New details are coming to light about the events underlying Tuesday’s rampage on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, resulting in the death of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three others. BBC reports that protests against an anti-Islam Internet movie are ongoing at U.S. diplomatic missions throughout the Middle East and North Africa, including Sanaa, Yemen where demonstrators forced their way onto Embassy grounds and burned a flag before being driven back.
* According to the New York Post, U.S. intelligence officials believe the gun battle at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi was planned by an al Qaeda affiliate and timed to coincide with the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks. The report calls the assault a revenge killing meant to avenge the death of a top al Qaeda leader in a drone strike.
* The strike was carried out by 50 people described as “hard-core militants,” armed with AK-47s and grenades, the newspaper said.
* CNN noted several U.S. diplomatic missions were the scene of protests against an online video. The video portrayed the prophet Mohammed in an unfavorable light, including depicting himas a child molester. But, CNN said the militants did not stage the Benghazi assault because of the film, instead using the protests as a diversion to facilitate their invasion of the consulate.
* The United States announced plans to avenge the attacks, according to CNN, and has moved two warships into the area.
* Fifty U.S. Marines stationed in Spain headed to the U.S. embassy in Tripoli to provide protection in the aftermath of the attack, the Los Angeles Times noted. The embassy is some 400 miles from the consulate, on the opposite side of the Gulf of Sirte.
* NBC News reports the Libyan government has promised to assist the United States in identifying the attackers and bringing them to justice. Interim leader Mohammed Magarief apologized to the U.S. and the world yesterday for the attack, Reuters said.
* “Innocence of the Muslims” was the impetus for an assault on the U.S. Embassy in Cairo Tuesday, ABC News said. Many protesters who stormed the Embassy claimed to be acting in response to the film but had not actually seen it, according to that report.
* Cindy Lee Garcia, an actor in the film, says she and other actors were duped by the filmmaker, who uses the pseudonym Sam Bacile, Gawker reported. The working title of the script was “Desert Warriors,” she explained, and the character identified as Muhammad in the final production was called “Master George.” The actors had no knowledge the film would address Muslims or Muhammad. Garcia said her final line was dubbed to include a reference to Muhammad.
* ABC News said “Sam Bacile” may have gone into hiding. ABC cast doubt on yesterday’s reports that Bacile is an Israeli Jew, saying he is more likely an Arab Christian, based in part on information from an anti-Islamic Christian group that claims to have done production work on the video. Bacile is also believed to be a U.S. citizen, not an Israeli. His age has been reported as 52, 56 and 75.