U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told reporters Thursday that the attack on a U.S. consulate in the Libyan city of Benghazi was a blatant act of terror, but that the group behind the violence was not yet identified.
“A group of terrorists obviously conducted that attack on the consulate and against our individuals,” Panetta said during a briefing at the Pentagon. “What terrorists were involved, I think, still remains to be determined by the investigation.”
The Secretary noted that al Qaida continues to operate in the region, but that he had no evidence that the notorious group was involved.
The description of the Benghazi attack has been a source of friction. UN Secretary Susan Rice initially suggested that it was spontaneous, a characterization rejected by Libyan President Mohammaed Magarief, who instead insisted that it was a well-coordinated effort.
Officials within the Obama administration ultimately announced that the attack was terrorism and the White House now confirmed this week that that is Obama’s view as well.
The attacks took place on September 11th and claimed the lives of four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens.