Washington, DC – The attack in Benghazi, Libya, that resulted in the deaths of four Americans should “shock the conscience of people of all faiths around the world,” Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said here today.
US Ambassador to Libya J. Christopher Stevens and Sean Smith, a Foreign Service information officer and Air Force veteran, were killed in the attack. The State Department is withholding the identities of the other Americans, pending next-of-kin notification.
“All over the world every day, America’s diplomats and development experts risk their lives in the service of our country and our values because they believe that the United States must be a force for peace and progress in the world,” Clinton said. “Alongside our men and women in uniform, they represent the best traditions of a bold and generous nation.”
Stevens risked his life to stop former Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi and then gave his life trying to help in building a better Libya, Clinton said. “The world needs more Chris Stevenses,” she added.
Although this happened in a country the United States helped to liberate and in a city it helped to save from destruction, Clinton said Americans must remain “clear-eyed, even in our grief.”
“This was an attack by a small and savage group, not the people or government of Libya,” she added. Libyans stood and fought to protect Americans during the attack, and Libyans carried Stevens’ body to the hospital, Clinton noted. The United States will not waver in its mission in Libya, the secretary pledged.
“The mission that drew Chris and Sean and their colleagues to Libya is both noble and necessary,” she said. “A free and stable Libya is still in America’s interest and security, and we will not turn our back on that.”
Clinton said the United States is working closely with Libyan authorities to bring those responsible for the attacks to justice.
“Some have sought to justify this vicious behavior, along with the protests that took place at our embassy in Cairo yesterday, as a response to inflammatory material posted on the Internet,” Clinton said, referring to a video that is purported to blaspheme Islam.
“Let me be clear, there is no justification for this,” she said. “Violence like this is no way to honor religion or faith. And as long as there are those who would take innocent life in the name of God, the world will never know a true and lasting peace.”
Clinton noted that the attack took place as Americans observed the anniversary of the 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States.
“It’s an anniversary that means a great deal to all Americans,” she said. “Every year on that day, we are reminded that our work is not yet finished — that the job of putting an end to violent extremism and building a safe and stable world continues.”