POL103-Benghazi-3-The attack

In the previous episode, we talked about the role that Mr. Stevens played after the downfall of Gaddafi. He got along with the local militias well and tried to make sure they’re in serenity and peace. Because the new government did not have the capability to provide protection for the U.S. diplomats, the plan of the U.S. Department of State was to deploy a modest American security force for protecting the American diplomats and then gradually rely on the trained Libyan personnel. In June 2012, the embassy in Benghazi was attacked: the enclosure was bombed. However, although the Benghazi Embassy consistently requested adding more security force, the State Department never responded to that. During August, the total number of State Department security agents assigned to the Embassy in Tripoli dropped from thirty-four to six and maintained the number of State Department security personnel members in Benghazi Embassy compound around the minimum recommended level. The information that local milia leaders conveyed to the U.S. was also confusing. On one hand, many leaders showed extreme passion to cooperate with the U.S.; on the other hand, some leaders tried to warn the Americans about their security threat. In addition, the weapon of American security team was outgunned — M4 rifles and sidearms, but rocket-propelled grenades, machine guns, mortars, and AK-47s were scattering around Libya.

On September 11, 2012, the compound had a total of eight armed guards: five Americans and three Libyans who were affiliated with the February 17 militia. At approximately 9:42 p.m, the attackers stormed through the main gate and set the majority of barracks and cars on fire. Mr. Stevens, Mr. Smith and a security officer in the main villa locked themselves in a safe room. Attackers set the main villa’s living room on fire. As the main villa is engulfed in smoke, the security officer tries to guide Mr. Stevens and Mr. Smith outside through a window. The officer leaves, but the two men do not follow. The officer re-enters the building multiple times but is unable to find the two men.

At 10:05 p.m., a C.I.A. team of six leaves the Annex in two vehicles, trying and failing to get help from militia members it finds along the way. The Annex team rescues the officer in the monitoring office and joins the search for the two missing Americans. They find Mr. Smith in the main villa, dead from smoke inhalation, but not the ambassador. After two hours of searching, they retreated back to the annex.

At approximately 1 a.m., some of the compound’s invaders found Mr.Steven in the main villa and took him to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead. The State Department’s operations center set in motion a contingency plan drafted for emergencies. A civilian airliner contracted by the department and on standby at Tripoli airport flew to Benghazi, with the eight additional security officers. Just as they were assembling to be taken to the airport, the second attack was erupted, which led to the death of two mission’s guards — Tyrone S. Woods and Glen A. Doherty, former members of the Navy SEALs.
At approximately 5 a.m., the February 17 militia convoy arrived for help. The evacuation to the airport soon begin, they left behind 11 security officers and three bodies, because but the plane could not carry everyone. At 8:25 a.m., Mr. Stevens’s body arrives at the Benghazi airport in an ambulance, and the State Department’s plane returned to carry the last Americans out of Benghazi, landed at 11:30 a.m in Tripoli.

Appendix for Episode 3

“Militias-are-power-on-the-ground.” from the investigation report of the House Select Committee on Benghazi
from the investigation report of the House Select Committee on Benghazi
from the investigation report of the House Select Committee on Benghazi
from the investigation report of the House Select Committee on Benghazi
from the investigation report of the House Select Committee on Benghazi
An attacker
The attackers
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