Libyan leader says 50 arrested in U.S. consulate attack

WASHINGTON Sun Sep 16, 2012 4:28pm EDT

President of the newly-empowered Libyan national assembly, Mohammed Magarief speaks to Reuters, in Tripoli August 11, 2012. REUTERS/Esam Al-Fetori

President of the newly-empowered Libyan national assembly, Mohammed Magarief speaks to Reuters, in Tripoli August 11, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Esam Al-Fetori

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Libyan leader Mohammed Magarief said on Sunday that about 50 people have been arrested in connection with the deadly attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi last week, which he said was planned by foreigners linked to al Qaeda.

The attack on Tuesday in Benghazi came amid protests over a video made in the United States that Muslims saw as blaspheming the Prophet Mohammad. It resulted in the deaths of the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans.

Magarief, in an interview on CBS's "Face the Nation," said some of those arrested were not Libyans and were linked to al Qaeda, the militant Muslim group that carried out the 9/11 attacks on the United States. Magarief, who became president of the national assembly after the bloody U.S.-backed ouster of Muammar Gaddafi, described others as affiliates or sympathizers.

"It was definitely planned by foreigners, by people who entered the country a few months ago and they were planning criminal acts since their arrival," Magarief said, adding that some were from Mali and Algeria.

He said the security situation in Libya remained "difficult" for Americans, as well as for Libyans. The United States wants the FBI to investigate the consulate attack, but Magarief said it may be too soon to send in investigators.

"It may be better for them to stay away for a little while until we do what we have to do ourselves," he said.

Magarief said there was little doubt the assault was planned rather than a spontaneous reaction to the video, citing the fact that it came on the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

"These ugly deeds, criminal deeds, directed against late Ambassador Chris Stevens and his colleagues do not resemble in any way, in any sense, the aspirations, feelings of the Libyans toward the United States and its citizens," he said.

The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, said on Sunday talks shows that preliminary information indicated that the consulate attack was not planned.

"There's no question, as we've seen in the past with things like 'The Satanic Verses,' with the cartoon of the Prophet Mohammad, there have been such things that have sparked outrage and anger and this has been the proximate cause of what we've seen," she said.

(This version of the story corrects Magarief's title)

(Writing by Bill Trott; Editing by David Brunnstrom)

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Comments (18)
anneshelby wrote:
Romney cash can buy anything.

Sep 16, 2012 11:06am EDT  --  Report as abuse
Well that is encouraging. I’m glad the Libyans are taking it seriusly. The attack was an obvious 9/11 reprisal but Al Qeada is losing leaders faster than they can replace them.

Sep 16, 2012 11:13am EDT  --  Report as abuse
Obama created the Arab spring and instigated regime change in Egypt and Libya by arming Al Qaeda. He’s trying to do the same in Syria. He arms our enemies then blames every one but himself when our people are killed, sodomized and dragged through the road like animals. Blood in the streets. Chaos everywhere. The economy is a disaster beyond belief. If our credit rating is dropped any lower we’ll have to finance the national debt with title pawn loans. The population is systematically divided and spurred daily for class warfare. From the mainstream media a barrage of propaganda that would make Joseph Goebbels jealous. Are we happy, yet?

Sep 16, 2012 11:19am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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