America’s Ambassador to Libya died in Benghazi on Tuesday during a riot that was fueled by a controversial film about the Islamic prophet Mohammed.
John Christopher Stevens, 52, reportedly died from smoke inhalation after attempting to flee an area of the U.S. embassy that had been shelled by rocket propelled grenades. The attacks were carried out by Libyan militiamen, who were protesting an obscure film called Innocence of Muslims, a clip of which had been dubbed in Arabic and partially uploaded to YouTube.
(The Wall Street Journal has more about the film here)
CNN reported that three other embassy employees were also killed in the attacks. One of them, Sean Smith, served as a Foreign Service Information Management Officer.
In a statement released early Wednesday morning, President Obama reacted to Stevens’ death. Here’s the president’s full statement:
“I strongly condemn the outrageous attack on our diplomatic facility in Benghazi, which took the lives of four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens. Right now, the American people have the families of those we lost in our thoughts and prayers. 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.
I have directed my Administration to provide all necessary resources to support the security of our personnel in Libya, and to increase security at our diplomatic posts around the globe. 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.
On a personal note, Chris 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. 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.
The brave Americans we lost represent the extraordinary service and sacrifices that our civilians make every day around the globe. As we stand united with their families, let us now redouble our own efforts to carry their work forward.”