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. Sandra

    WAKE UP I can't believe anyone with half a brain doesn't get it. My stupid friend just told me Egypt and Libya are our allies. Are you kidding me. They will tell us anything to get our money. Maybe we should give all the leaders a lie dector test??? What do you think? I bet they would fail. The media can't tell the truth either. Politicians shold be required to take a drug, and lie dector test. Bet they would all fail too. God Bless America we have the right to disagree with each other

    September 12, 2012 at 11:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Go Ducks

      They are as much our allies as Pakistan is.

      September 13, 2012 at 12:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • janey33

      We need to STOP giving handouts to our enemies!!! Our money could be put to much better use than giving it to people who hate us.

      September 13, 2012 at 1:43 pm | Report abuse |
  2. dd

    Yup, another Obama adviser ignored and dead. People don't realize that the only way Obama listens is if you flash a handful of money in front of his face. He is the Chicago Way! Pay to play! The most politically corrupt city in the nation. The news media ignores his background. They love a screw up! A terrible economy and attacks on Americans around the world sells the news. The US new media loves Obama's policies of "hate America" and "kill 'em". Obama sells the news with his incompetence. Journalists love the news item and won't tell the people what the peanut head did!

    September 12, 2012 at 11:32 pm | Report abuse |
  3. wardawg

    RIP to all those that passed in the service of our country today, nothing to do with politics just paying respects.

    September 13, 2012 at 12:19 am | Report abuse |
  4. mmi16

    Give Muslims enough fire power and they will eliminate themselves – they just can't help killing their own.

    By the same token, if the Israili's didn't have the Arabs to focus on, their intersect rivalrys would cause them to eliminate themselves.

    September 13, 2012 at 12:26 am | Report abuse |
  5. Jonesy

    Someone explain to me why we can see pictures of the dead/or injured /stevens, but we have NEVER been allowed to see Bin laudin pictures after his death. It's ok to treat our officials with disrespect and drag them through crowd, but we are honoring Bin Laudin's religious preferences and burried him at sea??? I don't get it.l Don't our people deserve the same respect and others??????

    September 13, 2012 at 12:40 am | Report abuse |
    • dee

      This one has a point.

      September 13, 2012 at 1:54 am | Report abuse |
    • st. john

      I think bin laden was dumped in the ocean, not buried at sea. The idea was to avoid creating a shrine for true believers. You want to see a dean bin laden?

      September 13, 2012 at 6:48 am | Report abuse |
    • Jean Sartre

      The only point you have is the one at the top of your head.

      Bin Laden was buried at sea so no one could build a memorial to him – you want to swim out to the middle of the sea to worship this clown?

      The bin Laden death picture – because he had half his head blown off – was shown to many members of congress who decided it was simply too sick to show it to the general population; go talk with your congressman/woman if you really want to see it.

      Finally, posting bin Laden's half-skull, all over the Internet and the front page of every newspaper in the world, just might, maybe, perhaps inflame Muslim tensions even further and lead to many more deaths...

      September 13, 2012 at 9:19 am | Report abuse |
  6. clownshoes

    I bet most of you consider MSNBC to be honest and legitimate news

    September 13, 2012 at 12:44 am | Report abuse |
  7. mike

    SO those are the guys who we gave all those missles to. Gaddafi does not seem so bad now does he?

    September 13, 2012 at 1:43 am | Report abuse |
    • thejuniordisciple

      No, I still don't get it. Gaddafi was a stabilizing force in that part of the region; he kept the warring factions at bay; voluntarily withdrew from nucleur proliferation; and what did he get in return? If he were alive today, this ambassador would still have been breathing and enjoying his career.

      September 13, 2012 at 4:18 am | Report abuse |
  8. mike

    Your tax dollars are what paid for those missiles that killed our ambassador

    September 13, 2012 at 1:47 am | Report abuse |
  9. John

    America decides Gadaffi has to go.
    America arms the opposition.
    The opposition kill Americans with the weapons they got from America.
    American stupidity at work!

    September 13, 2012 at 2:03 am | Report abuse |
    • John


      September 13, 2012 at 2:59 am | Report abuse |
    • nab

      It's the open veins of Africa. Remove a strong leader who has kept peace by effective strong arm tactics and has been demanding from the oil producing arab countries to sell oil in gold instead of petro-dollar. He did not cause more voilence upon his people than the current Syrian regime. Instead install an ineffective central government like in Iraq, keep them pre-occupied with containing confusion and violence and plunder the country of it's minerals.

      September 13, 2012 at 3:46 am | Report abuse |
    • st. john

      Kind of like getting rid of saddam hussien.

      September 13, 2012 at 6:49 am | Report abuse |
  10. mike

    How long before obama starts a war in libya to get al qaeda out a year after we put them in?

    September 13, 2012 at 2:09 am | Report abuse |
    • Jean Sartre

      Think WILLARD here... Obama is a small, Special Ops kind of person, like SEAL Team 6.

      WILLARD, on the other hand, would be having our entire Navy, Army, Marines, Air Force, Coast Guard, Special Ops, Rafalca and Ann all headed to Libya TODAY!

      On top of that he would have every news channel broadcasting his speech: “We’re going to get those Mother…”

      September 13, 2012 at 9:30 am | Report abuse |
  11. Heather Duncan

    I'm trying to get the horrible image of this man's body being paraded through the streets by the mob. He looks like a really sincere good person, I'm very saddened by his death and hope his family dosen't see the photos that were posted on CNN. RIP Chris Stephens.

    September 13, 2012 at 3:06 am | Report abuse |
  12. nab

    It's the open veins of (South America) Africa. Remove a strong leader who has kept peace by effective strong arm tactics and has been demanding from the oil producing arab countries to sell oil in gold instead of petro-dollar. He did not cause more voilence upon his people than the current Syrian regime. Instead install an ineffective central government like in Iraq, keep them pre-occupied with containing confusion and violence and plunder the country of it's minerals.

    September 13, 2012 at 3:49 am | Report abuse |
  13. Theresa Small Smith

    Islam is not responsible 4 the violence blame is everywhere xcpt whr it should be. the terrorist want control and fear murder, seperation of ppl, family, allies r their methods. United we stand.

    September 13, 2012 at 4:38 am | Report abuse |
    • Go Ducks

      I agree with you on the politics of division which are working very well, the glaring problem with your comment is that while extremists defile your religion daily, the rest of the Muslim people neither say nor do anything about it. Why don't all of your Imams make a statement that all of this is against Islam?

      September 13, 2012 at 12:18 pm | Report abuse |
  14. 0rangeW3dge

    If Gadafi was such a good ruler why was there a revolution from his own countrymen?

    I think, I know, there's just a whole lot of people that want to twist it all around to fit their own way...
    I don't have a point, I just thought I'd remind the reader to beware of the vulturecapitalist circling overhead

    September 13, 2012 at 4:46 am | Report abuse |
    • Go Ducks

      None of the dictators deposed during the Arab Spring were good people or leaders. They were just stabilizing forces in the middle-east. Now that they are gone prepare for a whole lot of war to happen.

      September 13, 2012 at 12:20 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Martina

    This is so unfortunate. Poor guy.

    September 13, 2012 at 5:29 am | Report abuse |
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