Slain ambassador warned in '08 about extremists near Benghazi
September 12th, 2012
03:32 PM ET

Slain ambassador warned in '08 about extremists near Benghazi

Before he became U.S. ambassador to Libya, J. Christopher Stevens warned in a 2008 diplomatic cable of jihadist sentiment growing not far from Benghazi.

Stevens, who became ambassador to Libya this year,  was killed this week in an attack that U.S. sources tell CNN was planned by a pro-al Qaeda group of extremists. While it is not definitively clear whether this group, or what group specifically, is behind the attack, it's clear that Stevens expressed concern about a radical movement fomenting in the port city of Derna.

The cable was leaked in the trove that WikiLeaks released in 2010 and 2011, and CNN reported on it last year.

In his 2008 missive Stevens, who at the time was U.S. deputy chief of mission in the North African nation, wrote about that "one Libyan interlocutor likened young men in Derna to Bruce Willis' character in the action picture "Die Hard", who stubbornly refused to die quietly."

There is "frustration at the inability of eastern Libyans to effectively challenge" Moammar Gadhafi's regime, Stevens wrote.

That and "a concerted ideological campaign by returned Libyan fighters from earlier conflicts, have played important roles in Derna's development as a wellspring of Libyan foreign fighters in Iraq."

Moammer Gadhafi was killed in October 2011, at the hands of Libyans.

"Other factors include a dearth of social outlets for young people, local pride in Derna's history as a locus of fierce opposition to occupation, economic disenfranchisement among the town's young men. Depictions on satellite television of events in Iraq and Palestine fuel the widespread view that resistance to coalition forces is justified and necessary," Stevens wrote.

Stevens describes Derna: "The lower-middle class neighborhood, comprising poured concrete homes crowded along largely unpaved streets, sits on a hill overlooking the town ... A number of residents were on the streets; however, they were visibly more wary and less friendly than in other Libyan towns."

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Filed under: Libya
soundoff (485 Responses)
  1. Sal1975

    Why is it that we always have to generalize and group all Muslims, all Arabs ... together? Isn't that what Extremists in the middle east do? I'm an American Muslim. I was devastated on 9/11. I couldn't sleep for days because of how sad and angry I was. And by the way, I was not a citizen at the time, but I had a huge love for this country. I don't agree with so much of the American foreign policy. I don't agree with the foreign policy of many countries and mostly the ones in the middle east. My point is, not all Muslims (not even close to a small minority) are hateful people. just like not all Americans are whackos similar to this idiot who made this movie. If anything, he put many people in danger for a stupid movie that required no research and was based on no facts. He didn't care, and those stupid idiots in Libya don;t either. the rest of us have to be above both groups.

    September 13, 2012 at 10:37 am | Report abuse |
    • janey33

      But your religion IS full of hate for Infidels. I have studied it extensively. Read your own Quran. And we don't group all Muslims and Arabs together. Not all Arabs are Muslim and not all Muslims are Arab. But thanks for your posting. It's good to know that you love this country and I wish you all the best in youir life here.

      September 13, 2012 at 10:51 am | Report abuse |
    • Go Ducks

      The question I have for you is if Islam is such a peaceful religion then why don't the Imams of the world and the Muslim population in general rise up and speak out against these "extremists" who are not only a poison in your religion, but a cancer in it as well? Why don't the Imams declare fatwahs on all extremists?

      This is why we condemn all of Islam.

      September 13, 2012 at 12:00 pm | Report abuse |
  2. DaveYoung

    Stevens should have warned Americans about the threat to America imposed by the election of muzlim sympathizer Obama and the HillaryBeast apologist. The so-called Arab Spring is a sham and an empowerment propagated by the bowels of Chicago politics.

    September 13, 2012 at 10:50 am | Report abuse |
  3. Dennis

    MG:All of us get a chance to "LOL" when we read your juvenile rants.Your savior will not change anything because he is not about to be elected to office.In the mean time,give yourself a chance to mature and grow up,okay?

    September 13, 2012 at 10:53 am | Report abuse |
  4. jimmer

    obama = could of had Ron Paul but you people want more of the same.

    Congratulations people.....spend into oblivion while the muslims kill us.......

    September 13, 2012 at 11:08 am | Report abuse |
    • Go Ducks

      Having Ron Paul as president wouldn't change jack. The whole government is corrupt and divided. Nothing got done on Obama's last watch, and nothing will get done on whoever is next's watch.

