Skip to main content

Video purportedly shows Libyans rushing to aid U.S. ambassador

From Arwa Damon, CNN
updated 11:54 AM EDT, Tue September 18, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and 3 others were killed last Tuesday in Libya
  • A video shows a wounded "foreigner" dragged from a window that night
  • The man who shot the video says it's Stevens; a U.S. official says they're not sure
  • The Libyans rejoice when they discover the man is alive and try to get him help

Editor's note: Read a version of this story in Arabic

Benghazi, Libya (CNN) -- The chaos is palpable, as a throng of Libyans frantically scramble outside a damaged building. Suddenly, a man's body is carried from inside toward an open window -- and the frenzy and sounds become even more urgent, more emotional.

"Get him out!" some yell.

After joyfully discovering the man -- a foreigner, apparently, a voice in the crowd says -- is alive after he's dragged out, fresh screams ring out.

"Allahu Akbar," which translates from Arabic to "God is great," men in the crowd shout. Others raise fists to the sky, seemingly rejoicing that this man has somehow survived.

According to the man who shot the video, the wounded man shown is Chris Stevens, the late U.S. ambassador to Libya. If true, the grainy images show some of his last moments alive: Stevens was one of four Americans killed last Tuesday in an attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

More details emerge of ambassador's last moments

Attackers set the U.S. Consulate compound in Benghazi, Libya, on fire on September 11, 2012. The U.S. ambassador and three other U.S. nationals were killed during the attack. The Obama administration initially blamed a mob inflamed by a U.S.-produced movie that mocked Islam and its Prophet Mohammed, but later said the storming of the consulate appears to have been a terrorist attack. View photos of protesters storming the U.S. Embassy buildings in 2012. Attackers set the U.S. Consulate compound in Benghazi, Libya, on fire on September 11, 2012. The U.S. ambassador and three other U.S. nationals were killed during the attack. The Obama administration initially blamed a mob inflamed by a U.S.-produced movie that mocked Islam and its Prophet Mohammed, but later said the storming of the consulate appears to have been a terrorist attack. View photos of protesters storming the U.S. Embassy buildings in 2012.
Attack on the U.S. Consulate in Libya
HIDE CAPTION
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
>
>>
Photos: Attack on U.S. Consulate in Libya Photos: Attack on U.S. Consulate in Libya
Baer: U.S. consulate 'underprotected'
Libya attacks: U.S. warned of threats

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland acknowledged the video Monday, even as she stressed it's not clear "whether or not it's authentic, whether or not it is an accurate representation of what happened, whether or not it's Ambassador Stevens."

"This video ... is going to be part and parcel of this investigation," Nuland told reporters. "But I'm not in a position to confirm what, who, where and whether it has any value."

That investigation will try to explain who is responsible, and what happened, the night of September 11 outside the U.S. consulate.

A strident crowd had gathered there, ostensibly to rail against the United States -- like Egyptian protesters were also doing about 780 miles (1250 kilometers) east in Cairo -- over the 14-minute trailer of an obscure, amateurishly and privately produced film mocking the Muslim prophet Mohammed.

Some of those in Benghazi eventually attacked the consulate, with Libyan and U.S. officials offering differing assessments on whether this assault was spontaneous or premeditated.

What is obvious is that, once they were done, the consulate was charred and heavily damaged, its walls blackened with smoke and its contents largely unrecognizable.

The man who shot the aforementioned video, Fahed al-Bakush, told CNN he'd arrived shortly before midnight to find the consulate cafeteria building up in flames.

More arrests in consulate attack

The smoke was so thick, he said, that you could barely see the consulate's main building.

Yet the video shows lots of activity, especially near an open window. People clambered in and out of it, aided by small flashlights and each other.

Eventually, the wounded man was carried out. Afterward, he's pictured on the ground in what appears to be a shirt and dark pants.

"He had a pulse and his eyes were moving," al-Bakush said of the man he said is Stevens. "His mouth was black from all the smoke."

With the man now outside, some yelled out," Carry him," and others said, "We need to take him ... to the hospital." A later photo, also seen online, showed the wounded man being put on another man's shoulder and whisked away.

By the time he arrived at a Benghazi hospital, it was too late.

"The body was covered with soot," said Dr. Ziad Abu, who treated Stevens that night. "I began resuscitation but after 45 minutes, the patient ... showed no signs of life."

Many questions remain about the attack that led to Stevens' death.

But if this video indeed shows the ambassador being taken from the consulate, as people thank God that he was breathing and tried to rush him to get medical help, it indicates that not everyone in Benghazi was bent on violence that night.

In fact, it appears that some men -- as evidenced by their words and actions -- were helping him, and very much wanted him to live.

Al Qaeda calls death of U.S. ambassador a 'gift'

CNN's Jomana Karadesh, Greg Botelho, Saad Abedine, Salma Abdelaziz and Tracy Doueiry contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 7:36 PM EST, Tue March 5, 2013
Shortly after the attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi last September, a phone call was placed from the area.
updated 9:07 PM EST, Thu February 7, 2013
A testy exchange erupted between Sen. John McCain and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey during the latter's testimony about September's deadly attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya.
updated 9:16 AM EST, Thu January 24, 2013
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton took on Republican congressional critics of her department's handling of the deadly September terrorist attack in Libya.
updated 8:22 PM EST, Wed January 23, 2013
The Pentagon released an hour-by-hour timeline of the September 11 assault on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
updated 11:13 AM EST, Tue January 29, 2013
Bilal Bettamer wants to save Benghazi from those he calls "extremely dangerous people." But his campaign against the criminal and extremist groups that plague the city has put his life at risk.
updated 8:16 AM EDT, Sun September 23, 2012
Two former Navy SEALs who died last week in an attack on a U.S. consulate in Libya died after rushing to help their colleagues.
updated 10:24 PM EDT, Tue September 18, 2012
The former Pakistani Ambassador to the UK, Akbar Ahmed, explains why an anti-Islam film has triggered massive protests.
updated 11:01 AM EDT, Fri September 14, 2012
The fall of dictatorships does not guarantee the creation of free societies, says Ed Husain, author of "The Islamist."
updated 11:32 AM EDT, Tue September 25, 2012
Protests have swept the world following the online release of a film that depicts the Prophet Mohammed as a womanizer, child molester and killer.
updated 6:56 PM EDT, Wed September 19, 2012
A satirical magazine pours further oil on the fiery debate between freedom of expression and offensive provocation.
Was the attack on the Libyan U.S. Consulate the result of a mob gone awry, a planned terror attack or a combination of the two?
The images of the American embassy burning in Benghazi might have conjured up memories of Tehran in 1979 but the analogy is false.
updated 10:57 AM EDT, Mon September 17, 2012
Libyan authorities have made more arrests in connection with the attack on the U.S. consulate that left four Americans dead.
updated 7:59 PM EDT, Mon September 17, 2012
Three days before the deadly attack in Benghazi, a local security official says he warned U.S. diplomats about deteriorating security.
For the latest news on developments in the Middle East and North Africa in Arabic.
ADVERTISEMENT