When I wrote about the embassy jihad in Cairo last night, I mentioned that there were reports that the American consulate in Benghazi had also been attacked. By the time I posted the news feed at midnight, the latest dispatches said that one American “official” had been killed when the consulate was torched.
The reports from early this morning revealed that the American ambassador to Libya and three other members of the embassy staff had been killed. Different versions of exactly what happened have appeared throughout the day, and I’ll cover some of those later in this post.
The trigger for the murders in Libya was the same as for the flag-burning in Cairo: the appearance of a film insulting Mohammed. It was made by a California real estate developer named Sam Bacile, and later promoted by pastor Terry Jones during his 9-11 “International Judge Muhammad Day” yesterday.
When I first watched Mr. Bacile’s “trailer” yesterday, it had been viewed about 7,000 times. As of this writing, the number of views stands at nearly three quarters of a million, and is presumably still rising fast. And that doesn’t count the mirrors and versions subtitled in Arabic — this thing has gone massively viral.
So the protesters in Cairo and the murderers in Benghazi have been quite successful in spreading the meme that they claim to want to suppress. If they had left the movie alone, it would have languished in obscurity, never to offend — or even be seen by — more than a handful of people.
But that’s not the way the Religion of Peace works. If someone insults the Prophet, he must be punished. And not only the offender himself, but the entire collective of people who are associated with him in any way. In this case, the guilty parties include Israel and all Jews (since California Jews funded and produced the movie), all Christians (since a Christian group publicized it), and all Americans (since the secular freedoms enjoyed by Americans are what allowed the blasphemous material to be created in the first place).
The Great Satan and the Little Satan must pay dearly for their offenses. Those ten years of patient work of Presidents Bush and Obama have been for naught — they still hate us, now more than ever! How can we ever make it up to them?
Political pressure seems to have pushed President Obama away from his usual stance of obsequious apology towards Islam. Now he’s ready to hunt ’em down and bring ’em to justice.
According to Reuters:
Obama Vows to Track Down Ambassador’s Killers
WASHINGTON/BENGHAZI, Libya (Reuters) – President Barack Obama branded the killing of the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans an “outrageous attack” on Wednesday and vowed to track down the perpetrators, while ordering a tightening of diplomatic security worldwide.
The ambassador, Christopher Stevens, and the other Americans were killed after Islamist gunmen attacked the U.S. consulate and a safe house refuge in Benghazi on Tuesday night. The attackers were part of a mob blaming America for a film they said insulted the Prophet Mohammad.
U.S. government officials said the Benghazi attack may have been planned in advance and there were indications that members of a militant faction calling itself Ansar al Sharia – which translates as Supporters of Islamic Law – may have been involved.
They also said some reporting from the region suggested that members of Al-Qaeda’s north Africa-based affiliate, known as Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, may have been involved.
“It bears the hallmarks of an organized attack,” one U.S. official said. However, some U.S. officials cautioned against assuming that the attacks were deliberately organized to coincide with the September 11 anniversary.
Will it stop with Libya? Tunisia and Morocco seem to be next in line:
The violence in Benghazi and Cairo threatened to spread to other Muslim countries on Wednesday. A U.S. official said Washington had ordered the evacuation of all U.S. personnel from Benghazi to Tripoli and was reducing staffing in the capital to emergency levels.
Police fired teargas at angry demonstrators outside the U.S. embassy in Tunisia and several hundred people gathered in front of the U.S. embassy in Sudan. In Morocco, a few dozen protesters burned American flags and chanted slogans near the U.S. consulate in Casablanca.
Mitt Romney, to use the spin offered by major American media, “played politics” with the incident:
Mitt Romney, Obama’s rival in the November vote, criticized the president’s response to the crisis. He said the timing of a statement from the U.S. embassy in Cairo denouncing “efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims” made Obama look weak as protesters were attacking U.S. missions.
He said it was “disgraceful” to be seen to be apologizing for American values of free speech. Obama’s campaign accused Romney of scoring political points at a time of national tragedy.
