September 11, 2012: American ambassador killed in Benghazi attack

On September 11, 2012 Islamist terrorists launched an organised attack on the US diplomatic mission in Benghazi killing the US Ambassador and three other Americans

BENGHAZI, LIBYA – The 9/11 attacks were not the only Islamist ones to target Americans.

9/11 is clearly an iconic event. The use of airliners as missiles to fly into buildings and kill thousands was such a catastrophic attack that was not really in the imagination of anyone. This was truly an onslaught that no one had really considered, the protestations of some notwithstanding.

What is interesting, though, is that the Al Qaeda (AQ) plot was not the only one on this particular day on the calendar. One of the advantages of researching terrorism over history is that you become aware of other attacks that happen to share the same 24-hour period, often decades apart.

What do you mean September 11 is not all about ME? (Photo: By Hamid Mir, CC BY-SA 3.0

The attack which took place on this day nine years AFTER 9/11 was in some ways equally devastating to the US, even if the casualty count was much, much smaller (by several orders of magnitude).

On this day in 2012

Heavily armed Islamist terrorists launched an organised attack on the US diplomatic mission in Libyan city of Benghazi setting fire to buildings and later launching mortar rounds at a nearby CIA compound. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were killed in the violence, making it the first time since 1979 that a U.S. ambassador was killed in the line of duty. The perpetrators were probably linked to AQ.

I condemn in the strongest terms the attack on our mission in Benghazi today. . . . The United States deplores any intentional effort to denigrate the religious beliefs of others. Our commitment to religious tolerance goes back to the very beginning of our nation. But let me be clear: There is never any justification for violent acts of this kind.

Secretary of State Hilary Clinton

Like 9/11, this attack led to a Congressional hearing on what happened and why it was not prevented. Alas, this event joined 9/11 in the annals of US infamy.

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By Phil Gurski

Phil Gurski is the President and CEO of Borealis Threat and Risk Consulting Ltd. Phil is a 32-year veteran of CSE and CSIS and the author of six books on terrorism.

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