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. Harry Kuheim

    In '08'? Are you kidding? It's 2012 Pal...the whole Middle East has changed since Obama took over and presided over the Islamofascist's revolutions all across the region.

    September 13, 2012 at 5:12 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Jan Leddon

    No diplomacy needed. People act like violent animals they get shot down like violent animals. It is a sad day when someone can breach our Embassy's and kill Diplomats. Doesn't the government get it. There is nothing that can be done to stop this hatred. It goes back to the beginning of time of "Isaac and Ishmael" .............all we can do is fight to protect our rights. Protect our people and push back with the might and force that this country has for those thugs who have nothing better to do in their day than to riot and kill and burn our flag. We are being taunted and it is time for a great big case of "whoop ass"..............ENOUGH. We need to pull out of these countries and protect Israel and let them deal with their own issues. It is a losing battle. The hate runs too deep with these extremist. Not all Muslims hate this Nation. The one's that do need to think twice before they climb our walls. I am so deeply saddened that we had diplomats helpless with no Military help from us to protect them. I see it as a severe breach of security and blame our policies and cuts for this travesty. It IS WHAT IT IS – and it is time that this country take on the view that Israel has and simply protect our Nation. I am incredibly angry and as an American – the blood shed for this country is NOT in vain. Climb our walls – you get shot and killed. You deal with this type of insanity with force. Stand up America and hit back hard. God Bless America. We let everyone have freedom of speech here. We allow all religions and we DO NOT kill because someone insults Christ.

    September 13, 2012 at 5:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jo Jo

      Obama caused this and Romney is right! When we start apologizing for our principles then we have lost! ...Obama must be stopped in 2012 at any cost! ...freedom is a precious commodity that 0bama doesn't coprehend! ..Romney/Ryan in 2012

      September 13, 2012 at 8:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • magy

      I am an Egyptian christian we know muslim they hate american and any other because islam lern them this god bless america

      September 13, 2012 at 9:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • another sad Mark

      did you notice how many times you mentioned Israel in your post?? what have we gotten from Israel since 1948 except trouble? I don't hate anyone, but, I hate our stupidity. Until when will we fight their fights? are we simply that stupid to be someone else's "attack dog"? I am angry as I am sad. But, it's time to look within our boarders, forget about Israel and forget about everything else, Lets focus on America for once. Lets not spend our money/blood somewhere else under any name.

      another Mark in the nation

      September 13, 2012 at 10:09 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Colony

    wow! why does it sound like its news to hear an American had died? How many Americans at home shoot down fellow Americans in a week in America. Lets stop the hypocrisy and not pretend that anything new has happened. When you poke your nose into someone else' matter this is what you get.

    September 13, 2012 at 8:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Valintina

      Well, your wonderful president seems to care as much as you do, he didn't even stop his fundraiser as the Ambassador was being dragged through the streets by potential male rapists!

      September 13, 2012 at 9:42 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Valintina

    When a Muslim declares that Islam is a religion of peace, he/she is either ignorant of the Koran (Qur'an), or is deceitfully thinking of this "peace", as it extends only to those within the Muslim Community. The deceit is that they will not tell you exactly what they mean. According to the Qur'an: "Muhammad is the Apostle of Allah. Those who follow him are merciful to one another, but ruthless to unbelievers" Surah 48:29. "Kill the Mushrikun (unbelievers) wherever you find them, and capture them and besiege them, and lie in wait for them in each and every ambush..." Surah 9:5. Also see Surah 9:29: PICKTHAL: "Fight against such of those who have been given the Scripture (Christians & Jews) as believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, and forbid not that which Allah hath forbidden by His messenger, and follow not the Religion of Truth, until they pay the tribute readily, being brought low.". Please note that there is not a single verse in the entire Christian Bible that contains this "open-ended", universal command to kill/or be ruthless to unbelievers.

    September 13, 2012 at 9:33 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Albert i


    September 13, 2012 at 9:39 pm | Report abuse |
  6. An Optimist

    Warned in 2008? I was there in Feburary walked all over the place day and night. Place was great except for the Turkish restraurant in the harbor that ripped us off, waiter was Algerian. Oh well.