Detailed reports about what happened say that the ambassador was killed not at the consulate, but at a supposed safe house to which he had been rushed after the violence began:
Libya’s Deputy Interior Minister Wanis Al-Sharif said U.S. staff were rushed to a Benghazi safe house after the initial attack on the consulate and an evacuation plane with U.S. commando units then arrived from Tripoli to evacuate them from the safe house.
“It was supposed to be a secret place and we were surprised the armed groups knew about it. There was shooting,” Sharif said. Two U.S. personnel were killed there, he said. Two other people were killed at the main consular building and between 12 and 17 wounded.
Witnesses said the mob included tribesmen, militia and other gunmen. Hamam, a 17-year-old who took part in the attack, said Ansar al-Sharia cars arrived at the start of the protest but left once fighting started.
“The protesters were running around the compound just looking for Americans, they just wanted to find an American so they could catch one,” he said.
According to The Los Angeles Times, the new Libyan government is doing everything it can to distance itself from the Salafist murderers and condemn the attackers:
Killing of U.S. Ambassador, 3 Staffers Condemned by Libyan Officials
CAIRO — Senior officials in Libya on Wednesday condemned the killing of the U.S. ambassador to the country and three other Americans by armed protesters in a furor over an anti-Muslim video.
“This is a criminal act that will not go unpunished. This is part of a series of cowardice acts by supporters of the former regime who want to undermine Libya’s revolution,” Prime Minister Abdurrahim Keib told reporters.
Keib said the details of the attack were under investigation.
Libyan President Mohamed Magariaf apologized for the deaths and vowed that justice would be served.
“We refuse that our nation’s lands be used for cowardice and revengeful acts. It is not a victory for God’s Sharia or his prophet for such disgusting acts to take place,” Magariaf said. “We apologize to the United States, the people of America, and the entire world. We and the American government are standing on the same side, we stand on the same side against outlaws.”
The Guardian published a lengthy background piece on the man behind the prophet-insulting movie, Sam Bacile:
The Hollywood Connection: How a Real Estate Man’s Film Led to Rage in Libya
The Innocence of Muslims drew almost no one to the cinema in California. In Benghazi it provoked deadly fury
The long fuse that led to the explosion of violence that killed the US ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens, was lit last summer in the pleasant hills of southern California, where a man who claims to be an Israeli-American real estate developer, Sam Bacile, set about making a film.
By his own account, Bacile raised a budget of $5m (£3m) from 100 unnamed Jewish donors for The Innocence of Muslims, which he wrote and directed himself, with the aim of demonstrating his belief, as he described it to the Wall Street Journal, that “Islam is a cancer”.
To that end, Bacile got his amateur cast to depict the prophet Muhammad as a feckless philanderer who approved of child abuse. It took three months, 59 actors and about 45 crew. The result was two hours of stumbling dialogue and wooden acting among flimsy sets, and a stream of gratuitous insults aimed at Muslims. It was screened in an almost empty cinema in Hollywood earlier this year.
In another age, that would probably have been the end of the story. But in the YouTube era, in which the voices of fanatics are amplified, it was a bomb primed for detonation, months later and thousands of miles away.
Bacile posted a 13-minute English-language trailer on YouTube in early July but it was only in the past week that it appears to have caught the attention of combatants in the online culture wars.
A Florida pastor, Terry Jones, who had triggered protests in the Islamic world by burning the Qur’an and with his campaign to stop the construction of a mosque at the site of the 9/11 attacks, promoted the film on his website and announced his intention to broadcast the trailer at his Gainesville church this week.
“It is an American production, not designed to attack Muslims but to show the destructive ideology of Islam,” he said in a statement. “The movie further reveals in a satirical fashion the life of Muhammad.”
The film clip was also spotted and promoted last week by Morris Sadik, an Egyptian Coptic Christian based in California who runs a small virulently Islamophobic group called the National American Coptic Assembly. It was later denounced by mainstream Copts in Egypt, but it was too late to stop it going viral.
At some point over the summer a version of the YouTube trailer surfaced with the dialogue dubbed in Egyptian Arabic – Bacile says he has no idea who did the translation but has claimed it sounded accurate – and the translated clip was picked up by a firebrand Cairo television host, Sheikh Khaled Abdallah, who has a record of focusing on perceived threats to Islam and amplifying them. He aired clips from the video on his television show on Saturday, and the same video clips were posted to YouTube on Monday.
