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2012 Benghazi Attack

Inside the compound

11 Sep, 2012

The barracks at the entrance housing the local militiamen is burnt down.

Agents viewing cameras see a large group of armed men flowing into the compound. The agent in the TOC immediately hits an alarm and gets on the public address system, yelling, “Attack, attack.” The other agents had heard the noise and were already reacting. Telephone calls are made to the embassy in Tripoli, officials in Washington, the Libyan authorities and a U.S. quick reaction force located at the second compound.

One agent, armed with a sidearm and an M4 submachine gun, takes Stevens and Smith to the safe haven inside Building C. It has a heavy metal grill and several locks, medical supplies and water, and windows that can be opened only from the inside. The other agents equip themselves with long guns, body armor, helmets and ammunition at other buildings. Two try to make it to the building with Stevens. They are met by armed men and are forced to retreat. The agent in Building C with Stevens has radioed that they are all in the safe haven and are fine. There is an agent in Building C with Stevens and Smith, there are two agents in Building B, and there are two agents in the TOC.

Attackers penetrate Stevens’ building and try to break the grill locks for the safe haven but cannot gain access. The agent is, in fact, watching them from the darkness with his long gun trained on them and he is ready to shoot if they come any further, but they do not go any further.

They dump jerry cans of diesel fuel in the building, light “puffy” furniture furniture on fire and set aflame part of the exterior of the building. At the same time, other attackers that have penetrated Building B. The two agents in Building B are barricaded in an inner room. The attackers circulate in Building B but do not get to the agents and eventually leave.

A third group of attackers tries to break into the TOC. They pound away at the door, they throw themselves at the door, they kick the door but are unable to get in, and they withdraw.

Meanwhile, Stevens’ building rapidly fills up with thick diesel smoke and burning fumes from the furniture. Inside, visibility is less than three feet. Unable to breathe, the Americans go to a bathroom and open a window but still can’t get enough air. They have to get on the floor of the bathroom because the smoke is very dense and there is little breathable air. At this point there are dozens of armed mean in the compound, there is a lot of gunfire and explosions from rocket-propelled grenades.

They decide to leave the building. The agent goes first, flopping out onto a patio enclosed by sandbags. He takes immediate fire, including probably rocket-propelled grenades. Stevens and Smith don’t come out of the building. The agent, suffering severely from smoke inhalation, goes in and out of the building several times to look for them. He then climbs a ladder to the roof of the building and collapses. He radios the other agents to alert them to the situation there but they can barely understand him.

The agent in the TOC, who is in full gear, opens the door, throws a smoke grenade, which lands between the two buildings, to obscure what he is doing, and he moves to Building B, enters Building B. He un-barricades the two agents that are in there, and the three of them emerge and head for Building C. There are, however, plenty of intruders and plenty of firing still on the compound, and they decide that the safest way for them to move is to go into an armored vehicle, which is parked right there. They get into the armored vehicle and they drive to Building C.

They reach the collapsed agent and try to set up a perimeter. They take turns going into the building, searching on hands and knees for the missing Americans. Smith is pulled out, dead. Stevens cannot be found.