Breaking down Benghazi: Here's what happened at the embassy

Breaking Down Benghazi: Here's What Happened at the Embassy


One word has been in the news a lot: Benghazi.

To understand why, you need to know what happened on that day in 2012. Benghazi is Libya's second largest city and sits on the country's eastern coast.

SEE MORE:Benghazi is just the latest long, pricey government probe

It's the 11th of September.

Gunmen storm a U.S. compound in western Benghazi.The attack starts around 9:40 p.m. when the gunmen climb the compound's walls, open the gates and set fire to the buildings.

About 20 minutes later, a security agent, along with Ambassador Chris Stevens and Foreign Service Officer Steven Smith, try to escape. The security officer escapes but without Stevens or Smith.

At around 10:07 p.m., backup arrives from an annex about a mile away, and the security agents search for Stevens. They find Smith's body but not the ambassador's.

By 11:15 p.m., the security is bad enough that those who remain decide to evacuate to the nearby annex. Everyone is out by 11:30 p.m.

Shortly after they get to the annex, at around midnight, there's another attack. It's repelled, and backup from Tripoli arrives about five hours later.


Around 5:15 a.m. a third attack occurs. This time, it's mortar fire. Two security agents and former U.S. Navy SEALs Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty are killed defending the Annex from the roof. Two others are seriously wounded.

The attack is only 11 minutes, but the security personnel say it's time to leave. The first flies to Tripoli by 7:40 a.m. The second group is out by 10:00 a.m.

In the end, four people died. The U.S. scrubbed its diplomatic mission in Benghazi, and people wanted to know what happened.

The administration's initial response blamed the attack on a mob responding to an anti-Islam film.

"This is a response to a hateful and offensive video that was widely disseminated throughout the Arab and Muslim world. ... This is a spontaneous reaction to a video," Susan Rice said on MSNBC's "Meet The Press."

That turned out to be inaccurate. The mob was more likely a coordinated attack that Islamist terrorist group Ansar al-Sharia in Libya took part in. The investigation into the attack has been a saga, to say the least.

Ninereports from six different committees have attempted to explain what went wrong.
The House Select Committee on Benghazi even created another investigation into Hillary Clinton's private email server.

SEE MORE:Hillary Clinton to testify before Benghazi committee again

A move some say is politically motivated.

"But we put together a Benghazi special committee, a select committee. What are her numbers today?

Her numbers are dropping," Rep. Kevin McCarthy said on the "Sean Hannity Show."

On Thursday, Clinton will testify to the House Select Committee on Benghazi. It will be the committee's fourth public hearing.

See photos of the attacks and aftermath in Benghazi:

10 PHOTOS
Benghazi Attacks during and after
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Breaking down Benghazi: Here's what happened at the embassy
A car vehicle burns after it was set on fire inside the US consulate compound in Benghazi late on September 11, 2012. An armed mob protesting over a film they said offended Islam, attacked the US consulate in Benghazi and set fire to the building, killing one American, witnesses and officials said. AFP PHOTO (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/GettyImages)
A vehicle sits smoldering in flames after being set on fire inside the US consulate compound in Benghazi late on September 11, 2012. An armed mob protesting over a film they said offended Islam, attacked the US consulate in Benghazi and set fire to the building, killing one American, witnesses and officials said. AFP PHOTO (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/GettyImages)
An armed man waves his rifle as buildings and cars are engulfed in flames after being set on fire inside the US consulate compound in Benghazi late on September 11, 2012. An armed mob protesting over a film they said offended Islam, attacked the US consulate in Benghazi and set fire to the building, killing one American, witnesses and officials said. AFP PHOTO (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/GettyImages)
A vehicle and the surrounding area are engulfed in flames after it was set on fire inside the US consulate compound in Benghazi late on September 11, 2012. An armed mob protesting over a film they said offended Islam, attacked the US consulate in Benghazi and set fire to the building, killing one American, witnesses and officials said. AFP PHOTO (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/GettyImages)
(FILES) This file photo taken on September 11, 2012 shows a vehicle and the surrounding area engulfed in flames after it was set on fire inside the US mission compound in Benghazi. A long-awaited inquiry into a deadly militant attack on the US mission in the Libyan city of Benghazi late on December 18, 2012 slammed State Department security arrangements there as 'grossly inadequate.' But the months-long probe also found there had been 'no immediate, specific' intelligence of a threat against the mission, which was overrun on September 11 by dozens of heavily armed militants who killed four Americans. AFP PHOTO / FILES (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)
A picture shows the damage inside the burnt US consulate building in Benghazi on September 13, 2012, following an attack on the building late on September 11 in which the US ambassador to Libya and three other US nationals were killed. Libya said it has made arrests and opened a probe into the attack, amid speculation that Al-Qaeda rather than a frenzied mob was to blame. AFP PHOTO/GIANLUIGI GUERCIA (Photo credit should read GIANLUIGI GUERCIA/AFP/GettyImages)
A picture shows damage inside the burnt US consulate building in Benghazi on September 13, 2012, following an attack on the building late on September 11 in which the US ambassador to Libya and three other US nationals were killed. Libya said it has made arrests and opened a probe into the attack, amid speculation that Al-Qaeda rather than a frenzied mob was to blame. AFP PHOTO/GIANLUIGI GUERCIA (Photo credit should read GIANLUIGI GUERCIA/AFP/GettyImages)
A picture shows damage inside the burnt US consulate building in Benghazi on September 13, 2012, following an attack on the building late on September 11 in which the US ambassador to Libya and three other US nationals were killed. Libya said it has made arrests and opened a probe into the attack, amid speculation that Al-Qaeda rather than a frenzied mob was to blame. AFP PHOTO/GIANLUIGI GUERCIA (Photo credit should read GIANLUIGI GUERCIA/AFP/GettyImages)
An armchair and parasol float in the swimming pool of the US consulate in Benghazi on September 13, 2012, following an attack on the building late on September 11 in which the US ambassador to Libya and three other US nationals were killed. Libya said it has made arrests and opened a probe into the attack, amid speculation that Al-Qaeda rather than a frenzied mob was to blame. AFP PHOTO/GIANLUIGI GUERCIA (Photo credit should read GIANLUIGI GUERCIA/AFP/GettyImages)
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More coverage related to Clinton testifying on Benghazi:
Breaking down Benghazi: Here's what happened at the embassy
Why you keep seeing Hillary Clinton and Benghazi together
Benghazi is just the latest long, pricey government probe

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