Benghazi

Bloody hand prints, stolen documents and shocking security failings: Harrowing pictures inside the U.S. consulate as it is revealed ‘officials knew about attack plans 48 HOURS before and did nothing’: Sorry Unedited Includes Graphic Images

  • Dramatic images  of bloody hand prints and crumbling buildings capture horror of Tuesday’s attack  on U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, which fell on 11th anniversary of 9/11  terrorist attacks
  • Revealed today  that sensitive documents have gone missing from compound, including names of  Libyans working with American officials and oil contracts
  • U.S. Department  of State ‘knew of attack plans up to 48 hours ahead of time but did not tell  diplomats to go on lock-down,’ sources say
  • Libyan officials  say four men now in custody in relation to attack
  • Landlord of  building says there were 400 rioters and attack could not be  prevented

By Beth Stebner

PUBLISHED:19:48 EST, 13  September 2012| UPDATED:21:54 EST, 13 September 2012

In the wake of the deadly U.S. consulate  attack in Libya’s second-largest city, disturbing images have emerged of the  embassy, which is now little more than bloodied rubble that has been looted,  torched, and trampled upon.

These images are only part of the story, as  it has been revealed today that a major security breach could have been the  reason that American Ambassador Christopher Stevens, along with three other  Americans, were killed in Tuesday’s attack.

Reports have also circulated that the attack  in Benghazi was an inside job and that the U.S. Department of State knew of the  attack up to 48 hours ahead of time, yet chose to do nothing.

Adding to the chaos, sensitive documents have  apparently gone missing from the embassy following the attack, potentially  putting many in danger.

There will be blood: A Libyan man explains that the bloodstains on the column are from one the American staff members who grabbed the edge of the column while he was evacuated, after an attack that killed four Americans on September 11thThere will be blood: A Libyan man explains that the  bloodstains on the column are from one the American staff members who grabbed  the edge of the column while he was evacuated, after an attack that killed four  Americans on September 11th

 

Grim scene: Bloodstains at the main gate believed to be from one of the American staff members of the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, LibyaGrim scene: Bloodstains at the main gate believed to be  from one of the American staff members of the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi,  Libya

 

Damages: The inside of the burnt US consulate building in Benghazi two days after the deadly attack Damages: The inside of the burnt US consulate building  in Benghazi two days after the deadly attack

 

Inhospitable: A Libyan man walks in the rubble of the damaged building after a crowd of hundreds attacked the consulate Tuesday evening, many of them firing machine-guns and rocket-propelled grenadesInhospitable: A Libyan man walks in the rubble of the  damaged building after a crowd of hundreds attacked the consulate Tuesday  evening, many of them firing machine-guns and rocket-propelled  grenades

The embassy, located in Libya’s  second-largest city, was an easy target as it had not been equipped to withstand  a riot, and as such, did not have bullet-proof glass or reinforced doors,  reports said.

The  Independent,  citing diplomatic sources, has exclusively reported that the U.S. State  Department had known up to 48 hours ahead of the attacks that the compounds in  Benghazi and Cairo were potential targets. However, none of the diplomats in  either city were given warning to go on lock-down, the paper  reported.

Documents containing delicate information  have been lost in the attack, the paper reported. These documents are believed  to contain the names of Libyans who are also working for Americans, as well as  information on oil contracts.

It is also believed that the attacks could be  retribution for a drone strike which killed a top al-Qaeda official in Pakistan,  who was said to be Libyan.

A spokesperson for the U.S. Department of  State told MailOnline: ‘We have nothing further on the situation except what was  spoken about with two state department officials at a press conference earlier  today.’

In ruin: Chandeliers have fallen to the ground, which is covered in plaster and debris inside the burnt US consulate building in Benghazi In ruin: Chandeliers have fallen to the ground, which is  covered in plaster and debris inside the burnt US consulate building in Benghazi

 

Surveying: A Libyan man investigates the inside of the U.S. Consulate; a Libyan official said that the attacks were planned as a two-part assaultSurveying: A Libyan man investigates the inside of the  U.S. Consulate; a Libyan official said that the attacks were planned as a  two-part assault

 

Documentation: A cameraman films one of consulate's scorched offices, now full of rubble and over-turned furnitureDocumentation: A cameraman films one of consulate’s  scorched offices, now full of rubble and over-turned furniture

Both compounds have been abandoned and the  cars outside are blown out and melted from the heat of the fire. Adel Ibrahim,  who owns one of the buildings now covered in bloodshed, took the  Guardian’s Chris Stephen on a grim tour of the  property, showing crumbled walls, singed furniture, and dried blood on the  walls.

