The United States government revealed in September that two Navy SEALs were killed in an attack on the US Consulate in Libya. The SEALs were identified as Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty. The attack also resulted in the deaths of Sean Smith, an information management officer for the State Department, and Chris Stevens, the US Ambassador to Libya.
Leading Up to the Attack
Attacks against the US consulate reportedly began when a group of Muslims became enraged over a derogatory portrayal of their prophet, Muhammad, in a video posted on the Internet.
While Islamists around the world have spoken out against the video, a small number of extremists decided to take violent action against the US government, which they somehow perceived as an instigator even though the video was created and posted by a party that had no connection to any government agency.
Navy SEALs Killed During the Attack in Libya
While the Navy has not said why Woods and Doherty were stationed at the US consulate in Libya, the two SEALs performed their duties by attempting to protect those in the building. During the struggle, both highly trained SEALs sustained fatal injuries in the line of duty.
Doherty was interviewed by ABC News in August. During that interview, he claimed to be working on an intelligence mission related to surface-to-air missiles that combatants could fire from shoulder-mounted weapons. Doherty and Woods had both served extensively in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Friends of the slain SEALs say that neither would want pity nor regret for their actions. Dedicated members of an elite fighting squad, they died defending the ideals of their country. Reportedly, the two SEALs would be proud to die in such a manner.
IT took US officials several days to release information concerning the deaths of Woods and Doherty, although they did acknowledge that unnamed victims were killed in the attack. This delay occurred because government officials needed to contact the SEALs' families before releasing the information publicly.
After the Attack in Libya
Violence continues to spread in the Middle East after the attack in Libya. Hezbollah leaders in Beirut have encouraged Muslims to continue demonstrations against the West. Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, a leader who has been vocal against the film, says that Muslims should make sure the rest of the world understands their anger over such a deep offense.
Many experts have taken this as a command for Muslims to continue using violence to express their anger.
In response the US State Department has urged citizens to avoid travel to Lebanon and other parts of the Middle East where extremists have a history of using violence.
Finding Those Responsible for the Attack in Libya
While some politicians in the United States hastily advocated military strikes against Libya, the Libyan government has been instrumental in tracking down those responsible for the deaths. Less than a week after the attack occurred, Mohammed Magarief announced that 50 people had been arrested in connection with the event.
According to the Libyan leader, the attack came from outside Libya. He says it was planned by al Qaeda members organized in foreign countries. He admits, however, that some of the arrested men are citizens of Libya.
Magarief also says that the militant group used the offensive video as an excuse to attach the US ambassador. Intelligence has shown that al Qaeda had been planning the attack for some time, indicating that it was not a spontaneous outpouring of anger.
Susan Rice, the US ambassador to the United Nations, however, has said that there is not any evidence indicating that the attack was premeditated in any way. She believes that the attacks were not planned, but rather occurred spontaneously as have other violent events in the Middle East and Europe, such as attacks blamed on offensive drawings of the Prophet Mohammad and Salman Rushdie's book "The Satanic Verses".
Ongoing Operations in the Middle East
While the US and Libyan governments continue to gather information about the attack, one thing is certain: the Navy SEALs lost two extremely brave men who put their lives in peril to protect the United States and victims of the violence.
The Navy SEALs have played a key role in reforming the governments and militaries of Iraq, Afghanistan, and other Middle Eastern countries. Clearly there is still plenty of work to be done before peace is found in that area of the world. With devoted warriors like Doherty and Woods, though, the Navy Seals can continue to have a positive impact.