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September 27, 2012

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United States responds to attacks on embassies Anti-American protests and violence began in Egypt and Libya on Tuesday, September 11 and spread to over 20 countries across North Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, and Australia over the weekend of September 14-16. Throughout the weekend of September 21-23 demonstrations continued and spread to Greece on September 23. Many of the protests are reportedly in reaction to the film “Innocence of Muslims.” There are indications of other motives behind the protests, such as the eleventh anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States and the killing of the terrorist cell Al Qaeda’s second in command in an apparent U.S. airstrike in Yemen on September 11. The protests began in Egypt on September 11, as thousands of demonstrators tore down the U.S. flag from the walls of the U.S. Embassy in Cairo and replaced it with a black flag proclaiming the Islamic faith. Violent protests started in Yemen, Tunisia, and Sudan on September 14. On September 15, protesters in Australia confronted police outside the U.S. Consulate. Protests carried on through the weekend of September 14-16. On September 19, the U.S. temporarily closed its consulate in an Indonesian city. France also announced on September 19 that they would close 20 of their embassies in Arab and Mus-

lim nations following the publication of a cartoon depicting a naked Mohammad in a French magazine. Across the Middle East, members of police forces have been injured. One protester in Pakistan died after inhaling fumes from a burning American flag on September 17. Several other protesters have been arrested, injured, and killed. On September 11, the U.S. Embassy in Cairo issued a statement condemning “the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims, as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions.” The embassy later deleted the statement from their website and Twitter account after the White House administration said the statement was not cleared by Washington. On September 11 in Benghazi, Libya, the U.S. Ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens, and three of his staff were murdered in an attack on the U.S. Consulate building. Matt Olsen, the director of the National Counterterrorism Center, said the attack was directed toward the U.S. Embassy. Sufyan Ben Qumu, a former Guantanamo detainee, is believed to have had a major role in the attack, which is also being traced to Al Qaeda. There had been four prior attacks on diplomatic targets in the area since June of 2012. Libya’s interim president Mohammed Maga-

rief ordered illegitimate militias in Libya to disband by September 25. The film cited as the source of the protests is the “Innocence of Muslims.” The film is considered blasphemous by Muslims because of its depiction of Mohammed. Actors who participated in the film said they had no idea that the movie was about the Prophet Mohammad and that most of their lines about Islam were dubbed in during post-production. The filmmaker is Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, who used the alias Sam Bacile. Nakoula was taken in for questioning on September 15 to review if he had violated his terms of probation from his prior conviction of bank fraud. The Obama administration had asked YouTube to review the video “to see if it was in compliance with their terms of use,” according to White House Press Secretary Jay Carney. YouTube determined that the video was within their guidelines. However, the film is not the only reason for the attacks on U.S. Embassies. On September 16, Magarief said in an interview with NPR that he believes Al Qaeda used the protests as a cover to attack the U.S. Consulate on the eleventh anniversary of September 11. Magarief said, “The idea that this criminal and cowardly act was a spontaneous protest that just spun out of control is completely unfounded and prepos-

Libyans examine the remains of the attack on the United States Consulate in Benghazi, Libya on September 12 after the attacks the day before. AP Images terous. We firmly believe that this was a pre-calculated, pre-planned attack that was carried out specifically to attack the U.S. Consulate.” In contrast, Susan Rice, the U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., denied that there were any other motives behind the attacks in an interview on Fox News Sunday on September 16. On September 18, Carney said that the FBI was investigating the attack to determine the exact events and their causes.

Carolina VonKampen Copy Editor

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