TIMELINE OF TERROR: UNFOLDING  OF THE ATTACK

 

A protester reacts as the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi is seen in flames during a protest by an armed group The consulate consists of a main building and  a nearby annex, each of which are protected by local Libyan guard force, a  physical perimeter barrier and a ‘robust’ American security presence inside the  compounds. All times are local Benghazi time, and accounts are from  officials

10:00pm Tuesday – The main consulate building  begins began taking fire from unknown Libyan extremists. There are about 25 to  30 employees in the consulate and the annex at the time of the  attack.

10:15  pm – Attackers gain access to main consulate building and set compound on  fire. In the ensuring chaos, many escape the building, but Stevens, Smith and a  regional security officer remain inside. They become separated due to heavy  smoke and confusion while trying to evacuate. The security officer makes it  outside and he and others from the consulate and annex go back into the building  to try to rescue Stevens and Smith. They find Smith dead and pull him out but  are forced by the flames, smoke and gunfire to withdraw before they can locate  Stevens.

10:45pm – A group of security officers from the annex try to take the consulate  building back from the attackers, but they are repelled. Everyone rescued is  brought to the annex.

Midnight – The annex comes under heavy fire from the attackers. The shooting lasts  more than two hours during which the other two Americans are killed and two  Americans are wounded.

2:30an Wednesday – Libyan and U.S. security  forces retake the annex. Officials believe that Stevens got out or was pulled  out of the main consulate building during the battle for the annex and was taken  to the hospital. The officials do not know if Stevens was alive when he arrived  at the hospital.

6:00am – U.S. officials are told that Stevens  is dead but are not able to confirm it immediately because they have not seen  the body. The body is returned to U.S. personnel at the Benghazi airport at  dawn.

Ibrahim witnessed Monday night’s attack  first-hand, and said that nearly 400 protestors were swarming around the  complex. ‘Better security would not have stopped this,’ he told the Guardian,  saying that they would have needed ‘an army to stop them.’

According to the Guardian, the compound was  looted after the mob gained control of it.

But during the tour, there were scraps of  evidence that U.S. diplomats lived and worked at the compound – including a sign  that reminded them to ‘pick up your trash before leaving.’

In addition, Libya’s deputy interior minister  Wanis el-Sharef told the Associated Press today that heavily armed militants  used a protest of an anti-Islam film as a cover in their deadly attack on the  U.S. Consulate, screaming ‘God is great!’ as they scaled its outer walls and  descended on the main building.

The official told the Associated Press it was  a two-pronged attack, adding that hours after the crowd stormed the consulate  Tuesday night, the militants raided a safe house in the compound just as U.S.  and Libyan security arrived to evacuate the staff, suggesting infiltrators  within the security forces may have tipped off the militants to the location of  the safe house.

The attacks were suspected to have been timed  to coincide with the 11th anniversary of the September 11, 2001, terrorist  strike in the United States, el-Sharef added, with the militants using the film  protest by Libyan civilians to mask their action.

Also killed in the attack were information  management officer Sean Smith, private security guard and former Navy SEAL Glen  Doherty and one other American who has yet to be identified.

El-Sharef said the four were arrested from  their homes on Thursday but would give no further details. He said it was too  early to say if they belonged to a particular group or what  their motive was.

Libya’s new prime minister, Mustafa  Abu-Shakour, said  authorities were looking for more suspects.

One of five private security guards at the  consulate said the surprise  attack began around 9:30 p.m. when several grenades  that were lobbed  over the outer wall exploded in the compound and bullets  rained down.

No one has claimed responsibility for the  attack. Some Libyan officials  have pointed the finger at a hardline Islamist  militia, the Ansar  al-Shariah Brigades, one of multiple Libyan militias  operating in the  city.

A spokesman for the group lavishly  praised  the assault for ‘protecting the faith and fighting for the  victory of God  Almighty.’ But he said the Brigades ‘did not participate  as an organization.  This was a popular uprising.’

Adding to the confusion surrounding  the  attack is that it targeted the United States, a nation that played a key role in  ridding the oil-rich, mostly desert nation of dictator  Muammar Gaddhafi.

Washington also took the lead in launching  the months-long NATO air campaign that crippled the late leader’s  forces.

Stevens was credited by most Libyans  with  organizing a political front made up of opposition groups to unite  the uprising  against Gadhafi’s 41-year rule, mediating tribal and  regional  disputes.

