Benghazi Mission Attack Fast Facts

CNN  — 

Here’s some background information about the September 11, 2012, attack on the US mission in Benghazi, Libya.


September 11, 2012 - The US mission in Benghazi is attacked and burned. An attack later that night involves mortar and rocket fire against a US diplomatic annex in the city.

US Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other US nationals are killed in the attack.

More than 30 Americans are evacuated.

Initially, the attack was thought to be perpetrated by an angry mob responding to a video made in the United States that mocked Islam and the Prophet Mohammed, but it is later determined to be a terrorist attack.

Congressional and governmental probes into the attack on Benghazi: US State Department Accountability Review Board, House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, House Judiciary Committee, House Foreign Affairs Committee, House Armed Services Committee, House Select Committee on Intelligence, Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs and House Select Committee on Benghazi.

September 11-12, 2012 Attack Timeline as released by the Pentagon

September 11: (Events listed in local Benghazi time)
9:42 p.m. - Armed men begin their assault on the US mission.

9:59 p.m. - A surveillance drone is directed to fly over the US compound, but it is unarmed.

10:32 p.m. - The Office of the Secretary of Defense and the Joint Staff are notified of the attack by the National Military Command Center at the Pentagon. “The information is quickly passed to Secretary Leon Panetta and General Martin Dempsey.”

11 p.m. - Panetta and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Dempsey meet with President Barack Obama at the White House, where they discuss the unfolding situation and how to respond. The meeting had been previously scheduled.

11:10 p.m. - The surveillance drone arrives over the Benghazi facility.

11:30 p.m. - All surviving US personnel are evacuated from the mission. Stevens and State Department computer expert Sean Smith are killed in the initial assault.

September 12:
Midnight to 2 a.m. - Panetta and other senior leaders discuss possible options for further violence if it were to break out. Panetta gives verbal orders for Marine anti-terrorist teams from Rota, Spain, to prepare to deploy to Tripoli and Benghazi. Panetta also orders a special operations force team training in Croatia and an additional special operations force team in the United States to prepare to deploy to a staging base in southern Italy.

1:30 a.m. - A six-man security team from the US Embassy in Tripoli arrives in Benghazi.

2:39 a.m. to 2:53 a.m. - The National Military Command Center gives formal authorization for the deployment of the two special operations force teams from Croatia and the United States.

5:15 a.m. - Attackers launch an assault on a second US facility in Benghazi. Two former US Navy SEALs acting as security contractors are killed. They are identified as Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty.

6:05 a.m. - A C-17 aircraft in Germany is told to prepare to deploy to Libya to evacuate the mission personnel.

7:40 a.m. - The first wave of Americans is evacuated to Tripoli via airplane.

10 a.m. - A second group, including those killed in the attack, are flown to Tripoli.

2:15 p.m. - The C-17 departs from Germany for the flight to Tripoli.

7:17 p.m. - The C-17 leaves Tripoli with the American mission personnel and the bodies of Stevens, Smith, Woods and Doherty.

7:57 p.m. - The US special operations force team based in Croatia arrives at a staging base in Italy.

8:56 p.m. - One of the Marine anti-terrorist teams from Spain arrives in Tripoli.

9:28 p.m. - The US-based special operations force team arrives at its staging base in Italy.


September 11, 2012 - Initial reports claim a mob of angry protestors gather outside the US temporary mission in Benghazi. Protestors reportedly storm the building, and Stevens dies of smoke inhalation as does Smith. Doherty and Woods are killed in a subsequent attack after helping to evacuate those at the mission to a US diplomatic annex.

September 11, 2012 - Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney releases a statement at about 10:30 p.m. ET, “I’m outraged by the attacks on American diplomatic missions in Libya and Egypt and by the death of an American mission worker in Benghazi. It’s disgraceful that the Obama administration’s first response was not to condemn the attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks.” This was in response to the US Embassy in Cairo releasing a statement denouncing the film, “Innocence of Muslims,” that had led to the protests. Later it emerges that the statement preceded the protests.

September 12, 2012 - In an address from the Rose Garden, Obama says, “The United States condemns in the strongest terms this outrageous and shocking attack. … no acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation.” Later that day he says, “No act of terror will dim the light of the values that we proudly shine on the rest of the world, and no act of violence will shake the resolve of the United States of America.”

September 13, 2012 - At a campaign stop in Golden, Colorado, Obama says, “I want people around the world to hear me: To all those who would do us harm, no act of terror will go unpunished.”

September 13, 2012 - Doubts about the cause of the attack pick up steam. A senior US official tells CNN, “The video or 9/11 [anniversary] made a handy excuse and could be fortuitous from their perspective, but this was a clearly planned military-type attack.”

September 14, 2012 - Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton attend a funeral service for the four victims at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland.

September 14, 2012 - CNN reporters find a journal belonging to Stevens on the floor of the mission compound. They use relevant information from the journal for reporting and return it to his family.

September 16, 2012 - US Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice says, “We do not have information at present that leads us to conclude that this was premeditated or preplanned” and “soon after that spontaneous protest began outside of our mission in Benghazi, we believe that it looks like extremist elements, individuals, joined in that effort…”

September 19, 2012 - Matthew Olsen, director of the National Counterterrorism Center, tells the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee that the ambassador and three other Americans “were killed in the course of a terrorist attack on our embassy.” This is the first time an Obama administration official uses the term “terrorist attack” to describe what happened.

September 20, 2012 - After days of repeating that the video mocking Islam caused the attack, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney says: “It is, I think, self-evident that what happened in Benghazi was a terrorist attack. Our embassy was attacked violently, and the result was four deaths of American officials.” US officials also back away from the theory that a protest led to the attack.

September 21, 2012 - Clinton says, “What happened in Benghazi was a terrorist attack, and we will not rest until we have tracked down and brought to justice the terrorists who murdered four Americans.”

September 25, 2012 - Obama says on ABC’s “The View” in response to whether the attack was an act of terrorism: “We’re still doing an investigation. There’s no doubt that (with) the kind of weapons that were used, the ongoing assault, that it wasn’t just a mob action. We don’t have all the information yet and so we’re still gathering it.”

September 27, 2012 - Panetta says, “As we determined the details of what took place there and how that attack took place, that it became clear that there were terrorists who had planned that attack….”

September 28, 2012 - The Office of the Director of National Intelligence announces that despite initial reports the attack was spontaneous, they now believe it was a terrorist attack.

October 1, 2012 - Representative Peter King (R-NY), demands that Rice step down as US ambassador after making what he called misleading comments about the attack in Benghazi.

October 4, 2012 - An FBI team arrives at the mission to investigate. They are delayed nearly three weeks because of security concerns.

October 9, 2012 - Two senior State Department officials brief reporters, saying there was no prior indication that an attack was imminent, there was “nothing unusual” throughout the day of the attack, and that Stevens held a meeting with a Turkish diplomat that evening and then retired to his room in one of the compound’s buildings at 9 p.m.

October 9, 2012 - CNN reports that Eric Nordstrom, regional security officer in Libya until July 2012, sent two diplomatic cables to the state Department requesting additional security agents for the Benghazi mission. The cables were sent in March and July 2012.

October 10, 2012 - Charlene Lamb, Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Wood, and Ambassador Patrick Kennedy testify before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

October 15, 2012 - Clinton says, “I take responsibility. I’m in charge of the State Department’s 60,000-plus people all over the world, 275 posts.”

October 16, 2012 - During a presidential debate, Obama says: “I am ultimately responsibl