Return to Benghazi

Number 26501
Subject Terrorism
Source CNN
State
Year 2013
Publication Date July 19, 2013
Summary In Return to Benghazi, Arwa Damon takes viewers back to the scene of a deadly embassy attack by unknown assailants. Damon's landmark reporting in this program led the U.S. to name the first suspect believed to be involved in the attack. On the night of September 11, 2012, four Americans including Ambassador Christopher Stevens were killed. It was a violent, well-coordinated attack that shocked the world. No one took responsibility for the killings. Libyan and U.S. officials did not know who to blame. A political firestorm erupted in the U.S. amongst lawmakers demanding to know what U.S. officials knew about the leadup to the attack. CNN's Arwa Damon arrived in Benghazi just days after the attack to cover the story. She spoke to witnesses and visited the compound where the Ambassador lived. It was there where she found Ambassador Stevens' diary. The FBI and the Libyan government vowed to find those responsible and bring them to justice, but justice did not come swiftly. It would be weeks before FBI teams would inspect the crime scene. Months passed and still no suspects were identified. Several months after the attack, Arwa Damon goes back to Benghazi to get an update on the investigation. She finds a changed city where westerners have fled and citizens face unexplained violence. Militias increasingly rule the streets and security forces struggle to keep control. Even more omonous, are the alarming signs of support for Al Qaeda that have emerged in less than a year. Damon tracks down the headquarters of Ansar Al Sharia, a group many Libyans and U.S. officials suspected might be behind the attack, but the group isn't talking. She also speaks to a Libyan rebel intelligence chief who blames a factions of Al Quada for the attack. The government is reluctant to move against either of them. In a rare interview, Arwa Damon sits down with a man U.S. officials have often suggested they would be interested in speaking to about the night of the attack: Ahmed Abu Khattala. He admits to Damon that he was at the compound that night while the attack was taking place. He also tells her no one from the FBI had tried to contact him, but that he would be willing to meet with them if it was a conversation and not an interrogation. After the program aired, an outraged U.S. Representative Jason Chaffetz told reporters, "News out today that CNN was able to go in and talk to one of the suspected terrorists, how come the military hasn't been able to get after them and capture or kill the people? How come the FBI isn't doing this and yet CNN is?" U.S. federal authorities then filed charges against against Khattala, suspecting him for being involved in the attack. Arwa Damon's reporting in Return to Benghazi not only showcased the powerful investigative journalism that CNN is known for, but it also sparked movement in the stalled investigation of the September 11, 2012 embassy attack.
Category Contest Entry
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Keywords Benghazi; al-qaeda; 9/11
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