September 12th, 2012
08:29 PM ET

Comments: Deadly Benghazi attack illustrates complexity of Middle East politics

Editor's note: We're listening to you. Readers often post thought-provoking comments about issues in the news, and we like to highlight them when we can.

It has been an eventful week in the Middle East, and readers are talking about a lot of things. Here are three themes that came up:

1. AMBASSADOR KILLED IN 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 Chris Stevens, the U.S. ambassador to Libya, sources tracking militant Islamist groups in eastern Libya say.

Pro-al Qaeda group seen behind deadly Benghazi attack

Readers shared their thoughts and theories about connections to al Qaeda, and talked about their views on what should be done about the attack.

CNN's sources note that the attack 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. Several commenters on this particular article were eager to see action taken.

JohnRJohnson: "I think, with that phone call, al-Zawahiri has just increased the likelihood that he will soon be vaporized by a missile from out of the blue. Al Qaeda declared war on the United States back in 1998. Since then, I've heard no declarations of peace coming from any of the al Qaeda leadership; therefore they should continue to expect our ongoing efforts to eliminate them from the face of the Earth. Al-Zawahiri is a mental case who gave up being a healer to become a murderer of innocent people. His time will come soon enough."

justice786: "As an American Muslim, I agree with you. Al Qaeda needs to be terminated."

WWWYKI: "Does anybody think trying to make peace with a culture that murders their own daughters in a public setting for the audacity of getting raped is even possible?"

One commenter said they are from Libya and are upset about what happened to Stevens.

"I am a Libyan citizen, recently graduated from high school abroad in Europe and back in Benghazi, Libya, now. I must say those who have committed this outrageous and cowardly criminal act must be chased, captured, tortured and then executed. Why would they put our foreign interest and relations into risk!!! A diplomat like Chris Stevens only seeks the interest of both his own nation and the nation that is hosting him. I just hope that the criminals will be brought to justice. R.I.P to Chris Stevens and to his staff members and to those Libyans who died protecting the staff."

2. BROADER IMPLICATIONS

Noman Benotman, a former leader of a jihadist organization and current critic of jihadist and Islamist violence, opined that whoever was behind the Benghazi attack may have hoped to spread the results to a broader population. The brewing controversy over an amateur film produced in the United States may have provided the perfect vehicle, Benotman said.

Opinion: What jihadists want you to believe about Libya

His article got a varied reaction; several readers in this case said they wanted to see less U.S. involvement in foreign affairs.

pogostick: "I am sure that the killing of bin Laden unleashed the angry of radical Muslims. I was waiting for something like this to happen and expect there will be more retaliations. I also believe, like the article says, that the jihadists think that all Muslims will now rally to their cause. Will they? In spite of the 9/11/01 nightmare and many other incidents, we keep buying oil from them. We buy their oil and our money enriches their economy, yet at the same time they hate us. The whole situation is insane. When are we going to get out of these countries and let them continue killing one another? Sadly, there is no end in sight."

50mike58: "Send in the warships. Lay waste to that fourth-world country and put an end to that evil religion. Sick and tried of letting them walk all over us. Obama needs to stand up and fight for this country or get the hell out of the way and let someone in who will. Attacking and murdering our ambassadors is an act of war; the longer we let it go unanswered, the more it will happen again and again, and get worse and worse until we have another 9/11."

Some of the posters wondered if it is possible to separate the actions of a few and a many.

orlandojon: "You can't separate friendly Muslims from the enemy in those countries because they blend in. Ask the U.S. soldiers about the difficulty in telling them apart. Many of our servicemen die every day trusting so-called government officials and police. We have to treat them as the enemy that they are until they eliminate terrorists themselves."

This person said they hope for peace, but some aren't sure it's possible.

