Libya, US divided over deadly Benghazi attack

Libya, US divided over deadly Benghazi attack

Libya, US divided over deadly Benghazi attack

Indonesian protesters hurl rocks during a protest against a film insulting to Muslims outside the US embassy.

As the demonstrations across the Muslim world over a film insulting Islam became violent in several countries yesterday, the United States and Libya have diverging interpretations of the details of the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. embassy in Benghazi, in which four Americans were killed.

The deadly assault on a U.S. consulate in Libya was a spontaneous reaction to an anti-Muslim video, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. said, even as Libya’s president insisted the attackers spent months preparing and carefully choosing their date -- the anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Two killed in Pakistan

Protesters in Afghanistan and Indonesia burned U.S. flags and chanted anti-American slogans yesterday, while two protesters were killed in clashes with police in Pakistan. Indonesian police fired teargas and water cannon to disperse hundreds of demonstrators in Jakarta.

Around 100 U.S. citizens were evacuated from Tunisia on Sept. 16. Meanwhile, the U.S. said yesterday it would close its embassy in Bangkok in response to a planned protest by “several hundred people.” Germany is mullingwhether to ban the public screening of the film, titled “Innocence of Muslims” because it could endanger public security, Chancellor Angela Merkel said yesterday.

Unnerved by the raid on Sept. 11 that claimed the life of the U.S. ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens, and three other Americans, the Obama administration last week launched an investigation into whether terrorist groups had exploited outrage over an anti-Muslim video to trigger an attack long in the works. But Ambassador Susan Rice said on Sept. 16 that evidence gathered so far shows no indication of a premeditated or coordinated strike. She said the attack in Benghazi, powered by mortars and rocket-propelled grenades, appeared to be a copycat of demonstrations that had erupted hours earlier outside the U.S. Embassy in Cairo.

Rice’s depiction of the chain of events contrasted with one offered by Libya’s Interim President Mohammed el-Megarif, who said on Sept. 16 there was no doubt the perpetrators had predetermined the date of the attack.

“It was planned, definitely. It was planned by foreigners, by people who entered the country a few months ago,” el-Megarif said. “And they were planning this criminal act since their arrival.” Meanwhile, Libya’s interior minister has sacked Benghazi security chiefs after the attack U.S. consulate last week.

Hezbollah urges protests

Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah on Sept. 16 called for a week of angry protests across Lebanon. Nasrallah blamed U.S. intelligence for orchestrating the film. Nasrallah called for protests to be held in southern Beirut yesterday, in the eastern part of the country on Sept. 21, in southern Lebanon on Sept. 22, and in the eastern Bekaa Valley region on Sept. 23.