Monday, May 21, 2018

Libyans tried to save U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens

CAIRO — Libyans tried to rescue U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens, cheering "God is great" and rushing him to a hospital after they discovered him still clinging to life inside the U.S. Consulate, according to witnesses and a new video that emerged Monday from last week's attack in the city of Benghazi.

The group of Libyans had stumbled across Stevens' seemingly lifeless form inside a dark room and didn't know who he was, only that he was a foreigner, the man who shot the video and two other witnesses told the Associated Press.

The account underlines the confusion that reigned during the assault by protesters and heavily armed gunmen that overwhelmed the consulate in Benghazi last Tuesday night, killing four Americans, including Stevens, who died from smoke inhalation soon after he was found. U.S. officials are still trying to piece together how the top American diplomat in Libya got separated from others as staffers were evacuated, suffocating in what is believed to be a consulate safe-room.

The Libyans who found him expressed frustration that there was no ambulance and no first aid on hand, leaving him to be slung over a man's shoulder to be carried to a car.

"There was not a single ambulance to carry him. Maybe he was handled the wrong way," said Fahd al-Bakoush, a freelance videographer who shot the footage. "They took him to a private car."

U.S. and Libyan officials are also trying to determine who was behind the attack. Still unclear was if it had been planned beforehand or was sparked by an anti-Islam film made in the United States that, hours before the Benghazi assault, had sparked protests at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo.

On Sunday, Libyan President Mohammed el-Megarif contended foreign militants had been planning the attack for months and timed it for Tuesday's Sept. 11 anniversary.

However, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice said it appeared spontaneous, that extremists with heavier weapons "hijacked" the protest and turned it into an attack. She noted Libya is awash with weapons.

A CIA memo sent to U.S. lawmakers this weekend, and obtained by the Associated Press, says current intelligence still suggests the demonstrations in Benghazi "were spontaneously inspired by the protests at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo" and "evolved into a direct assault" on the diplomatic posts by "extremists."

Soon after the attack, Libyan civilians roamed freely around the trashed consulate, its walls blacked and furniture burned. Among them were the videographer al-Bakoush, and a photographer and art student he often works with.

They heard a panicked shout, "I stepped over a dead man," and rushed to see what was going on, al-Bakoush said. The body had been found in a dark room with a locked door accessible only by a window. A group of men pulled him out and realized he was a foreigner and still alive.

He was breathing and his eyelids flickered, al-Bakoush said. "He was alive," he said. "No doubt. His face was blackened and he was like a paralyzed person."

Video taken by al-Bakoush and posted on YouTube shows Stevens being carried out of the room through a window with a raised shutter. "Bring him out, man," someone shouts. "Out of the way, out of the way!"

"Alive, Alive!" come other shouts, then a cheer of "God is great."

The next scene shows Stevens lying on a tile floor, with one man touching his neck to check his pulse. Al-Bakoush said that after that scene, they put Stevens in a private car to rush to the hospital.

The video has been authenticated since Stevens' face is clearly visible and he is wearing the same white T-shirt seen in authenticated photos of him being carried away on another man's shoulders, presumably moments later. The photographer and student who were with al-Bakoush at the scene gave the same account as he did.

"We were happy to see him alive,'' said Ahmed Shams, the 22-year-old arts student. "The youths tried to rescue him. But there was no security, no ambulances, nothing to help."

Comments
Why the Buccaneers’ 2018 schedule isn’t as bad as it seems

Why the Buccaneers’ 2018 schedule isn’t as bad as it seems

Saints, Eagles, Steelers.Three games against three playoff teams to open the NFL season.Who in the league scheduling office did the Buccaneers tick off?What an injustice!Or not.Maybe the league did the Bucs a favor.Would you rather face the Saints, E...
Updated: 8 minutes ago
Forecast: More tropical moisture brings river flooding, drenching rains to Tampa Bay

Forecast: More tropical moisture brings river flooding, drenching rains to Tampa Bay

More tropical showers and thunderstorms could be headed to Tampa Bay as a low pressure system that is developing in Western Caribbean waters is expected to track up through the Gulf of Mexico, promising more rain for an already soggy region. Much lik...
Updated: 13 minutes ago
Longtime Pinellas County Commissioner John Morroni loses cancer fight at 63

Longtime Pinellas County Commissioner John Morroni loses cancer fight at 63

Eighteen-year Pinellas County commissioner John Morroni died Sunday night while fighting his third battle against cancer.Morroni, 63, announced in April that he was again undergoing treatment at Moffitt Cancer Center for a blood disorder kn...
Updated: 14 minutes ago
John Morroni, longtime Pinellas County commissioner, dies at 63

John Morroni, longtime Pinellas County commissioner, dies at 63

Eighteen-year Pinellas County commissioner John Morroni died Sunday night while fighting his third battle against cancer.Morroni, 63, announced in April that he was again undergoing treatment at Moffitt Cancer Center for a blood disord...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Funeral for Polish WWII hero held in Warsaw

Funeral with military honors for a World War II hero and Warsaw Rising fighter has been held in the Polish capital
Updated: 1 hour ago
Lightning watch party tonight for Game 6

Lightning watch party tonight for Game 6

Tampa Bay Lightning fans can gather to witness the team's possible clinching of a Stanley Cup final berth tonight in downtown Tampa.The watch party for Game 6 in Washington starts at 6 p.m. at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park.It will include three screen...
Updated: 1 hour ago
China says it can't guarantee no more trade tension with US

China says it can't guarantee no more trade tension with US

China's government says it cannot guarantee renewed trade tension with Washington can be avoided after U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin declared a temporary truce in a dispute companies worried might chill global commerce
Updated: 1 hour ago
Jupiter's backward-flying asteroid from another star system

Jupiter's backward-flying asteroid from another star system

An asteroid orbiting backward out near Jupiter actually hails from another star system
Updated: 1 hour ago
Officer who shot school gunman gets ovation at graduation

Officer who shot school gunman gets ovation at graduation

A school resource officer who was hailed a hero for shooting and arresting a gunman at a northern Illinois high school received a standing ovation as he led students into their graduation ceremony
Updated: 1 hour ago
Softball: Scouting the Admiral Farragut vs. John Carroll semifinal

Softball: Scouting the Admiral Farragut vs. John Carroll semifinal

Admiral Farragut (17-5) vs. John Carroll Catholic (11-11)When/where: 4:50 p.m. Monday at Historic Dodgertown, Vero BeachHow they got hereAdmiral Farragut defeated Naples St. John Neumann 17-0; defeated Bradenton St. Stephen's 3-1John Carrol...
Updated: 1 hour ago