The Magazine

Confusion or Coverup?

What we knew about the Benghazi attack and when we knew it.

Oct 22, 2012, Vol. 18, No. 06 • By THOMAS JOSCELYN
Widget tooltip
Single Page Print Larger Text Smaller Text Alerts

September 11, Benghazi (beginning around 3:40 p.m. EDT) – The terrorist attack on the Benghazi consulate begins. It lasts hours. The terrorists use AK-47s and rocket-propelled grenades in a complex assault on the compound. The assailants use diesel fuel to set the compound’s buildings ablaze. 

September 11 (10:08 p.m. EDT) – Secretary of State Hillary Clinton releases a statement on the day’s events. “Our commitment to religious tolerance goes back to the very beginning of our nation. But let me be clear: There is never any justification for violent acts of this kind.” 

September 12, Washington (10:43 a.m. EDT) – In the White House Rose Garden, President Obama addresses the nation concerning the attack in Benghazi. “We reject all efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others,” he says. “But there is absolutely no justification to this type of senseless violence.” The president adds, “No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation, alter that character, or eclipse the light of the values that we stand for.”

September 12 – The press is connecting the dots to al Qaeda. CNN’s Wolf Blitzer tells viewers that while it is “unclear right now .  .  . it sounds like that al Qaeda operation in Libya is very, very real indeed.” Blitzer continues: “All of this suggests to me .  .  . that the attack yesterday on the U.S. ambassador and other Americans on the 11th anniversary of 9/11 was not necessarily simply a coincidence.”

September 12, Washington (evening) – Under Secretary of State for Management Patrick F. Kennedy describes the events in Benghazi as a terrorist attack during a private briefing for House and Senate staffers, according to Fox News. 

September 13, Sanaa, Yemen – The U.S. embassy is stormed after Sheikh Abdul Majid al Zindani calls for protests, according to the New York Times. Zindani is a known al Qaeda supporter who was designated an Osama bin Laden “loyalist” by the Treasury Department in 2004.

September 13, Washington (evening) – Secretary Clinton honors the end of Ramadan alongside Libyan ambassador Ali Aujali, who denounces the “terrorist attack” in Libya. Clinton refers to the attack as “the actions of a small and savage group” and again denounces the anti-Islam video. “Unfortunately, however, over the last 24 hours, we have also seen violence spread elsewhere,” Clinton says. “Some seek to justify this behavior as a response to inflammatory, despicable material posted on the Internet. As I said earlier today, the United States rejects both the content and the message of that video. The United States deplores any intentional effort to denigrate the religious beliefs of others.”

September 14, Tunis, Tunisia – The U.S. embassy is assaulted by a group called Ansar al Sharia Tunisia. That group is headed by a notorious al Qaeda-linked terrorist named Seifallah ben Hassine, aka Abu Iyad al Tunisi. The embassy staff has already been evacuated, but Hassine’s mob ransacks American property, including cars and a school. In 2000, Hassine cofounded the Tunisian Combatant Group (TCG). According to the United Nations, the TCG was created “in coordination with” al Qaeda. Hassine spent years in prison in Tunisia but was freed in 2011. 

Recent Blog Posts

The Weekly Standard Archives

Browse 15 Years of the Weekly Standard

Old covers