A Libyan policeman was caught photographing the inside of the US Consulate in Benghazi on the morning of September 11, hours before US Ambassador Chris Stevens was killed in a terror attack there, and worried US consular staff complained to the Libyan Foreign Ministry over the security breach, an Arabic TV station reported on Thursday, quoting from letters found at the consulate after it was attacked.
Alaan TV, a channel based in the United Arab Emirates, said the letters also showed that the Americans had been urging the Libyan authorities to provide special security arrangements for Stevens’ visit — including a 24-hour police guard at the front and rear gates of the consulate, a mobile patrol and a bomb-sniffing dog — but these requests were not granted. The consulate was left for many hours “with no police support at all,” one letter complained.
In excerpts of the TV broadcast recorded and translated by MEMRI (the Middle East Media Research Institute), Alaan TV said it was basing its report on documents written by US consulate staff on September 11 and found “in the Tactical Operations Center building” of the consulate.
The report referred to two letters — one addressed to the Libyan Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the other, almost identical in content, addressed to the Benghazi police chief.
“In the letters, the Americans complained about an incident that occurred on the morning of September 11, an incident they described as ‘troubling’,” the report said.
It quoted from one of the letters, as follows: “‘Early this morning, on September 11, 2011 [sic], at precisely 06:43, one of our diligent guards made a troubling report. Near our main gate, a member of the police force was seen [in] the upper level of a building across from our compound. It is reported that this person, who belongs to the police unit sent to protect the U.S. Special Mission, was photographing the inside of the U.S. consulate.”
The letter said a Libyan police car was seen at the scene, and specified: “The police car stationed where this event occurred was number 322.”
The TV report said it seemed clear “from the tone of the letter that the Americans were extremely concerned about this incident, describing it as ‘troubling’… They were hoping that the Libyan authorities would conduct an official investigation into this incident.”
The report said the letters revealed that, since September 9, “the Americans had been requesting special security arrangements in preparation for the arrival of Ambassador Chris Stevens to Benghazi. These arrangements included the police guarding the front and rear gates of the consulate around the clock, in addition to a mobile patrol and a bomb-sniffing dog.
“The Americans, however, were not granted these requests, as was made clear from the letter, dated September 11, just hours before the attack.” The TV report quoted from this letter as follows, “We are saddened to report that we have only received an occasional police presence at our main gate. Many hours pass when we have no police support at all.”
The TV report ended by stating, “This is how the attack on the U.S. consulate began, 15 hours after the policeman was seen photographing the building.”
Alaan TV, which operates from Dubai, began broadcasting in August 2006, MEMRI said, adding: “It states that its aim is the cultural enrichment of Arab women, and it has often focused on Al-Qaeda and other terror organization from a critical point of view, inter alia interviewing family members of jihadi leaders.”