Libyan President Mohamed al-Magarief told Al Jazeera early today he believes al-Qaeda was behind the deadly attack on the United States embassy — and the Sept. 11 attack was well planned in advance, not the work of an out-of-control mob.
“If you take into account the weapons used like RPGs and other heavy weapons, it proves that it was pre-planned,” he said. “It’s a dirty act of revenge that has nothing to do with religion.”
The comments were first time al-Magarief’s government has blamed terrorism acts on religious extremists. Libya’s deputy interior minister had blamed the attack on loyalists to assassinated dictator Muammar Gaddafi, who still keep a presence inside Libya. Even though they’re still there, though, al-Magarief said, there was no way they were behind the attacks.
The Libyan president said the few al-Qaeda members in Libya had managed to infiltrate security forces.
U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens, information management officer Sean Smith, and private security guards Glen Doherty and Tyrone S. Woods were killed in the attacks.
Here’s what you should know:
1. There Are Still a Ton of Weapons Floating Around
There were a lot of weapons floating around back in 2011, when forces killed Gaddafi — and those weapons are still there a year later, a dangerous fact in a country weakened by tribal conflicts.
Al-Margarief said he is taking action to disarm the many militias in the country, but it’s been difficult. Meanwhile, about 100 people protested in Benghazi Friday night, calling for the country’s militias to be disbanded.
The president told Al Jazeera that he would be taking action to disarm the militias.”Definitely we have to depend on the militias themselves [to co-operate with being disarmed], and of course, before that, the army,” he said.
2. Libyans Don’t Trust Their President
People at a small protest in the nation’s capital Friday were demanding the government assert its authority, and insisted they were against the terrorists that attacked the U.S. consulate.
However, as one person said, they have little faith in al-Margarief’s ability to disarm the militias, and said the leader “makes lots of promises, but does nothing”.
3. U.S. Is Sending Drones In Along With Military
The airspace remained closed over Benghazi for several hours, when opposition fighters tried shooting down U.S. drones flying over.
4. Libyan Authorities Investigating Attack Like a Crime
“I know that this is being investigated, and we’re working with the Libyan government to investigate the incident. I would not want to speculate on that at this time,” said White House Press Secretary Jay Carney.
A military spokesman said Libyan authorities began investigating the scene late Friday afternoon, as Libyan soldiers stood guard outside the consulate. On Thursday, though, Libyan authorities arrested four people allegedly connected to the killings, reported Reuters.
5. Innocence of Muslims Was Just a Front
I understand all the Muslims are furious at the low budget film that was made. But seriously acting like hooligans isn’t the way
— Aurora(@RorrySays) September 15, 2012
Another senior Libyan official said Thursday the heavily armed militants used the anti-Islamic film to cover that they may have had inside help. The attack wasn’t a simple rampage, said Eastern Libya’s deputy interior minister, Wanis el-Sheref. Instead, a mob first stormed the consulate Tuesday and and then hours later a compound safe house, as U.S. and Libyan security came to escort the personnel to safety.
6. Attacks Timed to Strike on 9-11
Libyan officials said the attacks were especially timed to fall on the 11th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, a date they’d be most noticed.
7. No One Has Stepped Forward
Usually when there is a terrorist attack, some group always comes out to claim the bragging rights. That hasn’t happened this time. Some Libyans are saying they were caused by a hardline Islamic militia group — others aren’t so sure.
8. Stevens Helped Gaddafi Fall
Most Libyans say Stevens organized a political front to unite against Gaddafi and mediated tribal disputes. As such, he would almost certainly be targeted by remaining pro-Gaddafi forces.
9. The FBI is Stepping In
The FBI was expected is expected to arrive today to investigate the attack, U.S. officials say. They are first interviewing people outside the country.
10. Here Come the Marines
Some 50 U.S. Marines are headed to Libya to reinforce security at U.S. diplomatic facilities. They will be initially at the American embassy in Tripoli, not Benghazi.