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WASHINGTON -- As he and his wife Anita left Texas for Libya, Ronnie Smith made a video for his Austin church. He talked about his need to spread a spiritual message. Smith worried about adapting to a foreign culture but said faith would guide him.
"If there's any single person in the entire universe that you can take a chance on, it's God," Smith said.Smith took a job teaching chemistry at the International School in Benghazi.
On Thursday morning, as he was jogging along a Benghazi street, Smith was shot and killed by gunmen riding in a black jeep. No one has claimed responsibility, but suspicions are focused on Islamic militants.
Since U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans were killed in Benghazi 15 months ago, westerners have been targets. In June, the U.S. State Department warned all U.S. citizens against traveling to Benghazi.
The October capture of al Qaeda operative Abu Anas al Libi in Tripoli only added to the worries.
In an Internet posting just days ago, al Qaeda propagandist Adam Gadahn urged militants in Libya to strike back, saying, "Rise up and take revenge from America."
Smith was certainly aware of potential dangers, but his message to his church said his religious convictions gave him strength.
"No matter what happens, I'm good," he said. "That gives me peace, and I'm OK with that."
It's unclear if Smith was specifically targeted in a planned attack or the victim of some other kind of crime, but U.S. authorities are now pressing police in Libya for a vigorous investigation.