American intelligence officials insist that the attack on the Benghazi consulate was not pre-planned, but a new CNN report says that Ambassador Chris Stevens had expressed concerns about the safety of the mission in the months before his death. According to "a source familiar with his thinking," Stevens was worried about the growing threat of al-Qaeda and other extremists in Libya and even mentioned that he was on a terrorist "hit list."
The Benghazi consulate had been hit by a fire bomb in June, though no one was hurt. Despite the threats and the earlier attack, American officials still say that the attack that killed Stevens and three other Americans last week, was not an assault planned to coincide with the September 11 anniversary, but was rather an "opportunistic attack" that came about in the chaotic moments of protests against the anti-Muslim YouTube video. In either event, several members of Congress are asking why security at the compound was not stronger, given the growing threats from armed militants.
Libyans and American representatives will hold a memorial service for the murdered Americans in Tripoli on Thursday. The prime minister of Libya, Mustafa A.G. Abushagur, praised Stevens in a Washington Post op-ed yesterday, calling him "a dear friend of mine" who "played a key role in helping to liberate Libya from the oppressive regime of Moammar Gaddafi."