As the Arab audience for the film grew exponentially, militant Islamists called for a mass protest at the US embassy in Cairo. The organisers told Associated Press that planning began last week when Sadik began promoting the trailers but the support for the demonstration snowballed after the Sheikh Abdallah programme on Saturday.
A crowd of some 2,000 is reported to have gathered outside the embassy walls in Cairo on Tuesday night, catching the local security services flat-flooted. Most of the diplomats and local staff had left early and a few dozen of the demonstrators were able to scale the wall, take down the stars and stripes and replace it with a black flag. The Egyptian police only managed to evict them from the compound by late evening.
By that time, however, the spark had jumped westwards to the Libyan city of Benghazi. According to al-Jazeera, an extremist militia called Ansar al-Sharia, one of many such armed groups staking out little fiefdoms in the aftermath of Muammar Gaddafi’s fall, heard about the storming of the Cairo embassy and the American film.
According to al-Jazeera’s correspondent in Benghazi, Suleiman Idrissi, “At about 11.30 pm a group of people calling themselves Islamic law [Sharia] supporters heard there would be an American movie insulting the prophet Muhammad. Once they heard this news they came out of their military garrison, and went into the streets calling on people to go ahead and attack the American consulate in Benghazi.”
Rocket-propelled grenades were reported to have been fired from a farm next door to the consulate, and film clips on al-Jazeera show men roaming through the ornate gardens amid vehicles, vegetation and buildings in flames. Ambassador Stevens, who was on a short visit to Benghazi, is reported to have died from smoke inhalation, along with an American computer expert at the consulate, Sean Smith, and two security guards.
Smith was an internet gaming enthusiast and was chatting online to another player at the time of the attack. According to the other player, who goes by the online handle of The_Mittani, Smith “said ‘F***’ and ‘GUNFIRE’ and then disconnected and never returned”.
By Wednesday, Sam Bacile was in hiding. He spoke to Associated Press from an undisclosed location, saying he had not expected such a furious reaction. He said: “I feel sorry for the embassy. I am mad.” But Bacile still insisted that the movie would help Israel by exposing what he described as Islam’s flaws to the world.
“My plan is to make a series of 200 hours,” he said.
On a final note, take a look at the statement issued by pastor Terry Jones (whose website seems to be down):
Statement in Response to Protests in Egypt and Libya, And Our Involvement in the Film, Innocence of Muslims
We have been contacted by the producer of the film, ‘Innocence of Muslims’, to help distribute it.
The film is not intended to insult the Muslim community, but it is intended to reveal truths about Muhammad that are possibly not widely known. The examination of his life, as we have done through International Judge Muhammad Day, through this type of close examination, it is very clear that God did not influence him in the writings of the Koran. The fruits of the religion speak for themselves. For example the recent outbreak of violence and deaths is not because of the film, it is not because of the activities that we have done and that we will continue to do. These types of violent activities must be totally rejected. These people must be held accountable. It again shows the true nature of Islam. Islam does not tolerate criticism of Muhammad, the Koran or Sharia. Because of their fear of criticism, knowing that if Islam and the Koran were closely examined, Muhammad and the Koran will be revealed for what it is, a lie and a deception.
Stand Up America Now
Regardless of your opinion about Koran-burning or cheesy low-budget movies that mock Mohammed: Rev. Jones is exactly correct.
I watched the whole trailer. Tacky as it was, everything depicted in it was based on authoritative Islamic scripture from the Koran and the Sunna. Mr. Bacile simply presented the world Islamic community with a ham-handed mirror of itself. The movie is a compendium of clumsily-depicted but uncomfortable truths about Islam.
No wonder that the world’s 1.7 octillion Muslims are frothing mad, ready to torch embassies and kill infidels!
Rev. Jones is to be commended for not apologizing. He lays the blame for what happened squarely where it belongs: the people who proclaim their vile political ideology as revealed truth.
Terry Jones is right. Yesterday’s events showed the true nature of Islam.