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Timeline: The shocking events that led to the Benghazi attacks


This timeline was compiled by TheBlaze and For The Record as part of their investigation into how the U.S. government failed its diplomatic team in Benghazi and allowed Al Qaeda to benefit from the lethal aid provided to rebel forces on the ground in Libya.

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This timeline was compiled by TheBlaze and For the Record as part of their investigation into the U.S. government's actions regarding the diplomatic team in Benghazi -- and how Al Qaeda-affiliated militants benefited from the lethal aid provided to rebel forces on the ground in Libya.


November: Federal prosecutors convict five leaders of the Muslim charity Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development in the largest terrorism-financing case since 9/11. No follow-up on other unindicted co-conspirators. More here and here


June 4: President Barack Obama addresses the Muslim community in Egypt: “America is not – and never will be – at war with Islam. We will, however, relentlessly confront violent extremists who pose a grave threat to our security. Because we reject the same thing that people of all faiths reject: the killing of innocent men, women and children.” More


Sept. 30: Muhammad Badi, newly elected supreme guide of the Muslim Brotherhood, calls for jihad against the United States. More here and here

December: In an act of protest over unemployment, a Tunisian fruit seller lights his body on fire, sparking a national revolution for political reform. More


January: Tunisian Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi announces plans for an interim national unity government after protesters force Tunisian President Ben Ali into exile. More

Jan. 17:   Anti-government resistance spreads to Egypt when a local restaurateur sets his body on fire outside of Cairo’s parliament building over a fight with local authorities regarding food subsidies. More

Jan. 25: Protests break out in Cairo against government repression under Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak

Jan. 29: Mubarak announces plans to dissolve the Egyptian government and appoint new officials. U.N. Human Rights Council says Egyptian government needs to engage with Egyptian people.

Jan. 30: Egypt’s military takes control over parts of Cairo. More


Feb. 2-5:  Egyptian protests intensify and turn violent.

Feb. 11: Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak resigns. President Obama responds to Mubarak’s resignation: “Nothing less than genuine democracy will carry the day," and promises assistance to America's longtime Middle Eastern ally. More

Feb. 15: Libyan opposition calls for protests against dictator Moammar Gadhafi and for demonstrations in Benghazi. More

Feb. 17: Libya’s Day of Rage. Libyan opposition against Gadhafi calls for Day of Rage to mark the the anniversary of the Feb. 17 2006 protests in Benghazi that turned deadly. More

Feb. 26:  The U.N. unanimously votes to sanction Gadhafi and Obama announces that he believes Gadhafi has lost the right to rule. Obama tells German Chancellor Angela Merkel:  “When a leader's only means of staying in power is to use mass violence against his own people, he has lost the legitimacy to rule and needs to do what is right for his country by leaving now.” More here and here

Feb. 27: Tunisian Prime Minister Ghannouchi resigns. More

MARCH 2011

March 3: President Obama directs the State Department and Department of Defense to explore action to influence the Libyan opposition and requests Gadhafi's resignation: "Let me just be very unambiguous about this. Col. Gaddafi needs to step down from power and leave.” More

March 10: French President Nicolas Sarkozy meets with Libyan opposition leader Mahmoud Jibril. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton testifies before the House, endorsing U.S. support for the Libyan opposition.

March 14: U.S. diplomat Christopher Stevens, then the No. 2 American official at the embassy in Tripoli, is appointed liaison to the Libyan opposition. More

Hillary Clinton meets with G-8 ministers in Paris to evaluate and determine potential involvement in Libya. More

Hillary Clinton meets with Libyan rebel opposition leader Mahmoud Jibril. More

March 16: French President Sarkozy pushes the U.N. to impose a no-fly zone over Libya.

March 17:  U.N. Security Council demands a ceasefire in Libya, adopting UNSCR 1973 to implement a no-fly zone over the country’s airspace and a NATO arms embargo. UNSCR1973 for “no fly zone” passed 10-0 with five Brazil, China, Germany, India and Russia abstaining. More

March 19: France strikes Libya and bombing campaign begins. Gadhafi's forces make it to the edge of Benghazi, the rebel capital. More

March 20: U.S. and European nations launch airstrikes. More

March 23: NATO assumes control over Libyan operations by implementing arms embargo. More

March 25:  AFRICOM Commander Gen. Carter Ham does a series of interviews with U.S. media outlets including NBC and CNN. He states that the U.S. is not targeting Gadhafi and is not arming the rebels. More

March 27: Gen. Ham’s power is transferred to NATO Commander James Stavridis, per UNSCR 1973.

