Incident Summary:

09/11/2012: Armed assailants breached the main gate of the United States (US) consulate and set fire to various buildings on the grounds in Benghazi city, Benghazi district, Libya. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and Sean Smith suffocated to death from smoke while hiding in a safe house. This was one of two attacks in Benghazi on the night of September 11 and morning of September 12, 2012. Ansar al-Sharia claimed responsibility for the incident; however, their claim was disregarded as invalid. Authorities also suspected the complicity of Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).




Middle East & North Africa

region/u.s. state:



Attack Information
Type of Attack (more) Armed Assault
Successful Attack? (more) Yes
Target Information (more)
Target Type: Government (Diplomatic)
Name of Entity United States Department of State
Specific Description Consulate
Nationality of Target United States
Additional Information
Hostages No
Ransom No
Property Damage Yes
Extent of Property Damage Minor (likely < $1 million)
Value of Property Damage Unknown
Weapon Information
Type Sub-type
Explosives Grenade
Explosives Projectile (rockets, mortars, RPGs, etc.)
Firearms Automatic Weapon
Weapon Details
Rocket-propelled grenades, mortars, AK-47 assault rifles, diesel canisters, and vehicles mounted with artillery guns were used in the attack.
Additional Information
Suicide Attack?No
Part of Multiple Incident?Yes
Criterion 1 (more) Yes
Criterion 2 (more) Yes
Criterion 3 (more) Yes
Doubt Terrorism Proper (more) No
Perpetrator Group Information
Group Name Group Sub-name Claimed Responsibility
Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) No
Ansar al-Sharia (Libya) Ansar al-Sharia in Benghazi Yes (Confirmed: Unknown; Mode: Posted to website, blog, etc.)
Perpetrator Statistics
Number of Perpetrators Unknown
Number of Captured Perpetrators 0
Casualty Information
Total Number of Casualties 2 Fatalities / 0 Injured
Total Number of Fatalities 2
Number of U.S. Fatalities 2
Number of Perpetrator Fatalities 0
Total Number of Injured 0
Number of U.S. Injured 0
Number of Perpetrators Injured 0
"Pentagon releases official timeline of Benghazi attack," CNN Wire, November 10, 2012.
"Libya violence had 2 phases, official says; Deputy interior minister describes coordinated attack after envoy's death," International Herald Tribune, September 15, 2012.
"Libyan attacks said to be 2-part militant assault," Associated Press Online, September 13, 2012.