Christian Desrosiers: "At a time when America is being criticized around the world for all sorts of things, legitimately or not, and at a time where some of the sharpest critics of current American foreign policy are actually American politicians themselves (that aspect is really new), I will nonetheless say that people like Mr. Stevens are precisely why in conversations I regularly defend America and, especially, Americans. The world in general, and the West in particular, needs people like Mr. Stevens, who are not just talking the talk about how democracy is a universal value, but who actually do walk the walk and go to places like Libya to help build democracy in a society that has lived under a dictator for decades."

OhRReally: "This attack wasn't about winning the support of local Libyans as the article suggests, it's about repelling the support of the American people; without American support, the local Libyans have no chance against these extremists who hope to take over."

3. FILM CONTROVERSY

Little is known about the man, identified by The Wall Street Journal as "Sam Becile," who is said to be behind the film "Innocence of Muslims." Protests in Egypt and Libya have been attributed to the film, but it remains unclear whether the Benghazi attack was solely incited by the movie. Stevens and three other Americans died in that incident.

Questions surround man behind anti-Islam film

Several readers expressed skepticism about Sam Bacile, including the following poster.

"Well, Bacile makes a movie insulting to Islam; didn't he know what would happen? The answer is yes, that's why he protected himself by using a false name - unfortunately, he threw America to the dogs and risked the life of every American. But what does he care? This movie hurts U.S. relations with Muslims, but that's what Bacile and Klein wanted because bad U.S. relations with Muslims is good for Israel. This doesn't mean the loonies that attacked our embassies are right - just that this outcome, or something similar, was exactly what was intended by those who made the film. The 100 wealthy Jews who paid for it, as well as Mr. Klein, should be deported to Israel, they are traitors and violated our American principles of religious respect. Kick them all out."

But another person took a different view, saying they suspected the film might have actually been intended to reflect poorly on Jewish people.

AndyDaniel: "Call me skeptical regarding this "'funded by 100 Jews' thing but as American Jew I don't think most Jews would have an interest in funding an anti-Islamic film. The Jewish attitude toward other faiths is that God chose the Jewish people to follow his laws and that non-Jews are exempt from most of them (for example, a non-Jew working on the Sabbath or eating shellfish is not viewed as a sin). So there is very little attitude one way or the other among Jews about other religions. This movie appears to have been made to create anger among Muslims; the 'funded by 100 Jews' claim might be made up to create anger against Jews, because somebody wants to incite violence."

Readers talked about free speech and the ability to produce content of this sort.

cavalier1138: "The film is an abhorrent piece of trash that is one man's pathetic attempt to say, 'My imaginary friend is better than your imaginary friend!' That said, we have free speech in this country. And Muslims are forbidden from depicting their prophet. That doesn't mean anyone else is. I'm not Muslim, so I can depict whoever I please. Killing anyone over this is idiotic."

armchrexpert: "Even if this was protected free speech, I wonder if we couldn't arrest the filmmakers and promoters anyway for incitement to violence or 'national security reasons.' Maybe we could even extradite them to Egypt. Freedom of speech is not absolute. You can't libel or slander, you can't violate a trade secret or nondisclosure agreement. You can't disclose national secrets. You can't incite to violence. You can't threaten the president or anyone else for that matter. We do NOT have unlimited free speech. As long as some Muslims have strong religious feelings about certain activities that they consider sacrilegious, we have some responsibility to learn to respect their beliefs, or there is no hope of peace. If that needs to be enforced by placing further limits on the free speech provision of the Constitution, than I'm willing to live with that."

How best to express one's views?

Joeymom: "Dear Protesters: In the world of free speech, the best way to make offensive speakers go away is to ignore them, not bring them attention through loud protests and attacks. No one had even heard of this bad flick, and now we all know it. It would have been smarter to let it die in obscurity."

Jalek: "How many of them do you think actually saw it anyway? I'm sure, like most often, they heard someone say they saw something and off they went."

What do you think? What will happen now? Share your opinion in the comments area below and in the latest stories on CNN.com. Or sound off on video via CNN iReport.

