Gunmen kill U.S. teacher in Libya's Benghazi

TRIPOLI Thu Dec 5, 2013 4:40pm EST

The International School Benghazi (ISB) is pictured in Benghazi December 5, 2013. Gunmen shot dead an American chemistry teacher working at the international school in the Libyan city of Benghazi, medical and security sources said on Thursday. REUTERS/Esam Omran Al-Fetori

The International School Benghazi (ISB) is pictured in Benghazi December 5, 2013. Gunmen shot dead an American chemistry teacher working at the international school in the Libyan city of Benghazi, medical and security sources said on Thursday.

Credit: Reuters/Esam Omran Al-Fetori

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TRIPOLI (Reuters) - Gunmen shot dead an American teacher working in the Libyan city of Benghazi on Thursday more than a year after Islamist militants stormed the U.S. consulate there, killing the U.S. ambassador and three others.

Remembered as a caring and friendly teacher, the victim, Ronnie Smith, described himself on his Twitter feed as "Libya's best friend."

Libya's fragile government is struggling to contain former fighters and militants who two years after the fall of Muammar Gaddafi are challenging a fragile state that is still building up a national army with Western aid.

Security sources and school officials said the American was shot as he was exercising in the city where he worked as a chemistry teacher at an international school.

"He was doing his morning exercise when gunmen just shot him. I don't know why," said Adel al Mansouri, a manager at the school in Benghazi. "He was so sweet with everyone."

It was not immediately clear who was responsible for the attack but assassinations and bombings are common in Benghazi. Three soldiers also were killed in attacks there on Thursday.

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf confirmed a U.S. citizen was shot and killed in Benghazi but gave no further details. The University of Texas released a statement identifying the teacher as Ronnie Smith, who had received a master's degree in chemistry from the school in 2006.

"Ronnie loved Libya and was dedicated to his students to help them aspire to the their dreams," said Dave Barrett, Smith's pastor at the Austin Stone Community Church, in a statement.

His students in Libya told Reuters in an interview over Skype he was planning to visit his home state of Texas for the holidays.

"We asked him why he came to Libya out of all of the countries in the world. He told us that he didn't come to Libya for the money or anything. He said he just wanted to help the students," said Malik Yamin, one of Smith's students.

"He was the best teacher we had. He came to our house, he helped us study, he was a really nice guy," Yamin said.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said there had been no claim of responsibility for the killing and that the Obama administration expected the Libyan government to investigate thoroughly.

Libyan special forces there have been battling militants from Ansar al-Sharia, the group U.S. officials blame for attacking the American consulate in the eastern city in September 2012.

Late last month fighting broke out between army special forces and members of Ansar al-Sharia in Benghazi, killing at least nine people before the Islamist militants retreated from their main base in Benghazi.

Worried about stability in the key European oil supplier, Western governments are training up Libya's nascent armed forces but those efforts are just starting and militias still control parts of the country.

Former fighters once employed to guard oil sites have taken over ports in the east, disrupting exports in protests for regional autonomy while protesters in the west blocked gas pipelines and ports to demand more ethnic rights.

(Reporting by Ayman al-Warfalli in Benghazi, Feras Bosalum in Tripoli and Jim Forsyth in Texas; Writing by Patrick Markey; Editing by Mark Trevelyan, Bill Trott and Alden Bentley)

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Comments (1)
MikeBarnett wrote:
If the US intervenes militarily in the internal affairs of other countries, then US citizens will be killed. In 2011, US leaders exceeded a UN resolution and, effectively, gave Libya to islamic insurgents. By this action, the US leaders reduced oil shipments from Libya by 90% when most of Qaddafi’s oil went to the US and NATO. This has helped keep the price of oil about $100 per barrel and gives more money to the Sunni Arab Gulf states whose citizens donate to al Qaeda, the Taliban, and other islamic insurgent groups. Since the 1970′s, the CIA has published an annual report on terrorist financing, so US and NATO leaders know about the link between the price of oil and terrorist finances. US leaders have, in effect, become the chief financial backers for islamic insurgents, and they have done this for the past 12 years. US leaders have given aid and comfort to the enemies of the US in a time of war, the US Constitution’s definition of treason. US leaders should be impeached, removed from office, arrested, tried, convicted, and executed for treason.

In addition, US and NATO leaders are war criminals who illegally exceeded the UN resolution on Libya in 2011. Instead of creating a “No Fly Zone,” the US and NATO chose to become the Libyan Rebel Air Force to enable the rebels to defeat Qaddafi. The African Union and China condemned the exceeding of the UN resolution, but the US and NATO leaders ignored them. Fortunately, US trade with Africa fell after 2011 while China’s African trade increased by double digits each year. The US and NATO deserve the damages to their economies and their people because they created these problems for themselves. The World Court should consider charges of war crimes against US and NATO leaders.

Dec 05, 2013 3:59pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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