      September 13, 2012 at 11:40 am | Report abuse |
    • ds

      It is "could've – COULD HAVE", not "could of". Shocks me everytime – because it's not a typo but a sad testimony of the level of education in the United States. English is my 3rd language and I'd be ashamed to write the way you do.

      September 13, 2012 at 12:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • It is what it is

      Ron Paul is a nice guy, but he's clueless. The things that he's advocated doing would only work if he was a king. It's not that the American people want more of the same. Clearly they don't, and you saying that shows just how clueless YOU are. What Americans want is a leader who can work with people from the other side of the aisle, and with leaders around the world to get things done. Ron Paul isn't that man. Most Americans see that clearly, and that's why he has never gotten very far in his political career. If he was truly a leader, he'd be learning that what he is saying, while a wonderful dream, just isn't going to happen. Instead, he keeps playing the same old nut job broken record. I'm not very pleased with Obama OR Romney, but Paul isn't even on the radar.

      September 13, 2012 at 12:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Leslie

      Cable received on Bush's watch people!. Sound familiar? (9/11)

      September 13, 2012 at 1:14 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Beavis

    Obama, Change we can believe in. Change from a republican POTUS to a democratic POTUS.. That's about as far as the change went.

    September 13, 2012 at 11:11 am | Report abuse |
    • Rick

      Same ol thing ..just different idiots

      September 13, 2012 at 11:57 am | Report abuse |
    • ObjectiveGuy

      That, and a few trillion $ more in debt, no action in improving the economy in 4 years, and record high unemployment for this period of time.

      September 13, 2012 at 12:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Pliny

      Hey Objective Guy!

      That few trillion dollars were needed to cleanup the CRIMINAL NEGLECT OF THE REPUBLICAN ADMINISTRATION under bushy.

      Stop acting stupid.'s not an act.

      September 13, 2012 at 12:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • It is what it is

      Objective guy? Yeah. Right. You act like this back breaking debt is all Obama's fault. You act like unemployment is all Obama's fault. Check the facts. More debt was loaded on during Reagan, Bush Senior, and Bush Junior's administrations than any other administration, including Obama's. Bush Jr. relaxed banking and financial regulations to the point that the financial guys ran wild and cratered the economy. If you remember 4 short years ago, the economy collapsed in Bush's administration. I know. I was on Wall Street when it happened. The Republicans have allowed, and actually given tax breaks to companies shipping jobs off shore. All in the name of profit. The reason the economy continues to stumble is that because every time the Obama administration tries to do something positive to help, the Republicans block it. Why? Because, as they've stated time and time again, they'd rather see the economy stumble than give Obama any chance to be an effective president. I just don't get why most conservatives, who are generally lower-middle class, will vote for a guy (Romney) who has a history of sticking it to the middle class. If he gets elected, the very programs the lower middle class depends on (Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, etc) will be gutted, leaving hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people to fend for themselves if they are disabled or too old to work. Go ahead, vote for the guy, but when you get old enough to need some government help, rememeber, that's what you called "socialism" and were so excited about getting rid of. As you live in your kid's basement, your golden years full of cobwebs and being ignored, congratulate yourself on your decision to get a known wealthy elitist man from a rich family into office.

      September 13, 2012 at 12:59 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Albert Fields

    Dennis, can dish it out, but then you act like liberal! ...poor, poor Dennis!

    September 13, 2012 at 11:11 am | Report abuse |
  7. jav

    WELL said DaveYoung!

    September 13, 2012 at 11:11 am | Report abuse |
  8. MG.


    September 13, 2012 at 11:17 am | Report abuse |
  9. ABarker

    By no means do I support what this particular muslim community has done/is doing. I think their actions are disgraceful and wrongheaded. If their Muhammad is so all great and wonderful, his memory and teachings will survive someone else’s opinion.
    However, I see the word “dumb” being tossed around here a lot and that only makes you appear to be as unreasonable as the people you are criticizing. Just because someone has a different opinion from you doesn’t make them “dumb” or “unintelligent,” it just means they disagree with you. This world is built on opposing opinions and NO ONE should be belittled because of it. The American society has become one of the most judgmental, least tolerant in the world and that’s not only sad, it’s scary.

    Instead of acting like them, why don’t you show them how it should be done?

