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American Ambassador Denies Claims Attack in Libya was Premeditated

WASHIINGTON, D.C. – The White House continues to stand behind its narrative that the attack on our embassy in Libya last week was a spontaneous reaction to an anti-Muslim film. Making the rounds of the Sunday morning news shows, Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice defended the claim that the attack on the American consulate in Benghazi was not premeditated.

“Our current best assessment, based on the information that we have at present, is that, in fact, what this began as, it was a spontaneous – not a premeditated – response to what had transpired in Cairo,” Rice said on ABC’s “This Week.”

“In Cairo, as you know, a few hours earlier, there was a violent protest that was undertaken in reaction to this very offensive video that was disseminated,” Rice said, referring to protests in Egypt Tuesday over a film that depicts the Prophet Muhammad as a fraud.

“We believe that folks in Benghazi, a small number of people came to the embassy to – or to the consulate, rather, to replicate the sort of challenge that was posed in Cairo,” Rice said. “And then as that unfolded, it seems to have been hijacked, let us say, by some individual clusters of extremists who came with heavier weapons… And it then evolved from there.”

But such claims are disputed by Libyan President Mohamed Yousef El-Magariaf, who said this weekend that he had “no doubt” the attack was planned by individuals from outside Libya weeks ahead of time. “It was planned, definitely, it was planned by foreigners, by people who entered the country a few months ago, and they were planning this criminal act since their arrival,” Magariaf told CBS News.

There is no doubt that diplomats at the United States consulate in Libya were warned three days before the assault for the potential of imminent problems. Jamal Mabrouk, a member of the February 17th Brigade, told CNN that he and a battalion commander had a meeting about the economy and security. “The situation is frightening, it scares us,” Mabrouk said they told the U.S. officials.

The February 17th Brigade — a militia connected to the government but not part of Libya’s armed forces — was directly involved in the rescue of the American staff trapped after the attack Tuesday night. Mabrouk said he received a call from an official in Tripoli, who said he had been called by a “terrified” American in Benghazi.

The official was at the safe-house in which the Americans had sought refuge. Mabrouk said the Brigade asked the Americans if they needed help — but were told that the situation was dangerous but under control.

A few hours later, Mabrouk received another call from Tripoli about the arrival of a U.S. team at Benghazi airport that needed transport into the city. He met the seven Americans, who were heavily armed but not in military uniform, on the runway and provided them with an armed escort. As soon as the two vehicles carrying the seven Americans arrived at the safe house, they came under intense attack — including a volley of grenades and machine-gun fire. The assailants then fled.

While mobs may have gathered in response to an obscure anti-Muslim film, all evidence points to an attack planned to coincide with the anniversary of 9/11. The attack that led to the death of a U.S. ambassador was coordinated and involved heavy weapons and inside knowledge of where a safe-house would be.

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