed a trip to Norway, fearing violence. Officials in Pakistan said they "expected protests". Protesters in Tunis burnt US flags.(source)
The way U.S. embassies and consulates protect their staffs in volatile locations has raised several red flags in Congress, among watchdogs and even an outside commission in recent years.
The concerns came into sharp focus with the death in Libya of U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens in an attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, as well as an attack Tuesday on the U.S. embassy in Cairo. While the State Department has responded to some of the criticisms leveled by congressional oversight bodies and its own internal watchdog, its Diplomatic Security (DS) office recently acknowledged it lacked the funding for some recommended improvements, such as security training, and was instead looking for workarounds.
“We cannot sufficiently meet the additional training recommendations outlined in the Secretary's QDDR (quadrennial review). Therefore, DS is aggressively pursuing on-line alternatives, e.g., distance learning of FACT lessons minus the hard skills (i.e., weapons familiarization and driver's training) to increase training capabilities,” the department candidly acknowledged in a February performance evaluation report.
In response to Stevens's death at the hands of an angry mob outside the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, President Barack Obama announced Wednesday that he has "directed my administration to increase our security at diplomatic posts around the world." U.S. officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said some 50 Marines are being sent to Libya to reinforce security at U.S. diplomatic facilities.
"There is no higher priority than protecting our men and women wherever they serve," said Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Her department identified embassy and personnel security as one of its major management challenges in its 2012 budget and priorities report.
One of the biggest concerns raised in recent years has been the quality and capabilities of private security contractors hired to protect embassy staffs. The congressionally chartered Commission on Wartime Contracting issued a strong warning in 2009, saying the State Department’s reliance on lowest-priced contractors was jeopardizing security.
“Lowest-priced security not good enough for war-zone embassies,” the commission wrote in a stinging report that urged other factors such as capability be considered in awarding security contracts. The State Department inspector general highlighted the gaps in some private security firms’ capabilities with investigations of the war-time security postures in Iraq and Afghanistan.
A March 2010 report by the IG cited several potential weaknesses with the private firm guarding the Baghdad embassy, while acknowledging the firm had thus far protected the facility from any major attacks.
Among the problems cited:
•The diplomatic security office lacked standards for ensuring the contractor performed adequate security training,
•The security contractor’s subcontractor for explosive detection had “several weaknesses” in its canine scent detection efforts for bombs.
•The security office at the embassy did not have criteria for the number of consecutive days guards can work without a day off. “The Office of Inspector General found that some guards had worked as many as 39 days without a break,” the report warned.
•The embassy’s guard housing was “unsafe and in violation of the contract.” Those finding echoed a September 2010 report by the inspector general of the then-private security contractor in Afghanistan, which found:
•The contractor had “not been able to recruit, train, or manage” the security force “at the staffing level or the quality required by its contract.”
•The embassy had “ employed Nepalese guards without verifiable experience, training, or background investigations in violation of its contract.”
•The contractor would not “account for 101 U.S. government-furnished weapons that have been missing since 2007.”
•The contractor had permitted “a pattern of uncorrected disciplinary problems” in its security forces. The State Department took several corrective actions and subsequently selected a new contractor to take over the Afghan’s embassy’s security.
But that selection quickly created new controversy when the Senate Armed Services Committee issued a report finding that the contractor had relied on warlords with possible ties to the Taliban to staff its security forces.
The inspector general recently concluded that the State Department’s vetting of the contractor met federal regulations but somehow failed to uncovered the information found by Senate investigators. “The Department was not aware of the selected contractor’s past performance, as reported by the Senate Armed Services Committee, until after the report was publicly released in October 2010, which was after the contract and the task order had been awarded.
OIG also determined that the Department had used the proper systems to obtain,” the IG reported. The Project on Government Oversight, a nonpartisan watchdog group that focuses on contracting, has raised repeated concerns about the contracting of embassy security operations and last year urged that the task in volatile region be in-sourced to State Department employees.
The group specifically cited the Afghan situation. “If there's a better argument for making this mission an inherently governmental function, this situation is it,” POGO’s executive director Danielle Brian said in 2011. “We've got one discredited company to be replaced by another discredited company."(source)
Senior officials in Libyaon Wednesday condemned the killing of the U.S. ambassador to the country and three other Americans by armed protesters in a furor over an anti-Muslim video.
The mob sacked the U.S. Consulate in the eastern city of Benghazi on Tuesday, killing Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three U.S. government employees.