The  Benghazi attack also underlined the  precarious conditions in Libya  nearly a year after Gaddhafi’s fall, with a weak  central government,  militias operating as local governments, a destabilizing  proliferation  of weapons, and militant groups – some inspired by al-Qaida –  that are  active under the government’s radar.

The crowd built at the consulate – a  one-story villa surrounded by a large  garden in an upscale Benghazi  neighbourhood – in several stages,  El-Sharef said.

First, a small group of gunmen  arrived,  then civilians angry over the film.

Later, heavily armed men  with armoured  vehicles, some with rocket-propelled grenades, joined and  the numbers swelled  to more than 200.

Charred: A burnt consulate vehicle remains in front of U.S. consulate, after it was torched in the attackCharred: A burnt consulate vehicle remains in front of  U.S. consulate, after it was torched in the attack

 

 

What's left: A burnt vehicle and broken furniture inside the US consulate compound in Benghazi todayWhat’s left: A burnt vehicle and broken furniture inside  the US consulate compound in Benghazi today

 

Hints of violence: An empty bullet casing is seen on the ground near one of the burnt-out cars of the U.S. ConsulateHints of violence: An empty bullet casing is seen on the  ground near one of the burnt-out cars of the U.S. Consulate

Night of chaos: The U.S. consulate is located south of the main stretches of the city; Stevens was taken to the medical centre, but was said to have died in the initial violenceNight of chaos: The U.S. consulate is located south of  the main stretches of the city; Stevens was taken to the medical centre, but was  said to have died in the initial violence

The gunmen fired into the air outside the  consulate. Libyan security guarding the site pulled out because  they were so  out-manned.

‘We thought there was no way for the  protesters to storm the compound, which had fortified walls,’ he  said.

Libyan security advised the Americans to  evacuate at that point, but the  advice was ignored, he said. There was shooting  in the air from inside  the consulate compound, he said.

At this point, el-Sharef continued, the crowd  stormed the compound. The  consulate was looted and burned, while plainclothes  security men were  sent to evacuate the personnel.

Stevens probably died of asphyxiation following a grenade explosion that started a fire, el-Sharef said,  echoing  what the Libyan doctor to whom Stevens’ body was taken told the  AP on  Wednesday.

His account was corroborated by local  journalist Ibrahim Hadya, who was at the scene.

He told the AP that the consulate was stormed  just as the evacuation was  under way, with staff members smuggled out a side  door that opens to a  street other than the one where the militants and  protesters gathered.

 

Panic: A U.S. State Department official said Mr Stevens and his team 'became separated from each other due to the heavy, dark smoke while they were trying to evacuate the burning building'Panic: A U.S. State Department official said Mr Stevens  and his team ‘became separated from each other due to the heavy, dark smoke  while they were trying to evacuate the burning building’

 

Burnt out: The U.S. consulate in the Libyan city of Benghazi - it has also been revealed today that the Benghazi consulate was not protected by the contingent of Marines that usually safeguard embassies Burnt out: The U.S. consulate in the Libyan city of  Benghazi – it has also been revealed today that the Benghazi consulate was not  protected by the contingent of Marines that usually safeguard embassies

 

Cracked: A picture shows damage inside the burnt US consulate building in Benghazi on Wednesday, with much of the roof plaster fallen and the windows blown outCracked: A picture shows damage inside the burnt US  consulate building in Benghazi on Wednesday, with much of the roof plaster  fallen and the windows blown out

Target: The embassy was vulnerable to attack because it did not have bulletproof glass, reinforced doors or other features common to embassiesTarget: The embassy was vulnerable to attack because it  did not have bulletproof glass, reinforced doors or other features common to  embassies

U.S. envoy Chris Stevens
Glen Doherty

Victims: U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens, left,  apparently died of smoke inhalation; family members of Glen Doherty, right, said  that he died in Tuesday’s attack

U.S. officials have said attackers broke into  the main consulate building around 10:15 p.m. and set the compound on fire.

Loss: Sean Smith, 34, an Air Force veteran who had worked as an information management officer for 10 years in diplomatic posts, was also killedLoss: Sean Smith, 34, an Air Force veteran who had  worked as an information management officer for 10 years in diplomatic posts,  was also killed

Amid the evacuation, Stevens became separated  from others, and staffers and security who tried to find him were forced to flee  by flames, smoke and gunfire.

After an hour, according to U.S. officials,  U.S. and Libyan officials drove the attackers from the consulate.