March 29: Stavridis testifies before the Senate Armed Services Committee. He says there are “flickers” of Al Qaeda and Hezbollah in the Libyan opposition forces. More

In an interview with ABC's Diane Sawyer, Obama discusses the next steps for U.S. involvement in Libya and indicates that a number of options are being considered, including arming the rebels. More

March 30: Reports circulate that Obama authorized a confidential presidential directive to arm the Libyan rebels. More

APRIL 2011

April 22:  Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain visits Libya and meets with the opposition leaders. McCain urges more U.S. involvement. More

JUNE – AUG. 2011

June 13: Russian envoy Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, the Russian head of the World Chess Federation, visits Gadhafi and unsuccessfully tries to convince him to step down. More

Germany formally recognizes the Libyan National Transition Council, joining 12 other countries including Britain and France.

July 15: The U.S. formally recognizes the Libyan National Transition Council and pledges an unspecified amount of financial assistance. More

July 28: Libyan Gen. Abdul Fatah Younis is executed by Islamist Ahmed Abu Khatallah’s militia, allegedly at the orders of the Muslim Brotherhood. Younis, who previously served as Gadhafi's interior minister and special forces commander, defected in February 2011 to join the opposition as the rebel army commander. More

August 22: Libyan rebels invade Tripoli and demand Gadhafi's resignation. World leaders in support of the Libyan people include President Obama, French President Sarkozy, U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron, Italy’s Berlusconi and China.

August: The world’s leading oil companies fight to regain production control in oil-rich Libya. The media reports that France agreed to support the rebels in exchange for control of one-third of the country’s oil production. More

SEPT - OCT. 2011

September: France and Britain publicly dispute oil contracts with Libya’s National Transitional Council. More

Oct. 20: Gaddafi is killed by the rebels while trying to flee Sirte.


JUNE 2012 – SEPT. 2012

June: Chris Stevens is appointed U.S. ambassador to Libya

July 9:  Per the Senate Intelligence Committee, Stevens’ requests for 13 additional security agents from State Department headquarters goes unanswered.

Aug. 3: Per the Senate Intelligence Committee, the State Department fails to extend Stevens’ Defense Department-provided Site Security Team protective detail and lets the contract expire.

Aug. 16: Per the Senate Intelligence Committee, Stevens sends cable to the State Department raising additional security concerns. He relays information from a meeting with a CIA officer who described 10 Islamist militia and Al Qaeda training centers in Benghazi.

Sept. 5: Per the Senate Intelligence Committee: “AFRICOM produced a Theater Analysis Report entitled 'Libya: Extremism in Libya Past, Present and Future.' The report contains a map showing 'how [REDACTED] are actively exploiting the open operating environment in Libya.'" More

August 2012-Sept. 11:  Senate Intelligence Committee investigation finds no evidence that significant actions were taken by the State Department between Aug. 15, 2012, and Sept. 11, 2012 to improve  Stevens’ security. More

Sept. 11: The U.S. annex and diplomatic mission in Benghazi are attacked. Ambassador Stevens, Sean Smith, Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty all die.


Nov. 15: Four top intelligence officials testify before the Senate: James Clapper, director of National Intelligence; Matthew Olsen, National Counterterrorism Center head; Patrick Kennedy, under secretary of state for management; and Michael Morell, acting CIA director.


Dec. 5: The New York Times prints an article titled, “U.S. Approved Arms for Libya Rebels Fell Into Jihadis’ Hands” and quotes testimony from arms dealer Marc Turi. More

Dec. 6: Hillary Clinton confirms she will resign after the confirmation of her successor


Jan. 4: The CIA dismisses that the Benghazi attacks were the result of premeditated action. However, contradictory intelligence reports indicate that extremist groups in Libya were planning attacks during the months prior to the Sept. 11, 2012 attacks.

Letter from the Acting CIA Director Michael Morell to Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.): "The nature of the attacks suggested they did not involve significant pre-planning."

