Embassy attacks...a timeline
The wave of protest and violence at US embassies and consulates around the Middle East, continued today.
And events are moving so fast, it might help to look back at how all this developed.
And two places you least expected anti-US anger were Libya and Egypt.
With tacit US support for the ouster of the Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak, and active US military support for the overthrow of Moamar Khadaffi, one might expect relatively warm feelings toward America.
But in the Middle East, nothing is as it seems.
The laughably amateurish film, the “Innocence of Muslims” was made in the summer of 2011 and was promoted on You Tube by a network of anti-Muslim religious groups.
When posted in June, it went unnoticed. But an Arabic translation just days ago, was… and began snowballing.
The anniversary of 9/11 was almost too convenient and at 6am Tuesday morning, crowds began gathering in Cairo outside the US Embassy after clerics urged protests over the film.
Seeing the gathering crowd, the embassy communications officer issues a statement to try to calm the protest…
”The Embassy of the United States in Cairo condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims – as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions.”
1:05 pm - The State Department says crowds have climbed the walls and replaced the American flag with a Muslim banner.
3:30 pm - Protesters begin marching on the US Consulate in Benghazi, Libya. Ambassador Chris Stevens is there, instead of the Consulate in Tripoli.
4pm - The consulate is attacked with small arms fire and some rocket propelled grenades.
They are identified as “unidentified Libyan extremists.”
Small arms and even RPG’s and mortars are ubiquitous in Libya in the wake of the revolution.
4:14pm - Attackers gain access to the main building and it begins to burn. Stevens, foreign service officer Sean Smith and a regional security officer are inside. The security official escapes and returns with others to search for Stevens and Smith. They find only Smith’s body.
4:45 pm - Security personnel try to retake the building, but are forced back by heavy gunfire.
5:20 pm – US and Libyan security forces retake the building and evacuate the 25 remaining employees.
6 pm – They are taken to an annex, and it comes under fire. Two more are killed and other wounded.
6:25 – The Council on American Islamic Relations issues a statement calling for calm and saying the film does not represent US or Christian values.
8:30 – The Consulate is retaken and first reports circulate that one American is dead.
10:25 pm – The Romney campaign issues a statement… “It’s disgraceful that the Obama Administration’s first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks,” it says in reference to the Cairo Embassy statement. The campaign did not realize the Cairo statement came before any violence had taken place.
11 pm – The White House says no one approved the original Cairo statement and that it does not reflect the views of the government. They confirm 4 deaths.
Midnight – Stevens body sent to the Benghazi airport.
Since then, there have been violent protests at US embassies in Yemen, and at the Swiss Embassy in Tehran, where US interests are represented.
In Iraq, a militant Shiite group Asaib Ahl al-Haq says all American interests are in danger.
Two American destroyers are now steaming toward Libya as protests there and in Cairo continue for the 3rd day.
There have now been 4 arrests in the Libyan embassy attack.
The State Department says, US facilities around the world are on high alert as the riots continue.