The embassy was vulnerable to attack because  it did not have bulletproof glass, reinforced doors or other features common to  embassies, according to reports.

The attack has prompted President Barack  Obama to demand increased security at U.S. embassies around the  world.

Mr Obama, speaking a campaign event  in  Golden, Colorado Thursday, also vowed that the perpetrators would be  punished.  ‘I want people around the world to hear me,’ he said. ‘To all  those who would  do us harm: No act of terror will go unpunished.

‘I will not dim the light of the values that  we proudly present to the  rest of the world. No act of violence shakes the  resolve of the United  States of America.’

Gunfire erupted at the Benghazi compound at  10pm on Tuesday night and with the  attack coming in two waves, Libyan and  American authorities did not  regain control again until 2:30am.

A U.S. State Department official said Mr  Stevens and his team ‘became  separated from each other due to the heavy, dark  smoke while they were  trying to evacuate the burning building.

At some time between 10.15 pm and 11.20 pm,  Mr Stevens was taken from the main building by Libyans to the  hospital.

But the diplomat was not seen again by his  colleagues until hours later  when his body was brought to the Benghazi airport  from the hospital.

The attack came amid violence in Libya and  Cairo, which had been sparked by a 14-minute trailer for a film called The  Innocence Of Muslims posted  on YouTube.

Strong words: President Obama, seen walking from Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House Thursday, said at a campaign event today 'No act of terror will go unpunished'Strong words: President Obama, seen walking from Marine  One on the South Lawn of the White House Thursday, said at a campaign event  today ‘No act of terror will go unpunished’

Solemn moment: President Obama, accompanied by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, spoke in the Rose Garden Wednesday about the death of U.S. ambassador to Libya Christopher StevensSolemn moment: President Obama, accompanied by Secretary  of State Hillary Clinton, spoke in the Rose Garden Wednesday about the death of  U.S. ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens

The description of events at the  consulate,  while preliminary, appeared to raise questions about security preparations and  procedures.

A U.S. official said there were no U.S.  military personnel at the mission in Benghazi at the time of the attack.

Questioned about the consulate’s security,  the officials said the compound was  guarded by both Libyan security and a  ‘robust’ force of U.S. security  officers, and that a regular security review  before the anniversary of  the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks had recently been  completed.

‘And at that point there was no information  and there were no threat streams to indicate that we were insufficiently  postured,’ said another U.S.  official.

In response to  the attacks, the U.S. has  launched a major military manhunt to find the  terrorists responsible,  announcing they are sending warships to the  coast of Libya in an apparent  terrorist hunt, and American drone  aircraft are also expected to join the  search for potential targets.

The White House has said it is  keeping an  open mind as to the reason for Tuesday’s strike in Libya, but it is  investigating whether the attack in Benghazi was planned in  advance by  terrorists.

Sinking: An armchair and furniture float in the swimming pool of the US consulate in Benghazi on ThursdaySinking: An armchair and furniture float in the swimming  pool of the US consulate in Benghazi on Thursday

 

Soggy: The furniture has been left where it was thrown, along with water bottles and shards of glassSoggy: The furniture has been left where it was thrown,  along with water bottles and shards of glass

 

Sunk: An armchair and parasol float in the swimming pool, while heavier items like deck chairs and a washing machine have gone to the bottomSunk: An armchair and parasol float in the swimming  pool, while heavier items like deck chairs and a washing machine have gone to  the bottom

The  assault had initially been thought to  have been a spontaneous reaction  to protests over an anti-Islamic film, but  there is now speculation it  was a long-planned ambush on the anniversary of the  9/11 terrorist  attack, or a revenge attack for death of an al Qaeda official in  June in Yemen.

State  Department officials said the two  incidents at the diplomatic missions  were not related and said they believe the  Benghazi violence was a  ‘clearly planned attack.’

A U.S. counter-terrorism official said the  Benghazi violence was ‘too co-ordinated or professional’ to be  unplanned.

The attack raises questions about the future  U.S. diplomatic presence in  Libya, relations between Washington and Tripoli,  and the unstable  security situation after Gaddafi’s overthrow.

It has also raised issues about why the  building, which had been attacked before, was so poorly protected.

