Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Warships - Marines, Drones, heading to Libya

WASHINGTON - The Pentagon dispatched a contingent of Marines to Libya, moved warships toward its coast, and planned to use drones in a stepped up search for those responsible for an attack on a U.S. consulate that killed the American ambassador and three others.

A senior military official told CNN that the Pentagon and other agencies would review a video of Tuesday's assault by heavily armed militants on the diplomatic compound in Benghazi that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens, another diplomat and two security personnel.

Breaking: photos of slain US ambassador surface

Photos purporting to be of slain US Ambassador Christopher Stevens being dragged through the streets have begun surfacing on Libyan and Arabic TV networks. 

The Consulate was attacked by a group of protesters angry over a film that ridiculed Islam's Prophet Muhammad, according to the Associated Press, but evidence now indicate the attack was a premeditated plot by an al Qadea 
"This was a coordinated attack, more of a commando-style event," House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers, R-Mich., told CBS News Capitol Hill producer Jill Jackson. "It had both coordinated fire -- direct fire and indirect fire. There appeared to be military maneuvers approaching the facility."

U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens and three other Americans died in the attack.
Stevens, a diplomat and lawyer, was the first U.S. ambassador killed in the line of duty since 1979.

His ties to the Bay Area ran broadly and deeply. Born and raised in Piedmont, Stevens attended Piedmont High School before graduating from the University of California, Berkeley in 1982, and the University of California, Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco in 1989.

Murdered American diplomat - a gamer - posted he might die before consulate attack.

One of the American diplomats killed Tuesday in a bloody attack on a Libyan Consulate told pals in an online gaming forum hours earlier that he'd seen suspicious people taking pictures outside his compound and wondered if he and his team might "die tonight."

Sean Smith, a foreign service information management officer assigned to the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, was well known in the online gaming forum EVE Online, where he went by the name "vilerat," and was seen as a leader by his fellow gamers. Smith was killed along with three others, including U.S. Ambassador to Libya J. Christopher Stevens, when the consulate was attacked by an angry mob.

But hours before the bloody assault, Smith sent a message to Alex Gianturco, the director of "Goonswarm," Smith's online gaming team or "guild."

“Assuming we don’t die tonight,” the message, which was first reported by Wired, read. “We saw one of our ‘police’ that guard the compound taking pictures.”

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Attacks were premeditated - planned by al Qaeda ..

(CBS/AP) U.S. officials believe that an attack on a U.S. Consulate in Libya resulting in the death of an American ambassador may have been planned and not solely the actions of a spontaneous mob demonstrating against an online video ridiculing Islam's Prophet Muhammad.
"This was a coordinated attack, more of a commando-style event," House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers, R-Mich., told CBS News Capitol Hill producer Jill Jackson. "It had both coordinated fire -- direct fire and indirect fire. There appeared to be military maneuvers approaching the facility."
U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens and three other Americans died in the attack on the U.S. Consulate in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi Tuesday.
A U.S. source told CBS News investigative producer Pat Milton that authorities were "leaning" toward the theory that al Qaeda planned the attack and that the protest seems to have been a fortuitous coincidence for the militants. The fact that some of the attackers were armed with rockets and grenades is one of the factors leading to that initial conclusion.
Rogers told Jackson there was a "high likelihood" that the attack had an affiliation with "al Qaeda elements in Libya."
Wanis al-Sharef, a Libyan Interior Ministry official in Benghazi, said there had been threats that Islamic militants might try to take revenge for the death of al Qaeda's No. 2 commander Abu Yahya al-Libi, who was killed in a U.S. drone strike in Pakistan in June, and he said the U.S. consulate should have been better protected.
Confirming al-Libi's death for the first time in a video posted online Monday, al Qaeda chief Ayman Al-Zawahri called on Muslims in al-Libi's native Libya to take revenge for his death.
Some authorities are looking at the possibility that the attack may have been planned to coincide with the anniversary of the Sept. 11 terror attacks and this week's killing in Yemen of Saeed al-Shihri, who was second in command of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, Milton reports.
U.S. officials believe the militants were using the demonstration against the video as a cover to get into the consulate and then take as much revenge as they could on Americans, CBS News national security correspondent David Martin reports.
"Absolutely it's a terrorist attack," Rogers told Jackson. "This was not done by the Libyan government. It was done by an external group we believe has at least extremist ties, maybe al Qaeda ties, and the style and the signature of the attack clearly would be something that we have seen before and would be in line with something al Qaeda would do."
Military officials told CBS News an anti-terrorism team of U.S. Marines was being deployed to Libya to help secure U.S. interests in the country following the attack. The State Department said, however, that no Americans were remaining at the facility in Benghazi. State officials would not confirm how many Americans were evacuated, or to where.
Al-Sharef said Stevens, 52, and other officials were moved to a second building - deemed safer - at the consulate compound after the initial wave of the attack. According to al-Sharef, members of the Libyan security team seem to have indicated to the attackers the building to which the American officials had been relocated, and that building then came under attack.
Stevens was the first U.S. ambassador to be killed in the line of duty since 1979. A Libyan doctor who said he treated Stevens told The Associated Press Wednesday that the diplomat died of severe asphyxiation and that he tried for 90 minutes to revive him.

