Republican lawmakers have released documents showing that Ambassador Chris Stevens had written several cables to the State Department warning them about the increasing terrorist activity in Benghazi. The last warning was sent on the day he and three other Americans were murdered by terrorists. Stevens wasn’t the only one sounding the alarm. The State Department was apprised of the deteriorating situation there as early as February, and requests for additional security were denied.
By Sept. 4, Stevens’ aides were reporting back to Washington on the “strong Revolutionary and Islamist sentiment” in the city.
Scarcely more than two months had passed since Stevens had notified the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Justice and other agencies about a “recent increase in violent incidents,” including “attacks against western interests.” “Until the GOL (Government of Libya) is able to effectively deal with these key issues,” Stevens wrote on June 25, “the violence is likely to continue and worsen.”
After the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi had been damaged by an improvised explosive device, earlier that month, Stevens had reported to his superiors that an Islamist group had claimed credit for the attack, and in so doing, had “described the attack as targeting the Christians supervising the management of the consulate.”
“Islamic extremism appears to be on the rise in eastern Libya,” the ambassador wrote, adding that “the Al-Qaeda flag has been spotted several times flying over government buildings and training facilities …”
The documents also contain evidence that the State Department’s denials of requests for enhanced security in Benghazi in the months leading up to the attack may have contributed to the ability of the attackers to plan their assault on the consulate and annex grounds without being detected.