The attack came hours after a demonstration in Cairo, where protesters scaled the wall of the U.S. Embassy and pulled down the American flag in anger over the video, produced in the United States, which protesters said mocked the prophet Muhammad.
"This is a criminal act that will not go unpunished. This is part of a series of cowardice acts by supporters of the former regime who want to undermine Libya's revolution," Prime Minister Abdurrahim Keib told reporters. Photos: The death of Christopher Stevens Keib said the details of the attack were under investigation. Libyan President Mohamed Magariaf apologized for the deaths and vowed that justice would be served.
"We refuse that our nation's lands be used for cowardice and revengeful acts. It is not a victory for God's Sharia or his prophet for such disgusting acts to take place," Magariaf said. "We apologize to the United States, the people of America, and the entire world. We and the American government are standing on the same side, we stand on the same side against outlaws."
Photos: The death of Christopher Stevens The killing of Stevens and the other U.S. personnel is a severe test to the relationship between Libya and the West after an air campaign by the United States and its NATO allies helped Libya's current leadership topple Moammar Kadafi's regime in 2011. Even as NATO aircraft targeted Kadafi's military forces, concerns were raised regarding the radical Muslim element hidden in Libyans' revolt against the longtime strongman.
Early Wednesday morning, President Obama released a statement: "I strongly condemn the outrageous attack on our diplomatic facility in Benghazi, which took the lives of four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens. Right now, the American people have the families of those we lost in our thoughts and prayers. They exemplified America's commitment to freedom, justice, and partnership with nations and people around the globe, and stand in stark contrast to those who callously took their lives."
Obama concluded his statement saying, "The brave Americans we lost represent the extraordinary service and sacrifices that our civilians make every day around the globe. As we stand united with their families, let us now redouble our own efforts to carry their work forward."
A White House official said national security advisor Tom Donilon first briefed the president on the violence in Benghazi on Tuesday afternoon, at the top of a weekly meeting with the Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey.
The president was updated throughout the evening, and notified late Tuesday that Stevens was unaccounted for. Obama learned Wednesday that Stevens was confirmed dead Wednesday morning, the official said. In a statement Wednesday, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said one of the other dead was Sean Smith, an information management officer with the State Department and a 10-year veteran of the foreign service who had served in Iraq, South Africa, Canada and the Netherlands.
He was a husband and father of two, the statement said. U.S. officials have yet to identify the other victims. Wanis al-Sharif, Libya's deputy minister of the interior, told the Associated Press that Stevens and three others had died as the crowd torched the consulate in Benghazi hours after demonstrators scaled the wall of the U.S. Embassy in Cairo in protest over the anti-Muslim video.
A Twitter message from Libya's deputy prime minister, Mustafa Abu Shagur, condemned the death of Stevens and the other American personnel killed in the attack.
The protesters in Benghazi set fire to the consulate and fired guns into the air in protest over the film, according to Reuters reporters on the scene. Looters reportedly grabbed desks, chairs and even washing machines from the empty compound. Egyptian protesters had earlier gathered at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo in protest over a video that they said mocked the prophet Muhammad, claiming it had been made by Egyptian Coptic immigrants in the U.S.
The Cairo protesters pulled down the U.S. flag, and in its place raised a black flag that read: "There is no God but Allah and Muhammad is his prophet" before Egyptian security forces sought to tame the crowd. As night fell, protesters continued to gather outside the embassy in one of the biggest demonstrations in the city since the fall of Hosni Mubarak's government early last year. Security forces surrounded the embassy compound to prevent protesters from again storming it, though some demonstrators remained on the wall, waving black flags.
As many as 2,000 demonstrators rallied outside the embassy in a gathering called by the conservative Islamic Salafist movement.(source)
I'm a proud American more concerned with the truth than I am gaining friends.
I find that those who've never lived anywhere beyond where they were raised are more convinced about what others think and feel in life. It can be the poor uneducated wretch who can't stand those who don't look or sound like him, or the smug self-righteous fool who is convinced that Americans are racist xenophobes.
Generalities are easy for those who've never challenged themselves.
Just because you write a check to Greenpeace, the ACLU, or your favorite liberal cause doesn't excuse the way you sneer and hate on Christian fundamentalists who are trying to help others the best way they know.
How you made your money matters as much as how you ended up in jail. You're no more righteous for lying to clients and customers as you amassed your funds than the thief who robs you in the night.
I admire the person who makes a living from doing instead of selling. I've done both in life and I know the feeling you're left with at the end of the day. Just because you're a smooth talker and have mastered the art of sounding sincere doesn't impress me.