The U.S. government still does not know whether or not the deadly attack on the consulate in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11 was simply the escalation of an unplanned protest against an offensive video on the Prophet Muhammad or a pre-planned terrorist attack. Speculation heightened on Wednesday when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton suggested a connection to al Qaeda affiliates in the region.
Four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens, were killed in the incident, which had led to Republican charges that the Obama administration is hiding information about what happened that day.
The killings also sparked concerns about the safety of U.S. diplomatic missions overseas.
President Barack Obama has said the type of weapons used in the attack leave no doubt that the incident was more than “a mob action.” However, he has refused to call it an act of terrorism because there’s an ongoing investigation.
Though she didn’t provide any new evidence of the connection between al-Qaida affiliates in North Africa and the attacks, Clinton, according to the New York Times, told leaders at a special United Nations meeting that terrorists are joining forces to stall the democratic process in that area.
“Now with a larger safe haven and increased freedom to maneuver, terrorists are seeking to extend their reach and their networks in multiple directions,” Clinton said. “And they are working with other violent extremists to undermine the democratic transitions under way in North Africa, as we tragically saw in Benghazi.”
“For some time, al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and other groups have launched attacks and kidnappings from northern Mali into neighboring countries,” she said.