    September 13, 2012 at 11:16 pm | Report abuse |
  7. paece

    Our Muslim brothers should learn to accept criticism, Just the other day there was these movie that criticized Jesus, you call Jesus a prophet, and we Christians consider him as messiah, did you see anyone throwing stones and killing innocent people?, religion should be a venue of peace regardless of situations, not the source of calamity and death of innocent people.

    September 14, 2012 at 12:08 am | Report abuse |
    • cybergrace

      Jesus would vomit at your racism and imperialism. The U.S./NATO just killed over 10,000 civilians and Africans in Libya over the past year! That is not "humanitarian intervention." That did not help Libyans, but the few that are now filthy rich for helping European and U.S. oil companies get control of the [formerly nationalized] largest oil reserves in Africa. No war for Big Oil, bring our troops home. Thou shalt not kill–and 10,000+ Libyans were killed before this very first American!
      – A Real Christian

      September 14, 2012 at 2:04 am | Report abuse |
    • Guest

      Cybergrace: Can we see your source for the 10,000+ civilians killed by U.S. and NATO. Because I hardly doubt that that figure is true. It might be 10. Maybe even 100, God forbid. But I highly doubt it is 10,000.

      September 14, 2012 at 10:36 am | Report abuse |
    • GJG

      Cybergrace.. are you serious? If so, you have no clue. Most Lybians are very greatful for what NATO did. The Lybian people, not just the government, are the only ones coming out in public with sentiment over the killings. There is more protesting in the streets of Lybia over anti-violence than anti-USA like the other countries. Have you seen any more anti-USA protestors from Lybia other than the intial protestors? Pay attention!

      September 14, 2012 at 10:43 am | Report abuse |
    • Smoke n Mirrors

      I geuss Ron Paul doesn't sound so crazy now. Get our troops HOME. Risking our most couragous citizens lives to defend a country our president apologizes for is a disgrace. The downward spiral continues. Maybe if people woke up and replaced the idea of Obama with the truth of Obama we would be headed towards a better place.

      September 14, 2012 at 11:32 am | Report abuse |
    • donny

      @Cybergrace – considering NATO specifically targetted munitions depots, vehicles, artillery positions, etc, it's highly doubtful they even killed 10,000 soldiers. Conservative estimates put civilian casualties caused by NATO around 40-50.

      September 14, 2012 at 12:43 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Aurora Chuck

    The press would rather hound Mitt Romney then ask Obama the tough questions regarding the Libya consulate attack. These are the questions I would ask Obama if I was a REAL journalist unlike the Obama lover journalists.

    1. President Obama, why did you continue to go to Las Vegas and Colorado campaigning when our sovereign territories in Libya was attacked?
    2. President Obama, how is it that our ambassador to Libya was at a consulate called a temporary facility without any marine protection, especially on the 11th anniversary of 9/11?
    3. President Obama, did you have and intelligence of any possible terrorist activity in that region leading up to the 9/11 anniversary?
    4. President Obama, will you now be attending more of your daily intelligence briefings now with all of these new uprisings around the world?
    5. President Obama, why are you going to the David Letterman show next Tuesday when radical groups are surrounding our US embassies across the world?

    Can you imagine how the press would be ALL OVER Bush if he behaved like Obama during this international crisis?

    September 14, 2012 at 11:05 am | Report abuse |
    • E. Lee Saffold

      I would like to hear some intelligent answers to your very good questions Aurora Chuck! Thank you!

      September 14, 2012 at 12:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • AnnaMerkin

      Some are good questions while others are a bit ridiculous. There's no reason to stop campaigning when the situation is being managed with the selective use of force and monitored by the Administration. I suppose everyone's an expert on diplomacy this week.

      September 14, 2012 at 6:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • MrUniteUs

      1. President was D.C. when the consulate in Libya was attacked.
      2. The Ambassador was where he wanted to be, in Benghazi where he was liked and respected by most Libyans.
      Crowds of Libyans publicy expressed their shock and grief. There were no attacks on the 10 previous 9-11 anniversarys anywhere in the world.
      3. Their is a possibility of a terrorist attack everyday in any country, foreign and domestic.
      4. The President has intelligence briefings everyday. Bush by contrast took a vacation from Aug 3 – September 3, and according to then CIA director George Tennent, had no communication with him. during that month.
      5. Amid uneasy calm in Cairo, prime minister says some were paid to protest. Hmm now who would pay and why,
      who thinks they would benefit? Re: Bush See answer to 4.