Ravaged: An exterior view of the U.S. consulate; according to reports, the embassy was looted, and now, sensitive documents have gone missingRavaged: An exterior view of the U.S. consulate;  according to reports, the embassy was looted, and now, sensitive documents have  gone missing

 

Chaos: An interior view of the damage at the embassy shows cabinets torn off their tracking, burned walls, and general pandemonium Chaos: An interior view of the damage at the embassy  shows cabinets torn off their tracking, burned walls, and general pandemonium

 

Old Glory: A US flag is seen amid the rubble at the US consulate amid other debrisOld Glory: A US flag is seen amid the rubble at the US  consulate amid other debris

It has been suggested that the attack was in  retaliation for the death of an al Qaeda official, which was confirmed this week  and that should have meant security would have been high at the U.S embassy in  the troubled region.

Following the attack,Dr Ziad Abu Zeid, said  Mr Stevens was brought to the Benghazi Medical Center by Libyans on Tuesday  night with no other Americans, and that initially no one realized he was the  ambassador. The doctor tried for 90 minutes to revive him.

Mr Stevens was a career diplomat who spoke  Arabic and French and had already served two tours in Libya, including running  the office in Benghazi during the revolt against Muammar Gaddafi.

Five other U.S. ambassadors have been killed  in the line of duty, the last being Adolph Dubs in Afghanistan in  1979.

U.S. officials said one destroyer, the USS  Laboon, moved to a position off the coast of Libya, and the USS McFaul is en  route and should be stationed off the coast within days.

The officials say the ships, which carry  Tomahawk missiles, do not have a specific mission, but they give commanders  flexibility to respond to any mission ordered by the president.

Attacked: An armed man holds his rifle as he stands next to buildings set on fire at the US consulate, in Benghazi, Libya, September 11Attacked: An armed man holds his rifle as he stands next  to buildings set on fire at the US consulate, in Benghazi, Libya, September  11

 

Set ablaze: Explosions erupted throughout the embassy on Tuesday night, and an official vehicle can already be seen scorched and destroyedSet ablaze: Explosions erupted throughout the embassy on  Tuesday night, and an official vehicle can already be seen scorched and  destroyed

The destroyers have crews totaling about 300  each. There have been four destroyers in the Mediterranean for some time. These  moves will increase that to five.

President Obama could also command unmanned  surveillance drones to fly over Benghazi in search of jihadi encampments  possibly tied to the deadly attack, a U.S. official said who spoke on the  condition of anonymity.

The drones, which would pass gathered  information to Libyans, are expected to be approved by the Pentagon and White  House shortly. With Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at his side on  Wednesday, Mr Obama said: ‘Justice will be done.’

Speaking Wednesday, Mohamed al-Megaryef, president of Libya's highest political authority the General National Congress condemned the attack Speaking Wednesday, Mohamed al-Megaryef, president of  Libya’s highest political authority the General National Congress condemned the  attack

President Obama condemned the attack and paid  tribute to the late Ambassador Stevens as he ordered increased security at  diplomatic posts around the world.

‘It’s especially tragic that Chris Stevens  died in Benghazi, as it’s a city that he helped to save,’ Mr Obama said outside  the White House.

With ‘characteristic skill, courage and  resolve, he built partnerships with Libyans… and he worked tirelessly to  support this young democracy. ‘He was a role model to those who worked with  him and to the young diplomats who strive to follow in his footsteps.

‘These four Americans stood up for freedom  and human dignity. We grieve with their families but let us carry on their  memory… I have no doubt that their legacy will live on.’

He added: ‘The United States condemns in the  strongest possible terms this outrageous and shocking attack. There is no  justification to this type of senseless violence. None.’

In a statement, Mrs Clinton added: ‘I had the  privilege of swearing in Chris for his post in Libya only a few months ago. He  risked his own life to lend the Libyan people a helping hand to build the  foundation for a new, free nation.’

There is now speculation over the identity of  the film’s producer who works under the pseudonym of Sam Bacile. He had told  reporters that he was an Israeli Jew who financed the project with $5million  from 100 Jewish donors.

None of those statements have proven to be  true, and Israeli officials later confirmed that there is no citizen of their  country with that name. Speaking by phone from an undisclosed location on  Tuesday, ‘Bacile’ remained defiant, saying he intended his film to be a  provocative political statement condemning the religion.

‘This is a political movie,’ said Bacile. He  continued: ‘The U.S. lost a lot of money and a lot of people in wars in Iraq and  Afghanistan, but we’re fighting with ideas.’

‘Islam is a cancer, period,’ he said  repeatedly. YouTube has since blocked the video in Egypt and Libya.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2202979/Benghazi-attack-U-S-consulate-pictured-Libyan-attack-revealed-officials-knew-attack-plans-48-HOURS-before.html#ixzz26PWLEtba