U.S. ambassador killed in Libya

J. Christopher Stevens spoke to local media at the Tibesty Hotel where an African Union delegation was meeting with opposition leaders in Benghazi in 2011. J. Christopher Stevens spoke to local media at the Tibesty Hotel where an African Union delegation was meeting with opposition leaders in Benghazi in 2011. Ben Curtis/AP file photo

U.S. ambassador to Libya J. Christopher Stevens and three other embassy staff were killed in an attack in Benghazi on Wednesday, the White House confirmed on Wednesday.

President Obama strongly condemned the attacks, while also calling on embassies across the globe to increase security.

"Right now, the American people have the families of those we lost in our thoughts and prayers," Obama said. "They exemplified America's commitment to freedom, justice, and partnership with nations and people around the globe, and stand in stark contrast to those who callously took their lives."

The Americans were targeted in an attack in their car, trying to move to a safer venue away from the violent protests that erupted at the U.S. Consulate, Reuters reported. Stevens died of suffocation, while the three other personnel were killed by gunshot wounds, CBS News reports.

Obama praised the work of Stevens, saying he was "a courageous and exemplary representative of the United States."

"Throughout the Libyan revolution, he selflessly served our country and the Libyan people at our mission in Benghazi," Obama said. "As Ambassador in Tripoli, he has supported Libya's transition to democracy. His legacy will endure wherever human beings reach for liberty and justice. I am profoundly grateful for his service to my administration, and deeply saddened by this loss."

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called Stevens a dedicated member of the foreign service, saying he "spoke eloquently about his passion for service, for diplomacy and for the Libyan people."

"As the conflict in Libya unfolded, Chris was one of the first Americans on the ground in Benghazi," she said. "He risked his own life to lend the Libyan people a helping hand to build the foundation for a new, free nation. He spent every day since helping to finish the work that he started. Chris was committed to advancing America’s values and interests, even when that meant putting himself in danger."

Clinton confirmed that one of those killed was Sean Smith, a foreign service information management officer. Smith worked in the foreign service for 21 years.

"Sean Smith was a husband and a father of two, who joined the Department ten years ago," Clinton said in a statement. "Like Chris, Sean was one of our best. Prior to arriving in Benghazi, he served in Baghdad, Pretoria, Montreal, and most recently The Hague."

She said the State Department is waiting to release the names of the other two killed until their next of kin is notified. She also further condemned the violence.

"All the Americans we lost in yesterday’s attacks made the ultimate sacrifice," Clinton said. "We condemn this vicious and violent attack that took their lives, which they had committed to helping the Libyan people reach for a better future."

The Libyan official told Reuters the U.S. has transported the bodies on a military plane to Tripoli to fly them back to the U.S.

The protests broke out due to outrage linked to an American video posted online that is offensive Muslims. In his statement, the president rejected the denigration of religious beliefs, but condemned the violent response.

"While the United States rejects efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others, we must all unequivocally oppose the kind of senseless violence that took the lives of these public servants," Obama said.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by Brocade

    Best of 2016 Federal Forum eBook

    Earlier this summer, Federal and tech industry leaders convened to talk security, machine learning, network modernization, DevOps, and much more at the 2016 Federal Forum. This eBook includes a useful summary highlighting the best content shared at the 2016 Federal Forum to help agencies modernize their network infrastructure.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    GBC Flash Poll Series: Merger & Acquisitions

    Download this GBC Flash Poll to learn more about federal perspectives on the impact of industry consolidation.

  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    A DevOps Roadmap for the Federal Government

    This GBC Report discusses how DevOps is steadily gaining traction among some of government's leading IT developers and agencies.

  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    Joint Enterprise Licensing Agreements

    Read this eBook to learn how defense agencies can achieve savings and efficiencies with an Enterprise Software Agreement.

  • Sponsored by Cloudera

    Government Forum Content Library

    Get all the essential resources needed for effective technology strategies in the federal landscape.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.