The Senate Intelligence Committee report states: "Although it may never be known with complete certainty, it is possible that the individuals and groups involved in the attacks had not planned on conducting those attacks until that day, meaning that specific tactical warning would have been highly unlikely. However, intelligence reports made clear that extremist groups in eastern Libya, including Ansar al-Sharia, were not only running training camps there, but also plotting and carrying out attacks against U.S. and Western interests in the months prior to the attacks in Benghazi.” More

Jan. 23: Hillary Clinton testifies before House and Senate Committees. Famously responds, “What difference, at this point, does it make?” when asked about U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice’s talking points.

Feb. 1: Clinton officially resigns as secretary of state. John Kerry is sworn in.

Feb. 7: Defense Secretary Leon Panetta testifies before the Senate Armed Services Committee. He says the president deferred to him and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey to “do whatever you need to do to be able to protect our people there.” Panetta says neither he nor Dempsey spoke to Clinton the night of the attack. More

March 9: U.N. Security Council Investigation finds Qatar and UAE provided weapons and ammunition to Libya.

“According to the Panel’s investigation, while Qatar and the United Arab Emirates provided weapons and ammunition, they submitted notifications under paragraph 4 of resolution 1973 (2011), pertaining to the provision of military aircraft and humanitarian aid, and at no stage submitted notifications of any transfers of arms or ammunition. The Panel contacted Qatar and the United Arab Emirates to request further information regarding the transfers that they made and to afford them an opportunity to inform the Committee and the Panel about the exact nature of their deliveries. While Qatar denied that it had ever transferred any materiel to the revolutionaries, the United Arab Emirates did not respond. The Panel therefore considers that these States never intended to utilize the provisions of the sanctions regime to deliver arms and ammunition and therefore provided this materiel to the Libyan opposition in breach of the arms embargo.” More


May 1: The FBI appeals to the public for information on men who were present on the grounds of the U.S. Special Mission in Benghazi the day it was attacked. More

May 8: The House Oversight Committee hears Benghazi testimony from Gregory Hicks, the State Department’s No. 2 official in Libya when the attack occurred. Also testifying are Mark Thompson, the deputy coordinator for operations at the State Department's Bureau of Counterterrorism, and Eric Nordstrom, who was in charge of U.S. security in Libya until July 2012. More

May 21: Armed Services Committee hears testimony from Garry Reid, deputy assistant secretary of defense for special operations; Major Gen. Darryl Roberson, joint staff vice director of operations. More


June 12: Michael Morell resigns as CIA deputy director

June 26:  Gen. Carter Ham, now retired, testifies before House Armed Services Committee. More

July 30: Citizens' Commission on Benghazi is officially formed

July 31:  CNN interviews militia leader Ahmed Abu Kattalah and publishes his testimony about the Benghazi attacks. More

Aug. 5:  Reuters breaks exclusive story that law enforcement agents have been directed to conceal how authorities launch and conduct criminal investigations of Americans. More

Aug. 6:   The U.S. formally files sealed charges against Ahmed Abu Khattalah, making him the first to be charged in connection to the Benghazi attack.


Dec. 28: A New York Times article is published that dismisses the involvement of terrorists and Al Qaeda in Benghazi: “Months of investigation by The New York Times, centered on extensive interviews with Libyans in Benghazi who had direct knowledge of the attack there and its context, turned up no evidence that Al Qaeda or other international terrorist groups had any role in the assault. The attack was led, instead, by fighters who had benefited directly from NATO’s extensive air power and logistics ‘support during the uprising against Colonel Qaddafi.” More

Dec. 31:  State Department officially declares Ahmed Abu Khattalah a terrorist and deemed his Islamist militia group, Ansar al-Sharia in Benghazi, a terrorist organization. More


Jan. 15: Senate Select Committee on Intelligence releases report saying Benghazi attack was preventable. More

Feb. 20: The Weekly Standard releases advance on article that senators think CIA’s then-No. 2 Michael Morrell lied about Benghazi. More

March 12: Bloomberg News poll shows 51 percent of voters don't believe Clinton when she says that she never saw requests for additional security before the attacks on the U.S. mission in Benghazi in 2011. More

April 2: Former Acting CIA Director Michael Morell testifies before House Intelligence Committee about Benghazi talking points. He responds to allegations that he misled Congress over the White House’s role in crafting the Sunday morning shows’ “talking points” about the attacks. He says, “We led people to think about this in not exactly the right way.” More

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