On Sept. 11, a date which already haunts the American psyche, the realities of a rapidly changing Arab world were again driven home in the U.S. with the deadly assault on diplomatic offices in eastern Libya.
On the evening of Sept. 11, members of local militant groups, allegedly with some degree of linkage to al Qaeda, attacked the U.S. consulate in Benghazi and a CIA office about a mile away. U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans died in the attack.
Benghazi was the home of the Arab Spring uprising against dictator Muammar Qaddafi, and in the year after his capture and murder by rebel fighters, those local rebel groups became the de facto governing bodies of their neighborhoods and towns, including Benghazi. Many of these militias had motives more akin to those of al Qaeda than to any democratic uprising, but it remains unclear exactly who planned the attack on the consulate -- if it was a planned assault.
A political feud over the way the Obama administration and the State Department handled the release of information about the fatal attack -- which was first deemed to have likely started as a protest against an anti-Islam film made in the U.S. -- forced U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice to remove herself from consideration as the next Secretary of State.
Congressional investigations into how the attack happened, and how it could have been better handled, will continue well into 2013.