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American Envoy Killed in Arab Uprising

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American Envoy Killed in Arab Uprising

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A surge of anti-American violence in three Arab countries on September 11 resulted in the death of four Americans, including Foreign Service Officer Sean Smith and Ambassador Christopher Stevens.

AFP/Getty Images
Embassy chaos: Egyptian protesters tear down the U.S. flag at the U.S. embassy in Cairo, Egypt (Sept. 11, 2012).

“Gunmen attacked and set fire to the U.S. consulate in the eastern city of Benghazi, the cradle of last year’s U.S.-backed uprising against Muammar Gaddafi’s 42-year rule,” Reuters reported. “Another assault was mounted on the U.S. embassy in Cairo…Violence also threatened to spread to other Muslim countries. By nightfall on [September 12], 24 hours after the attacks in Egypt and Libya, police were firing teargas at angry demonstrators outside the U.S. embassy in Tunisia.”

Violent protests also occurred at the consulate in Yemen, but did not result in any deaths.

The Americans were killed in Libya’s second-largest city “in protests that used as their pretext a hitherto unknown amateur film designed to insult the prophet Muhammad,” The Christian Science Monitor stated.

In response, United States President Barack Obama issued a public statement in which he said that the U.S. “condemns in the strongest terms this outrageous and shocking attack,” and gave orders to “increase our security at diplomatic posts around the world.” He also “confirmed that a 50-strong US marine antiterrorist security team had been dispatched to Libya to bolster security and aid efforts to find those responsible,” according to Telegraph.

After the attacks, “A member of the Senate intelligence committee…raised the possibility that attacks on U.S. diplomatic missions in the Middle East and North Africa…were connected to al Qaeda,” The Washington Times reported. “[Senator] Bill Nelson, Florida Democrat, said the attacks ‘have the markings of revenge by al Qaeda.’ He said they could be connected to the killing in June of Abu Yahya al-Libi, a top leader of the terrorist network.”

Ambassador Stevens is the first U.S. diplomat to be killed in the line of duty since 1979.

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