    September 13, 2012 at 11:23 am | Report abuse |
    • Richard (California)

      Great advice. Well said. Thanks for your post.

      September 13, 2012 at 11:35 am | Report abuse |
    • Go Ducks

      We have been divided up into neat little groups that oppose each other by the government so that we can be more easily manipulated and controlled.

      September 13, 2012 at 11:41 am | Report abuse |
    • Kanjaji

      @ABarker. In case you haven't noticed the Islamists have done a bit more than disagree or have an opposing view. This is not a debate at Oxford. It is a war.

      September 13, 2012 at 11:56 am | Report abuse |
    • Ron Burgundy

      Well most of them are not "dumb", but in fact dumb. Look at the education of most people in Africa and the Middle East, it is rarely above the education of a third grader in most first world countries. So there are a lot of mentally unadvanced minds in the area, who only know of violence to speak their minds.

      September 13, 2012 at 11:57 am | Report abuse |
    • Phbal1


      You're so right. It's should be ok for someone to be different or have a different opinion without being subjected to insults and belittling comments by people who obviously have no exposure beyond their own backyards.

      Americans need to understand that their way has worked for them, but it's not the only way and other people have a rich and illustrious history and culture that is worthy of respect. You should also not judge an entire people by the misguided violent acts of a few – just as you wouldn't want to be judged by the acts of the KKK or the numerous serial killers that pop up in America from time to time

      September 13, 2012 at 12:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • ObjectiveGuy

      The way that they express their displeasure, I.e. bombing embassies, killing diplomats and staffers, certainly is "dumb". I'm all for people having the right to express differences of opinion, but when a group of rabid terrorists start a series of planned attacks (to coincide with the anniversary of 9/11), then their behavior is beyond dumb, it is inhuman, and deserves a harsh response.

      September 13, 2012 at 12:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • PCola 360 Vet

      Your post made sense right up until you said 'least tolerant'. Are you KIDDING me, that's our problem, we TOLERATE too much, and lives are lost because of it. Here's a fact, Islam and the West do NOT mix, they do NOT believe in personal freedom, they do NOT believe women should have any power whatsoever, in gay unions, in being able to say what YOU want WHEN you want, plain and simple.

      They kill anyone and everyone who denounces their religion, and care not the consequences, to me that is a DANGEROUS mixture.

      We should either kick some serious ass and let them know that we can give as good as we get, or back the f off, and vacate the ME.

      September 13, 2012 at 1:42 pm | Report abuse |
  10. BifBuffo

    Where were the rapid response teams? Why did it take so long to get reinforcements to this embattled embassy. I didn't realize our embassies were that vulnerable in this well known Muslim hot spot of the world. Why isn't the media asking this question?

    September 13, 2012 at 11:30 am | Report abuse |
    • fiftyfive55

      read between the lines:all this will do is give us an excuse to start another war so munitons manufacturers can profit,who knows,maybe we'll even commandeer the oil fields so the oil companies can make more money on free oil

      September 13, 2012 at 11:42 am | Report abuse |
    • Go Ducks

      They didn't arrive in time because Libya is far away.

      September 13, 2012 at 11:42 am | Report abuse |
    • Jon

      Did I hear right? There were only 15 militants in the attack? How many Marines were assigned to that embassy?

      September 13, 2012 at 11:49 am | Report abuse |
    • BuffaloTom

      Haha Go Ducks, great response. The warships were deployed right away as far as I can tell. Everyone should be asking whether it was a good idea to topple Libya's previous government when right after Tripoli fell, the Al Qaeda flag was flying on the parliament building. And now Al Qaeda is calling for the support of Syrian rebels. Anyone who thinks the Libya problem was over, well...

      September 13, 2012 at 12:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • ephemeroptera1

      You people are some idiots. First, there is NOT an embassy in Benghazi, it is a consulate. Second, the Marines are stationed at the embassy which is in the capital city of Tripoli. How do you expect people to take your comments seriously when you have no clue about the basic facts? Dumb Americans.

      September 13, 2012 at 12:37 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Blucorsair

    "History teaches us that mankind never learns anything from history!" ...and Democrats who support Obama are a prime example of why they'll die in a war for Obama, but not Bush! ...go figure! ....Romney in 2012

    September 13, 2012 at 11:40 am | Report abuse |
    • Go Ducks

      Do you honestly believe that things are going to go any differently under Romney than under Obama? Every election is just smoke and mirrors and fireworks to distract us from the fact that our country sucks ass now thanks to generations of utterly corrupt and self-serving senators and congressmen, all the way from the local level to the federal government. Nothing is going to change the self-destructive course this country is on. Nothing short of a real armed revolution supported, or at least not opposed by, the military.

