The 2012 Benghazi attack took place on the evening of September 11, 2012, when Islamic militants attacked the American diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, killing U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and U.S. Foreign Service Information Management Officer Sean Smith. Stevens was the first U.S. Ambassador killed in the line of duty since 1979. The attack has also been referred to as the Battle of Benghazi.
Several hours later, a second assault targeted a different compound about one mile away, killing CIA contractors Tyrone S. Woods and Glen Doherty. Ten others were also injured in the attacks.
Many Libyans condemned the attacks and praised the late ambassador. They staged public demonstrations condemning the militias (formed during the 2011 civil war to oppose leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi) that were suspected of the attacks.
The United States immediately increased security worldwide at diplomatic and military facilities and began investigating the Benghazi attack. In the aftermath of the attack, State Department officials were criticized for denying requests for additional security at the consulate prior to the attack. In her role as Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton subsequently took responsibility for the security lapses.
On August 6, 2013, it was reported that the U.S. had filed criminal charges against several individuals, including militia leader Ahmed Abu Khattala, for alleged involvement in the attacks. Khattala has been described by Libyan and U.S. officials as the Benghazi leader of Ansar al-Sharia, which was listed in January 2014 by the U.S. Department of State as a terror organization. On the weekend of June 14, 2014, U.S. Army special operations forces, in coordination with the FBI, captured Khattala in Libya.
Initially, top U.S. officials and the media reported that the Benghazi attack was a spontaneous protest triggered by an anti-Muslim video, Innocence of Muslims. Subsequent investigations determined that there was no such protest and that the attacks were premeditated. Captured suspect Ahmed Abu Khattala stated that the assault was indeed in retaliation for the video Innocence of Muslims.
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