What exactly happened in Benghazi and what should I know about it?

The Benghazi attack triggered many controversies and created a lot of conspiracy theories. In a deadly attack on September 11, 2012, over 125 armed militants

Eric Sof

US compound in Benghazi set on fire on September 11, 2012
US compound in Benghazi, Libya set on fire on September 11, 2012 (Photo: XY)

The Benghazi attack triggered many controversies and created a lot of conspiracy theories. In a deadly attack on September 11, 2012, over 125 armed militants successfully breached the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya. They killed American Ambassador Christopher Stevens, three other consular staff members, Foreign Service Officer Sean Smith, and two former Navy Seals working as security personnel, Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty. So, what exactly happened in Benghazi and what would I know about it?


Attacks on American diplomatic facilities happen periodically, and fatalities often occur – but attacks are typically halted at a security perimeter, and the casualties are not usually members of the American Foreign Service.

Concurrently, there were mounting protests outside other American embassies and consulates throughout the Middle East and North Africa. This included having 3000 protestors outside of the American embassy in Cairo, Egypt. A video ostensibly sparked these protests on YouTube that claimed to be a trailer for an anti-Muslim movie supposedly produced in America.

Former Navy SEALs Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty died in Benghazi Libya 2012 during the US Embassy compound attack
Former Navy SEALs Tyrone Woods, and Glen Doherty died in Benghazi, Libya 2012, during the U.S. Embassy compound attack (Photo: Reddit)

The degree to which the Benghazi assault was an extension of these other “spontaneous” protests is hotly debated. Ansar Al-Sharia, the group, deemed principally responsible for the assault, did issue a statement the following day claiming that – although it was not the “sole party” involved – the assault was a response to the video. For a variety of reasons, many doubt the truthfulness of that statement.


The controversies regarding the attack are criticisms regarding inadequate security for the embassy personnel who were stationed in Libya during a revolution that was encouraged by the American government, the lack of an American rescue response during the attack, and the untrue claim from the State Department and White House in the aftermath that a spontaneous demonstration to a video caused the attack.

What exactly happened in Benghazi 2012 attack?
An armed man waves his rifle as buildings and cars are engulfed in flames after being set on fire inside the U.S. Consulate compound in Benghazi on September 11. (Photo: X.Y.)

Stinger missiles

According to some online articles, some theories claim that Ambassador Stevens was after American-made Stinger surface-to-air missiles that had been secretly supplied to Ansar al-Sharia without Congressional permission or oversight. Allegedly, some of those shoulder-fired Stingers had emerged in Afghanistan and had been used to bring down an American Chinook helicopter the previous July. Luckily the missile hadn’t been properly armed, so the target was not destroyed but still had to land.

Subsequently, the missile serial number was traced to a batch allegedly stored in Qatar by the CIA. It is assumed that is when President Obama and Secretary Hillary Clinton panicked and ordered Ambassador Stevens to rush to Benghazi and negotiate the return of the Stingers. Allegedly, it was Clinton’s State Department – not the CIA – that authorized the transfer of some Stingers to the Taliban in Afghanistan. Some believe that some of the disclosed Wikileak emails support those claims.

But, further investigations into the Benghazi incident found no evidence to support those claims. Besides the U.S. Senate Select Committee investigation, several other probes like the FBI investigation, Five House Committees inquiry, and the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs investigation were carried out in the Benghazi attack case.

Timeline and facts

1. Libya was and continues to be a mess. Lawlessness abounds, as do independent militias. Weapons are everywhere, up to anti-aircraft cannons. It is the NRA’s dream society.

2. The U.S. State Department-owned a villa in Benghazi. It was not an embassy or consulate. Its status was obscure. Likely, it would have been sold within a year.

2.1 In February of 2012, it was recommended that it be made into a State Department outpost, with three clerks and 5 Security guards. Neither seems to have been provided; there were no clerks; therefore, no guards were needed.

3. A CIA operation (the Annex) was about a kilometer away. This was supposedly secret and, of course, completely separate from the State Department.