      September 13, 2012 at 11:45 am | Report abuse |
    • ObjectiveGuy

      I do believe that Romney will be able to jump start the economy, where Obama has completely failed to do so. At this point in time, most of our worlds have been crippled by this god-awful economy, so THAT is my first and foremost concern, so yes, I'm voting for Romney.

      September 13, 2012 at 12:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • BuffaloTom

      Except Objective Guy, the economy is going to come back naturally – it always does and it's a matter of time. However Romney is already calling for war with Iran and has called Russia our #1 geopolitical foe. Please enlighten me to the political wisdom of bringing back George Bush style neocon foreign policy? Because that is so popular right now, right?

      September 13, 2012 at 12:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tiredofviolence

      Really? Some of you Republican voters say things that don't make any sense much like your party leaders. Listen what happened is a derivative of decads of American abuse and "bully" actions. The history of this country was founded on, find something you like and take it, or make the other person think they are getting something for giving up something of more value. The real reason most Democratic voters support President Obama (respect for the office) is because he comes from a background similar to the majority of Americans who understand what it means to love your neighbor as yourself.

      September 13, 2012 at 12:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Aurora Chuck

      I agree with GO DUCKS about another civil war/revolution in these United States. This country is BROKE and there's no way to get out of the 100 trillion dollars of debt and unfunded liabilities! I say invest in gold and oil your guns!

      September 13, 2012 at 3:58 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Blucorsair

    "History teaches us that mankind never learns anything froM history!" ...but Democrats can tell you why they'll die in a war for Obama, but not Bush! ...Romney in 2012!

    September 13, 2012 at 11:47 am | Report abuse |
    • jwest

      fox news is so biased, they ought to make tires.

      September 13, 2012 at 12:02 pm | Report abuse |
  13. jwest

    fox news, caters only to the republicans, which is why i dont watch the damned thing. they may as well kiss my rear-end, like they do to the republicans.

    September 13, 2012 at 12:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • lhnus

      Rachel Madcow NSMBC will make you happy

      September 13, 2012 at 12:35 pm | Report abuse |
  14. TSB8C

    Warnings like this always go unheeded. We were warned before 9/11 but did nothing. Bin Laden attacked the world trade center while Clinton was prez and he did nothing. Obama was warned about extremists in Libya and did nothing but help them gain power.

    September 13, 2012 at 12:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • A

      You have no understanding of how complicated this is. World events are not that black and white. The amount of intelligence that our intelligence experts have to process and analyze is more than you can imagine.

      Do you know who the leader of Libya was prior to the uprising? Do you know his background and the terrorism he sponsored against us? Does Pan Am Flight 103 mean anything to you? He sponsored the group responsible for the Munich masacre at the 72 Olympics. He has supported dozens of international terrorist organizations from the Irish Republican Army to Colombian terrorist to the Middle Eastern and African terrorists. He assassinated Libyans and other critics outside of his country. Unfortunately we cannot control everything that happens in the World. Sorry. They are still trying to determine who is responsible and it does not seem to be the current government. The intelligence community has said that there was no warning of this attack. Just saying that we were "warned that extremists are in Libya." is not enough. You have to know who they are and what they intend to do.

      There is so much more to the story. The government cannot share everything and they cannot prevent everything. There have been a lot of lives saved under both the Bush administration and the Obama administration in thanks to the intelligence community and our military. I could list the ones that we know about but I sense you couldn't care less. You just want to spout out soundbites you heard. Read history and learn about the world.

      September 13, 2012 at 1:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Your Are So Right

      To: A – Dead on post. Thx.

      September 13, 2012 at 1:30 pm | Report abuse |
  15. stevel

    The movie was very offensive. But still they killed innocent Americans over there. We have given the Libyans 24 hours to find the killers,now its time for the US to take care of problem!! Warships moving as we speak,they need to calm down over there or deal with whats coming. President Obama has patience but won't put up with too much more BS ask al Qaeda whom his administration has almost eliminated!!

    September 13, 2012 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse |
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