NY Post – Terror In The Night
A shot-by-shot account of the attack in Benghazi still leaves questions over a botched response
By KYLE SMITH
Terrorists had entered the Benghazi diplomatic compound by simply ordering a $32-a-night unarmed Libyan “guard” to open the front gates. Only mildly less challenging was the next phase: setting fire to the ambassador’s villa to smoke out or kill their prey, Ambassador Christopher Stevens. After lighting the place up, using a depot of diesel fuel whose exact whereabouts they seem to have known in advance, the “tangos” (jargon for terrorists) jovially congregated outside the building, firing their AK-47s in the air and waiting. As they congratulated each other on the murders they were about to carry out, Diplomatic Security Service agents called Washington to tell them what was happening.
A compelling, mostly convincing account of the Sept. 11, 2012, Benghazi attacks has arrived in “Under Fire,” by former State Department counterterrorism deputy chief Fred Burton and author and terrorism expert Samuel M. Katz.
In the months before Sept. 11, Benghazi had become a serpents’ nest. Men in dark glasses and briefcases full of cash and 9 mm semiautomatics walked the city negotiating assassinations. The situation had become too hairy even for Iran, a notable sponsor of terrorism that pulled out of town after seven Iranian Red Crescent aid workers were kidnapped.
Yet the US Special Mission Compound was poorly defended, minus the anti-terror safeguards that had become standard equipment for US posts across the Arab world after the Beirut attack that killed 241 American servicemen in 1983. The better-defended CIA annex a mile away in Benghazi, the location of the final act of the onslaught that began at the consulate, was twice attacked by bombers that summer. A state of “maximum alert” was declared for the city on Aug. 29.
On Sept. 8, an amateurish anti-Islam video called “Innocence of Muslims,” which had been on YouTube since July, began getting picked up by Arab television. Many Muslim nations censored the video, but a religious-themed show in Egypt gave it a burst of publicity by showing clips on the air. Protesters gathered outside the US embassy in Cairo the day of Sept. 11 as cops looked the other way.
Some protesters managed to scale the walls and enter the compound. They sprayed graffiti, tore down the US flag at the entrance and replaced it with the black flag of jihad. A hastily assembled defense force in riot gear quashed the demonstration, which was actually orchestrated by opportunist fanatics demanding the release of 9/11 mastermind Omar Abdel-Rahman from US custody.