4. A month before the Benghazi incident, the State Department, under Hilary Clinton, issued its annual intelligence advisory. The advisory stated that, although Bin Laden was dead, there were still substantial threats from Islamic terrorists, including Al Queda affiliates.

5. Ambassador Stevens was a very good man, knowledgeable about Libya with decades of experience in the area. He had an opening in his schedule in the second week of September and decided to go to Benghazi.

6. The Ambassador was responsible for selecting the size of the security force that accompanied him. He chose to take five security guards, exactly the number suggested in February.

7. During that week, a video designed to insult Muslims caused protests at a hundred U.S. embassies and consulates, with at least a dozen casualties.

8. At 9:30 PM (local time) on September 11, a mob stormed the Benghazi villa. Ambassador Stevens barricaded himself in one building with two security guards. The mob set the villa on fire, and Stevens and one guard succumbed to smoke.

9. Within one hour, a relief force arrived at the villa from the CIA Annex. They cannot find the ambassador and – faced with a fluid situation – retreat to the CIA Annex, which briefly comes under fire.

10. Within 3 hours of the attack, a rescue team from Tripoly is formed and is on the way.

11. By this time, the Joint Chiefs of the Defense Department are monitoring the situation by unarmed drone and started mobilizing FAST response teams, the closest in Spain, about 2000 kilometers away.

* No, there were no closer forces, and Hillary Clinton is NOT responsible for the Department of Defense and had no control over the rescue forces.

12. Passers-by at the villa retrieve Ambassador Stevens and take him to a hospital, where he dies.

13. The Tripoly rescue team arrives at the CIA Annex at 5:15 AM, just as a mortar attack starts. Three shells are fired, the last of which hits the Annex, killing two security guards.

14. Starting at about 8 AM, all Americans in Benghazi are evacuated to Tripoly and then to Germany.

15. Less than 24 hours after the start of the attack, the military response team arrives in Libya.

16. While the incident is happening, Mitt Romney attempts to politicize the incident by lying about what happened.

17. In the days that followed, both Reuters and Al Jazeera reported, based on eyewitnesses, that the video sparked the attack. Eventually, one of the attack’s perpetrators is caught; he also blames the video.

18. Hillary Clinton never blames the video for the attack on Benghazi.

* At least publicly. There are unsubstantiated rumors that she mentions to some individuals. This is denied by other people present.

19. The Republicans politicize the event heavily, instituting no less than eight investigations, lasting for over three years. Several Republicans admit that the purpose of the investigations is to try to embarrass Hillary.

* The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of the Spec Ops Magazine. While we make every effort to ensure that the information we are sharing is accurate, we welcome any comments, suggestions, or correction of errors.

Eric Sof

Eric Sof holds a master's degree in Political Science, specializing in International Peacekeeping Studies. He has over a decade of experience as a former member of an elite counterterrorism unit. Additionally, he is a firearms instructor and currently serves as a member of the SWAT unit.

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7 thoughts on “What exactly happened in Benghazi and what should I know about it?”

  1. This account is bull! The truth has been seen. Ambassador Stevens was not being taken to the hospital, he was being tortured! Pictures and videos don’t lie!

  2. I “heard” there was a ship in the Med a lot closer than Spain, but that it would’ve violated some international treaty or laws or something for them to deploy the unit that was on it. Apparently Obama and Clinton wanted to send them but were advised they couldn’t legally do so, and the commander on that ship was told that. Technically, it wasn’t a “stand down order” because they were never stood up, but it was more of “we see what you see, but don’t unleash the hounds.” It was a call made in the moment that meant an unhappy ending either way. Save some lives now and possibly start a war with a lot more lives lost, while already shorthanded cause of Iraq/Afghanistan, or follow the rules and hope the on hand people were successful. It’s easy for people to arm chair QB after the fact and question why one thing was done vs another, but I think the best call was made in the moment.

  3. Rice lied that is what the end game is here and Hillary lost face over it, she as guilt as she can be . Please stop protecting this criminal Hillary and Rice

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