The U.S. ambassador to Libya, J. Christopher Stevens, was killed on Sept. 11 after protesters swarmed the U.S. consulate in the town of Benghazi. He was rushed to the hospital but later died of severe asphyxiation, presumably due to smoke inhalation. Stevens, a career diplomat who was appointed to the ambassadorial position by the Senate in June, was helping to evacuate staff from the building when the attack broke out. Gunmen led the charge, riddling the compound with machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades, leaving only a burned-out shell of a building. Stevens is the first U.S. ambassador to be killed in the line of duty since 1979.
While details now indicate that the attack was a pre-planned assault by an Al Qaeda faction, the Libyan protesters were reportedly angered over the release of an anti-Islamic film titled “Innocence of Muslims,” backed by a U.S. real-estate developer and promoted by controversial Florida pastor Terry Jones.