Photo: Esam Omran Al-Fetori/Reuters
Chris Stevens, the US Ambassador to Libya, has been killed in an attack on the US consulate in Benghazi.
The US suffered attacks on its embassies in both Libya and Egypt yesterday amid protests over a film that was deemed offensive to Islam. The news was first broken by Al-Arabiya.
Reuters is reporting three 3 other deaths as well.
By all accounts, Ambassador spent his career as a devoted US foreign service officer, and was the US envoy to Libya’s liberation movement during the conflict with Qaddafi.
This video from the State Department, introducing Stevens, is heartbreaking.
Al Jazeera’s Evan Hill tweets these two sadly ironic details about the ambassador:
Photo: Evan Hill
Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens is a career member of the Senior Foreign Service. He arrived in Tripoli in May 2012 as U.S. Ambassador to Libya. Ambassador Stevens served twice previously in Libya. He served as Special Representative to the Libyan Transitional National Council from March 2011 to November 2011 during the Libyan revolution and as the Deputy Chief of Mission from 2007 to 2009.
Other overseas assignments include: Deputy Principal officer and Political Section Chief in Jerusalem; political officer in Damascus; consular/political officer in Cairo; and consular/economic officer in Riyadh. In Washington, Ambassador Stevens served as Director of the Office of Multilateral Nuclear and Security Affairs; Pearson Fellow with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee; special assistant to the Under Secretary for Political Affairs; Iran desk officer; and staff assistant in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs.
Prior to joining the Foreign Service in 1991, Ambassador Stevens was an international trade lawyer in Washington, DC. From 1983 to 1985 he taught English as a Peace Corps volunteer in Morocco.
He was born and raised in northern California. He earned his undergraduate degree at the University of California at Berkeley in 1982, a J.D. from the University of California’s Hastings College of Law in 1989, and an M.S. from the National War College in 2010. He speaks Arabic and French.
The political ramifications of this attack are going to be significant, and the news is already injecting itself in the Presidential race.
Mitt Romney has hit the White House for “mixed signals” on the attacks, and in particular tweets and messages from the Egyptian embassy that seemed to criticise the filmmaker that provoked the attack.
A video from RT shows what is apparently the consulate on fire after the rocket attack.
The film that sparked the protests is a mocking, anti-Islam film called The Innocence Of Islam that was bankrolled by an Israel real estate developer, according to WSJ. It has been promoted by infamous Quran-burner Terry Jones.
A trailer to the film scan be found here.
Blake Hounshell at Foreign Policy has some very sober thoughts on what this means here.
Via BNONews, President Obama’s full statement:
I strongly condemn the outrageous attack on our diplomatic facility in Benghazi, which took the lives of four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens. Right now, the American people have the families of those we lost in our thoughts and prayers. They exemplified America’s commitment to freedom, justice, and partnership with nations and people around the globe, and stand in stark contrast to those who callously took their lives.
I have directed my Administration to provide all necessary resources to support the security of our personnel in Libya, and to increase security at our diplomatic posts around the globe. While the United States rejects efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others, we must all unequivocally oppose the kind of senseless violence that took the lives of these public servants.
On a personal note, Chris was a courageous and exemplary representative of the United States. Throughout the Libyan revolution, he selflessly served our country and the Libyan people at our mission in Benghazi. As Ambassador in Tripoli, he has supported Libya’s transition to democracy. His legacy will endure wherever human beings reach for liberty and justice. I am profoundly grateful for his service to my Administration, and deeply saddened by this loss.
The brave Americans we lost represent the extraordinary service and sacrifices that our civilians make every day around the globe. As we stand united with their families, let us now redouble our own efforts to carry their work forward.
Obama’s Rose Garden speech is here.
Photo: Esam Omran Al-Fetori/Reuters
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