Libyan Guards Recount What Happened in Benghazi
More than a month after the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, U.S. officials have yet to talk to many of the Libyan guards on duty at the American mission on that fatal evening. Fearful of reprisal from the still unknown perpetrators of the attack, the guards have gone into hiding; and their vivid recollections are giving way to a sense of abandonment by the American government, which offered them no protection from the attackers the guards believe want them dead.
TIME's Steven Sotloff has talked to the guards for their account of what happened on the night of Sept. 11, 2012 and the early hours of the day after. Five of the guards were employees of the British security company Blue Mountain, and three others were members of the Islamist-leaning February 17th militia who were tasked with providing diplomatic security for foreign missions.
To protect them from possible retribution, their names have been changed. What is clear is that, as others have reported, there was no protest, simply a sudden siege of the compound; U.S. security forces--including U.S. Marines who arrived at an American safe house outside the consulate grounds--were overwhelmed and stymied; and that the looters apparently came upon the body of a still-breathing Ambassador Chris Stevens.
It's detailed... worth the read
U.S. reinforcements, however, were on the way. Around 2 a.m., eight Marines sent from the embassy in Tripoli landed at the Benghazi airport. But Libyan officials there initially prevented them from pushing ahead with their rescue mission. "[The Americans] wanted all eight to go to the annex," said Faruq, a leader of the Libyan Shield Brigade, one of numerous local brigades and tasked that night with coordinating the arrival of the Marines. "But we were told to only allow two."
The Libyans apparently did not want a bunch of U.S. military men running around their country for fear of causing an uproar among citizens. But the Marines were adamant they would go as a team. After several back and forth conversations with Libya Shield's commander, the Libyans finally relented.
But as soon as the Marines solved one problem, they encountered another -- they had only GPS coordinates and no address for the annex, which was supposed to be hush-hush in any case. "We couldn't arrange our forces to go to a place we didn't know about," Faruq said, explaining his reluctance to send his own soldiers with the Marines. After another round of logistical squabbling, the Marines finally departed the airport around 2:30 a.m. in two Toyota Land Cruisers. An additional 10-to-15 Libyan security vehicles accompanied them to the annex, which turned out to be approximately 20 minutes away.
When they arrived, they found the Americans at the annex tired and nervous. Then, around 3 a.m., bullets began hitting just outside the annex. "Mortars started landing. They hit the roof. There were several and we were all confused," said Faruq of the Libyan Shield brigade. "The Marines put on their night vision goggles and took up positions," said Faruq. "Some positioned themselves in the doorway and some set up inside." It was during this attack that former Navy SEAL commandos Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty were killed.
Posted by: Sherry