      September 16, 2012 at 4:28 am | Report abuse |
  9. LibsHateFacts

    48 HOUR NOTICE OF ATTACK IN LIBYA ON 9/11. OBAMA ADMINISTRATION DID NOTHING! CNN STILL HIDING THIS STORY. It had nothing to do with the video being shown. Nice try Obama sheep. Al Queda planned attack for 9/11 and Obama was too busy fund raising. This news is breaking today. You cannot hide this story anymore sheep. Time to blame the deaths on 9/11/2012 on Bush, racism, Fox News

    September 14, 2012 at 12:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Patchygroundfog

      LibsHateFact - You are both completely wrong and have a very short memory.

      First, the State Department warned the Cairo embassy 48 hours before the violence that there was "concern" about the attention an anti-Muslim video was getting on the Internet in Egypt. THAT WAS THE EXTENT OF THE CABLE - THERE WAS ABSOLUTELY NO MENTION OF AN ATTACK!!! (I'm shouting because I'm pretty sure some of you are either hearing impaired or simply won't hear the truth or don't like fact-checkers to get in the way of your twisted lies ... )

      Second, the 9/11/2001 terror attacks - the worst in history on American soil - occurred WHILE GEORGE W. BUSH WAS THE REPUBLICAN PRESIDENT! And the CIA had REPEATEDLY warned Bush earlier that year that a domestic terror attack was "imminent." He and Cheney refused to take their own intelligence direct and repeated warnings of an IMMINENT ATTACK IN THE U.S. seriously and they did nothing ...

      Check it out:

      Obama has kept us safe for almost four years, and now this is his fault? Get a freaking grip ...

      September 14, 2012 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • David

      Patchy Ground needs their head examined, if they think "obama wants to attack America" is supposed to be acitonable intel, or even NEWS for that matter, but a direct threat on a specific target is nothing to be prepared for 11 years later.

      What an absolute CROCK!!!!

      September 14, 2012 at 2:56 pm | Report abuse |
  10. TinKnight

    Uhm...this doesn't really seem to be prophetic of the attack on the American consulate so much as the rebellion that took place.

    His cable pretty accurately portrays those Libyans who rose up and led the rebellion that overthrew Qaddafi.
    Yes, perhaps the same individuals also attacked the US Consulate, but his cable doesn't really "predict" that...and they attacked due to a supposed American's actions, which couldn't have been predicted in 2008 (although, I guess, it's not hard to predict that somewhere some American would do something to upset people, since that's where we excel).

    September 14, 2012 at 1:32 pm | Report abuse |
  11. sylva-MD-poetry

    Let everyone know what Ottoman's did for
    honest dedicated Armenians...
    They slayed 1.5 million...
    Still they deny
    Can we forget all...!!!

    September 14, 2012 at 1:45 pm | Report abuse |
  12. David

    Still pretending this is about some movie is really pathetic.
    At best that was a spark that set off the powder keg of Anti-American hate that was already present before the Arab Spring. These are not peaceful people driven to this by a Youtube video. Why is this administration the only people who didn't see this coming a long time ago?

    September 14, 2012 at 2:52 pm | Report abuse |


    September 14, 2012 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |


    September 14, 2012 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
  15. chacha

    Well... I don't support hurting people's sentiment by mocking their religion. I also don't support violent protests. In my opinion, the rampant corruption, mass of uneducated people and poverty in the middle-east and african regions have turned these regions into a fertile ground for hooliganism, intolerance towards different viewpoints and terrorism. Personally I am not a big fan of any religion which I think is a set of guidelines to live a life. All these religious teachings are thousands of years old. Some religions adapted with time, some didn't. Muslim religion is definitely a backward religion in terms of adapting with time.

    September 14, 2012 at 4:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • turban man

      I agree with chacha

      September 14, 2012 at 4:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jayne Miller

      Well said!

      September 16, 2012 at 12:08 am | Report abuse |
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