Of YouTube and RPGs

A fascinating conflagration of noise and politics arose following the attacks on the US consulates and embassies in Libya, Egypt and Yemen. What does it all mean?

The Libyan attacks, which resulted in the deaths of 4 USA citizens including the ambassador and two Marines, received the most coverage. However, there hasn't been much coverage of how the attack was conducted:

Captain Fathi al-Obeidi, whose special operations unit was ordered by Libya's authorities to meet an eight-man force at Benghazi airport, said that after his men and the U.S. squad had found the American survivors who had evacuated the blazing consulate, the ostensibly secret location in an isolated villa came under an intense and highly accurate mortar barrage.
"I really believe that this attack was planned," he said [...] "The accuracy with which the mortars hit us was too good for any regular revolutionaries."
First, American citizens should be grateful to Captain al-Obeidi who by all accounts conducted the evacuation and protection of the consulate in an examplary fashion. But mortars are not standard equipment of the aggrieved citizen, and the ability to put mortar fire on a specific target in a city is not exactly handed out willy-nilly. The people behind these mortars were trained and knew exactly what they wanted to do.

Separately, it seems that the USA Embassy in Cairo was not as well protected as it might have been:

Ambassador to Egypt Anne Patterson "did not permit U.S. Marine guards to carry live ammunition," according to multiple reports on U.S. Marine Corps blogs spotted by Nightwatch. "She neutralized any U.S. military capability that was dedicated to preserve her life and protect the US Embassy."
If true, and I emphasise the if, it seems that the lessons of the 1983 Beirut Marine barracks bombing (which killed 241 Marines) were not learned:
The sentries at the gate were operating under rules of engagement which made it very difficult to respond quickly to the truck. Sentries were ordered to keep their weapons at condition four (no magazine inserted and no rounds in the chamber).
By contrast, read the account of Marines Jonathan Yale and Jordan Haeter defending an outpost in Ramadi, Iraq:
While Iraqi police fled, Haerter and Yale had never flinched and never stopped firing as the Mercedes truck -- the same model used in the Beirut bombing -- sped directly toward them.
Without their steadfastness, the truck would probably have penetrated the compound before it exploded, and 50 or more Marines and Iraqis would have been killed. The incident happened in just six seconds.

The individual threads of intelligence seems to weaving a tapestry that talks of a pre-planned Al-Qaeda attack in Libya. One has to wonder at how the Libyan and Egyptian populaces managed to co-ordinate an attack on Tuesday, when Friday is the traditional day that the imams and mullahs at the mosque denounce the infidel act of the week. Who was riling up the masses?

Separately, I'm amazed that there hasn't been a suicide bombing or shooting at YouTube headquarters yet ,although their takedown of the film today may have helped. What's fascinating is the back story of the Coptic Christians who appear to be behind the inflammatory film. I wouldn't go as far as the supine US Embassy in Cairo in denouncing the use of free speech to offend Muslims:

The Embassy of the United States in Cairo condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims – as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions. Today, the 11th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, Americans are honoring our patriots and those who serve our nation as the fitting response to the enemies of democracy. Respect for religious beliefs is a cornerstone of American democracy. We firmly reject the actions by those who abuse the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of others
but one has to wonder whether the Copts have finally managed to get some payback for the dreadful persecution and killings that have plagued them over the past few years.

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