What’s Happening In Libya: A Guide To The Best Coverage
Originally posted at ProPublica
Here’s the best reporting we’ve found not only on yesterday’s killings but also on post-war Libya. What are we missing? Please leave your favorite stories in comments.
THE ATTACK: ITS ORIGINS AND VICTIMS
U.S. Suspects Libya Attack Was Planned, New York Times The connection between an anti-Islam film that reportedly sparked this week’s protests in the Mideast and the attack that killed the American ambassador is unclear. Unnamed U.S. officials have told the New York Times and CNN that militants behind the attack may have instigated a protest against the film as a diversion or taken advantage of it as an opportunity.
Stevens ‘was thrilled to watch the Libyan people stand up’, YouTube In a U.S. embassy video uploaded to YouTube in May, Ambassador Stevens introduced himself to the Libyan people. He described his childhood in California and how he fell in love with North Africa as a Peace Corps volunteer, and compared the challenges facing Libya to the American Civil War.
Stevens: ‘The whole atmosphere has changed for the better’, International Herald Tribune The International Herald Tribune published a tribute to Stevens from foreign correspondent Harvey Morris, which included passages from a “catch-up email” Stevens had written to family and friends in July.
The victims: Sean Smith messaged fellow gamers in hours before attack, Wired Sean Smith, a foreign service officer stationed in Libya who was also killed, was an avid gamer whose death was first reported by his online friends. Yesterday, he wrote a message to an online gaming friend saying he hoped “we don’t die tonight.” He added, “We saw one of our ‘police’ that guard the compound taking pictures.”
Violence at demonstrations in Benghazi is not unprecedented, BBC In 2006, during the height of the protests against the publication of cartoons depicting Mohammed in a Danish newspaper, at least 10 people were killed in Benghazi during a large demonstration. The BBC reported at the time that the Italian consulate in Benghazi had been set on aflame and police had fired on demonstrators. Protesters were reportedly angry because an Italian minister had worn a t-shirt featuring the cartoons.
The provenance of the movie connected to this week’s protests is murky.
A trailer for The Innocence of Muslims was posted on YouTube in July on an account bearing the name “sam bacile.” Sarah Posner of Religion Dispatches first raised questions about information “Bacile” — identified as a California real estate developer — gave to the AP and the Wall Street Journal in recent phone interviews. Christian activist Steve Klein, who has been described in the media as a consultant on the film, told the Atlantic that “Sam Bacile” was a pseudonym and he did not know the person’s true identity. The AP reported that “Bacile” is an Israeli Jew living in California and that he had raised $5 million for the film from 100 Jewish donors. But Klein told the Atlantic that “Bacile” is not Israeli.
LIBYA IN TRANSITION
With Qaddafi gone, Libya is ‘boiling over’, New York Review of Books In June, Nicolas Pelham offered an overview of the state of Libya with a focus on outbreaks of tribal violence in the south of the country. The piece also profiles Benghazi, reporting that militias “rule in and around” the city amid a collapse of central authority.
Libya Captors Become the Captives, New York Times Magazine In May, the magazine profiled former prisoners of the Qaddafi regime who are now in positions of power in Libya. Reporter Robert Worth summed up the state of the government: “Libya has no army. It has no government. These things exist on paper, but in practice, Libya has yet to recover from the long maelstrom of Qaddafi’s rule.”
State Dept. Warned Americans Away from Libya, Foreign Policy Just last month, the State Department issued a travel warning against U.S. citizens visiting Libya. “The incidence of violent crime, especially carjacking and robbery, has become a serious problem,” the statement read. “In addition, political violence in the form of assassinations and vehicle bombs has increased in both Benghazi and Tripoli.”