Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade reacted to the news that the U.S. Ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens, and three other Americans were killed in an attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya:
"I'm saddened and angered by this news. U.S. diplomats are working around the world to protect and promote U.S. interests. In the case of Ambassador Stevens, he played a critical role in helping Libyans rid themselves of a tyrant," said Royce.
The exact circumstances of the deaths of these Americans have not been confirmed. Their deaths came as an angry mob set the U.S. consulate in Libya on fire. This protest was in connection to a similar incident in Egypt, where the walls of the U.S. embassy in Cairo were breached, the U.S. flag torn down and replaced with the flag of al-Qaeda. The protests were over a film deemed offensive to Islam.
"Nothing can ever justify such violence. Those responsible for these deaths, and those who have incited this violence, must pay a price."
In recent weeks, Libya has seen a wave of extremist violence, including the destruction of two major shrines related to Sufi Islam; destroyed by Salafist militants.
"These attacks show yet again how dangerous and volatile many areas of the world are. Libya hasn't been in the news much since Gaddafi's fall, but it is struggling with militant forces that also threaten the United States. Unfortunately U.S. Embassy's are easy targets for anti-American militants, requiring an impressive measure of dedication and courage from U.S. officials serving overseas," concluded Royce.
Ambassador Stevens was born and raised in California, and has practiced international trade law before he joined the State Department in 1991. Fluent in Arabic, he had held other diplomatic posts in the region, and had has worked closely with Libyans throughout their transition.