Killer drones headed to the hunt in Libya


A senior U.S. official tells CNN that U.S.  drones are expected to begin flying over Benghazai and other locations in eastern Libya to look for jihadi encampments and targets that may be tied to the attack on U.S. State Department personnel.

 The proposal for use of drones is expected to be approved shortly by the Pentagon and the White House, CNN’s Pentagon Correspondent Barbara Starr reported.

The official said the plan is for U.S. surveillance drones to gather the intelligence and then hand it off to the Libyans to strike the targets.

Pro- al Qaeda group linked to consulate attack

A pro-al Qaeda group responsible for a previous armed assault on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi is the chief suspect in Tuesday's attack that killed the U.S. ambassador to Libya, sources tracking militant Islamist groups in eastern Libya say.

 They also note that the attack immediately followed a call from al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri for revenge for the death in June of a senior Libyan member of the terror group Abu Yahya al-Libi. The group suspected to be behind the assault -- the Imprisoned Omar Abdul Rahman Brigades -- first surfaced in May, when it claimed responsibility for an attack on the International Red Cross office in Benghazi.

 The following month the group claimed responsibility for detonating an explosive device outside the U.S. Consulate, and later released a video of that attack. Noman Benotman, once a leading member of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group and now based at the Quilliam Foundation in London told CNN, "An attack like this would likely have required preparation. This would not seem to be merely a protest which escalated."

Marine "Fast Teams" being sent to Libya - Egypt.

A US military official says several teams of 50 Marines (Fast Teams) are being dispatched to the Libyan city of Benghazi, and Cairo, Egypt to secure the U.S. consulates & embassy after attacks Tuesday left four Americans dead including the U.S. ambassador.

The US is also looking to head off other attacks on more US facilities, anticipating a "ripple effect" from an anti-Islam film that is prompting the wave of assaults on US consular stations.

The official said a Marine "fast team" is being sent from the U.S. Naval base in Rota, Spain. They are not yet on the ground. Other teams and assets are also being deployed to protect other official consular outposts in the area.

The move comes after President Obama ordered "all necessary resources" provided to Libya to support the security of U.S. personnel in the country. 

In a statement, Obama also said he's directed his administration to "increase security at our diplomatic posts around the globe."

Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other American staff members were killed in the attacks Tuesday. 

U.S. posts are on alert amid protests, so far in Libya and Egypt, over a film that ridiculed Islam's Prophet Muhammad. 

The senior military official clarified Wednesday that despite some reports, no Marines were killed in the Tuesday attack. The military, the source said, has not been asked by the State Department to assist with any evacuations. 

Ripple effect - expect more violence against Americans because of anti-Islam movie

KABUL, Afghanistan -- President Hamid Karzai on Wednesday condemned an American-made film that mocks Islam, galvanizing fears among Westerners that the Afghan leader's denunciation could be read as a go-ahead to stage violent protests.
The presidential palace said in a statement that Karzai "strongly and resolutely denounces this desecrating act" and expressed "abhorrence in the face of such an insult."
The film, clips of which were disseminated by fringe Florida pastor Terry Jones, has already prompted deadly violence in Libya, where the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans were killed in an attack on the consulate in Benghazi on Tuesday. The U.S. Embassy in Cairo also came under assault.
Karzai's statement did not mention the attacks in Libya and Egypt.
Afghans tend to have hair-trigger sensibilities regarding any perceived insult to the Muslim faith. Earlier this year, the country was torn by lethal unrest after U.S. troops mistakenly burned copies of the Koran at Bagram air base, north of the capital. About three dozen people died, including four American troops.
A condemnation from Karzai was thought to have inflamed passions in the spring of 2010, after Jones and his followers staged a Koran-burning. Nearly two weeks elapsed without any reaction in Afghanistan, until Karzai issued a call for Jones' arrest and prosecution. The next day, April 1, a furious mob descended on the U.N. mission in the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif, killing seven foreign U.N. workers.
Karzai's public stance toward the NATO force and his U.S. patrons has been somewhat hostile of late. He issued a strident statement accusing the United States of disregarding Afghan sovereignty after American authorities retained some Taliban and other insurgent suspects when handing the country's main military detention facility over to Afghan control. And the Afghan leader commemorated Tuesday's anniversary of the 9/11 attacks by criticizing the West's conduct of the war in Afghanistan.

Four Americans killed over a movie

The U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other American staff members were killed Tuesday in an attack on the U.S. consulate in the Libyan city of Benghazi, the White House confirmed. 

President Obama, in a written statement issued Wednesday morning, called the attack "outrageous" and "senseless." 

Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens was killed Tuesday night when he and a group of embassy employees went to the consulate to try to evacuate staff. The protesters, angry over a film that ridiculed Islam's Prophet Muhammad, were firing gunshots and rocket-propelled grenades. 

"I strongly condemn the outrageous attack on our diplomatic facility in Benghazi, which took the lives of four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens," President Obama said in a statement Wednesday morning. "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 said he's directed the administration to provide "all necessary resources" to support security for U.S. personnel in Libya and to increase security at diplomatic offices around the world. 
"While the United States rejects efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others, we must all unequivocally oppose the kind of senseless violence that took the lives of these public servants," he said. 

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