Secretary of State Hillary Clinton debunked Thursday rumors that U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens was on an al Qaeda hit list before he was killed in Benghazi last week.
Clinton said there was “no information” that Stevens was a specific target of the terrorist network, according to ABC News. Clinton said she had “no reason to believe that there’s any basis for that” in reference to a CNN report published earlier this week that cited an source claiming Stevens was on a hit list.
On Wednesday Matt Olsen, head of the National Counter-Terrorism Center, told the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee that Stevens and the three other Americans who lost their lives “were killed in the course of a terrorist attack,” according to Yahoo News.
"What we don't have at this point is specific intelligence that there was a significant advanced planning or coordination for this attack," Olsen said.
"It is, I think, self-evident that what happened in Benghazi was a terrorist attack," White House spokesman Jay Carney said to CNN.
American officials believe a pro-al Qaeda organization had been waiting for an opportunity to attack and used the “Innocence of Muslims” protest as their chance to kill Westerners. Libyan Prime Minister Mustafa Abushagur told CNN that the attackers his government had detained were “far extreme” members of Ansar al-Sharia, a radical terrorist group.
The Washington Post speculated that the attackers had been planning an attack but not for a specific date. Stevens was known to travel with a security detail, and Sept. 11 may have just been the first time they could strike, an odd coincidence. Stevens died of smoke inhalation after the building he was in came under fire.
A CNN Security report detailed some of the discontent among U.S. officials after the strike. Undersecretary of State Patrick Kennedy assumed the attack had been planned because of the extent of damage to the Benghazi consulate and the “proliferation” of weapons in the area.