Compiled by the CNN.com moderation staff. Some comments edited for length or clarity.

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Filed under: Comments • Egypt • Libya • Politics • Religion • World
soundoff (24 Responses)
  1. saywhat

    no complexities there. We wanted Ghddafi out though contrary to what was portrayed there was no popular uprising. We aided and abetted the 'rebels' including outside forces playing on the tribal rivalry. It is now another Somalia.
    Ditto for Syria where Al-Qaeda seems to be our partner now.
    In Egypt. People had shown their anger on our continuing to prop up the military rulers after Mubarak's ouster and wanted no interference from us. They had clearly demonstrated this when Hillary visited Egypt recently ( unreported by our media). This sentiment on the ground would erupt on slightest of excuses. We cannot leave enough alone.

    September 12, 2012 at 8:36 pm | Report abuse |
  2. saywhat

    constantly finding ways to revile and insult a faith which has 1.2 billion plus followers knowingly and with deliberation to provoke is bound to do just that.

    September 12, 2012 at 8:39 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Dr. donald Lewis Law

    In the old days we always had the military posted armed in all of the Consulates in the world and if we had some then the ones climbing over the walls would be shot. So where is our pertection over seas toda???.

    September 12, 2012 at 8:57 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Dr. DCallonald Lewis Law

    Call in the Marines and take back the USA property and anyone dares to do this then level the area...

    September 12, 2012 at 9:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Portland tony

      War is so glamorous and manly when you're standing 3000 miles from the front lines!

      September 12, 2012 at 9:54 pm | Report abuse |
  5. bobcat (in a hat)©

    Since the populations of these African and ME countries has show there extreme objection to our presence, it would be in the best interest of the US to immediately remove all troops and resources from said areas. Immediately cut off all aid to them as well. if the populace wants to be controlled by extermist radical units, then so be it. We have shed enough blood in those countries and these people will just continue to flow with the tide. If they're told to attack us they will do do so. If these people are told to honor us, they will do so. They have no minds of their own and are incited to violence as easily as them sitting down to dinner. Let them have their life the way they want it. It is not our place to try to transform them from a life they've been living for thousands of years.

    September 12, 2012 at 9:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ben

      kind of funny that these all happend where there were no troops and where ther are troops it didn't happen???

      September 13, 2012 at 4:10 pm | Report abuse |
  6. saywhat

    yes@bobcat
    We need to get our military boot print out of places where we are not wanted
    permit me to say that before 9/11 and its aftermath plunging the world into an unending cycle of wars and bloodshed, these countries where we now see turmoil were viable with the populace wanting to have a say in their affairs and aspirations like any other people.
    All that changed.

    September 12, 2012 at 9:37 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Portland tony

    I like a lot of Americans am just plain sick of meaningless war. Apparently, everybody but you knew of the stockpiles of chemicals Assad has scattered through out Syria to brew poison gas etc..for years. You want to needlessly put Americans in harms way to try and neutralize the stuff..You can be sure our satellite and ground surveillance will tell us if one Sunni' rebel group gets within 10 miles of the stuff!

    September 12, 2012 at 9:48 pm | Report abuse |
  8. saywhat

    The Israeli real estate developer Sam Bisseil or Bissel who produced the film insulting Islam and their prophet duped the cast and crew of 80.
    "They were misled" they say into believing that it would be a 'desert adventure' .Then characters like prophet Muhammed and others were brought in during the filming to promote the theme and real agenda.
    Why should we condone such evil attempts to provoke and incite violence in the name of freedom of speech.
    Would this real estate developer who wanted to express his hate driven by personal demons to produce a film like to see someone produce a film negating or questioning the Holocaust in the name of freedom of speech?

    September 12, 2012 at 9:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Frank

      Beause in America everyone has the right to Freedom of Speech even Speech someone does not agree with or like.

