|US Consulate - Benghazi in Flames (c) Hadeel al Shalchi|
Click here for related story [The Independent]
It appears that Pastor Jones' video was more of a distractor than a cause of the attacks on US Embassies in Libya, Egypt, Yemen, and Indonesia. The attack was a sophisticated, well-planned and coordinated assault -- hardly a spontaneous mob event.
|Campaign photo op as bodies are returned|
The White House denies that there was advance warning - perhaps because Mr Obama was not there, but, rather out campaigning for reelection.
The attacks were reportedly in retaliation for the US drone strike in Pakistan which killed Al Qa'ida Mohammed Hassan Qaed -- a Libyan.
The mob gave excellent cover to the ringleaders who proceeded to launch the attack after retrieving weapons hidden near the Consulate.
The security breaches exposed the Ambassador's movements, and it appears the attackers planned the the complex operation to coincide with his return, using heavy weapons -- including RPGs [rocket propelled grenades], machine guns, and mortars.
Initial accounts put the Ambassador in a car with two bodyguards and a public affairs officer -- all being killed except the Ambassador.
The Public Affairs officer was reportedly killed evacuating the Consular staff to the Safe House.
The accurate details will eventually surface.
The "take" from the attack included classified files, the identity of Libyans working for the US -- putting them at risk, oil contracts, and the location of the Embassy Safe House. However, the Safe House appears to have already been compromised since it came under heavy and extremely accurate attack after about 40 US Embassy employees gathered there.
The attack in Libya may have been only the first in a series of planned attacks which followed in Cairo and Sanaa. There were concerns that US personnel [embassy and military] would be targeted in Iraq, Bangladesh, Malaysia, and Indonesia.
In addition, British and German embassies have been targeted, and both were stormed in Sudan. Islamic anti-American protests have spread throughout the world.
|Islamic protests have now spread across the globe [Reuters]|
This tragedy needs a careful after-action review:
1) Ignoring "credible information" of a possible/probable attack and not raising the alert status put both Embassy and Consular personnel at high, and unnecessary risk -- particularly given the turmoil in Benghazi as rival factions battled for dominance of the region which sits on 80 per cent of Libya's oil reserves.
2) The NEO [Non-Combatant Evacuation Operation] plan, developed as part of the embassy security plan, worked relatively well, given the circumstances, since the staff was moved safely and efficiently to the Safe House and survived a massive. professional, and well coordinated assault.
3) The failure points were
a. Poor security as the attack force
1) Was fully aware of the Ambassador's itinerary
2) The location of the Safe House was known to the attackers
-- whose mortars were already zeroed in.
3) The Consulate and Safe House had obviously been under surveillance for some time,
without detection, before the attack
b. Inadequate communications between the Consulate and the Embassy in Tripoli.
c. Incomplete status reports reflecting the number of diplomats located at the Consulate
d. Insufficient number of security force/Marine Guards to protect the Consulate
-- given the 48 hour warning.