J. Christopher Stevens, U.S. Ambassador to Libya, who was killed in an attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, eastern Libya, on Sept. 11 (State Department)
WASHINGTON, DC (WUSA & AP) - The Obama Administration now believes the attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya was planned by extremists and inspired by al Qaida.
Four Americans, including Amb. Christopher Stevens, were killed.
Analysts do not believe this was simply huge mob outraged by a amateur film about the Prophet Muhammad. They believe it was a plot by militants who struck on 9/11.
The assault on the temporary American consulate in Benghazi left the building in flames and killed Amb. Stevens, information management officer Sean Smith, and two more embassy employees. The State Department is still trying to notify next of kin of the two yet to be named victims.
At least one man at the scene said protestors were angry about anti-Islam film funded allegedly by an Israeli American businessman and promoted by a Koran-burning American preacher. "Don't make our people angry because they will kill, they will fight," said the man.
The President pledged to bring the killers to justice. "We reject all efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others. But there is no justification for this type of senseless violence. None."
Stevens had risked his life to save Benghazi as envoy to the Libyan rebellion against Gadhafi. The Secretary of State says he lost his life trying to build a better Libya. "This was an attack by a small and savage group. Not the people of the government of Libya."
Patrick Garvey worked with Stevens when the both were staffers on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He remembers a guy who'd hop a freighter to get into Libya. An analyst who would joke with Condeelza Rice about Gadhafi's crush on her. An Ambassador who would brew up a cappuccino for Senator John McCain. "Just a good California dude, in many respects," said Garvey. "Always had a tan, always had a smile."
Matthew VanDyke, the Baltimore man who fought for the rebels in Benghazi, says the vast majority of Libyans love America for helping win their freedom. "People are really upset," said VanDyke after getting a number of messages from friends in Libya. "They're really ashamed. Same is a big thing in Islamic culture. They feel it deeply."
There's an old saying in America that politics stops at the water's edge. But not in this case. Republican Presidential nominee Mitt Romney blasted a statement out of the American Embassy in Cairo that criticized the anti-Islam video. He said it was "akin to appeasement....The first response must be outrage at the breach of sovereignty of our nation. And apology for American values is never the right course."
That led to a pretty fierce exchange with Democrats. "It's irresponsible," said Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass) about Romney's charges. "I think he should apologize.... I don't think he knows what he's talking about."
President Obama's response? "Governor Romney," he said to 60 Minutes, "has a tendency to shoot first and ask questions later."
The Libyan doctor who treated U.S. ambassador Chris Stevens says the diplomat died of severe asphyxiation and that he tried for 90 minutes to revive him.
Ziad Abu Zeid told The Associated Press on Wednesday that Stevens was brought to the Benghazi Medical Center by Libyans the night before, with no other Americans and that initially no one realized he was the ambassador.
Abu Zeid said Stevens had "severe asphyxia," apparently from smoke inhalation, causing stomach bleeding, but had no other injuries.
Stevens and three American security guards died when the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi came under attack from a mob angry over an anti-Islam film made in the U.S. The crowd fired guns and rocket-propelled grenades and set fire to the consulate.
President Barack Obama released a statement on the attack in Benghazi:
"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."