      September 12, 2012 at 9:56 pm | Report abuse |
  9. bobcat (in a hat)©

    @ saywhat

    I don't know if you remember my comments at the beginning of the Libya debical, but I was saying all along that we were doing nothing more than opening up that territory to al queda. It's seems that has now happened and I believe the people of Libya will not be able to reverse. Harsh lesson to learn.
    In Syria too, we have managed to supply al queda. That's another area that is going to come back and bite us in the rump.
    Iran, even though Israel says otherwise, is not an immediate threat to anyone. I give President Obama a lot of credit for not letting us get goaded into a war that they want.

    September 12, 2012 at 9:56 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Portland tony

    That's what they said about the Italians, Germans, Irish, Blacks and Jews about 100 years ago.

    September 12, 2012 at 10:00 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Jeff Frank (R-Ohio) "The Lunatic Fringe"

    This Frank? Don't give him any guns or ammo, or let him know where any Batman Premieres are playing.

    September 12, 2012 at 10:20 pm | Report abuse |
  12. ronvan

    ISN'T IT WONDERFUL!!? WE have freedom of speech! WE can say whatever we want! OOPS! There is NOW an exception. Can't say anything about muslims! It makes them angry and by their "teaching & religion" you are now subject to being killed! Are ALL muslims religious fanatics? What about those in the USA that we hear about killing, dismembering, members of their OWN family because they disobeyed their "teachings"? I am really begining to wonder? WE are the ONLY country to ever drop atomic bombs on another country! ALL of the sanctions, political back and forth has had NO impact in dealing with these countries except to punish the normal every day people. YES, I agree WE need to get the heck out of all these two bit, wanna be, countries and let them live & fight their OWN problems! A CLEAR & STERN statement that if ANY country involved conducts an attack on American soil, which includes embassies, that the drones & bombs will follow until those countries kill or run out all terrorists within their borders. The time for the USA to STOP being the worlds police force is way past due! And for the ones who made this worthless film that incited muslims to violence, as if they needed a reason, they should be put in jail, charged with murder!

    September 12, 2012 at 10:39 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Wynanda

    all religions are teachers of hate some more than others,however in my opinion the Islam religion is the worst.Stay away from religions and become spiritual on your own.I agrre with those who find it time the USA stops aiding all these countries and peoples who hate Americans.All Arab countries for some reason do hate the USA but gladly accept the billions of dollars we give them. In global times this will not be easy but it is a must for our own good and TO TEACH THEM !!They could not be without the USA aid.This way we can reconstruct our own country.I would say let them suffer for 25 years. Also people like the maker of this film is just after fame.This is a real sickness of today.Everybody is looking to be famous,lets try being humble for the next 25 years as well. There is a lot wrong within these USA as we all know very well.

    September 13, 2012 at 3:41 am | Report abuse |
  14. Story Girl

    Propaganda is the only word that comes to me. We are in an intense extreme cultural clash. The internet has connected the cultures but like money in the hands of the corrupt it can be used as such. This so called Israel /American filmmaker is a blatant alias more than likely a coptic christian from Egypt. So its ok to depict Christ in any form and fashion..its all right to burn the American Flag and kill innocent people who never even knew a film existed and a very poor one no one here would even entertain. Well because of a people who have no control or restraint apparently, who can not even fathom freedom of speech and its meaning their film is now widespread due to their own behavior..innocent blood is on their hands. I guess it makes me want to run to Christianity. I much prefer a God of Love!

    September 13, 2012 at 8:40 am | Report abuse |
  15. Ben

    To the comment that supports the restriction of free speech scares me... If you really believe what you are saying then the entire staff of south park should be jailed for the offensive depictions of Jesus on their shows.
    I don't like the film I think its wrong, but you enable the attacks when you say things like that. It's like rewarding a child for having a tantrum when they know they get what they want for screaming and acting out it only gets worse.

    September 13, 2012 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
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