This whole blasphemous-movie that may or may not have lead to the death of four Americans, has left me confused. I heard about the film that denounced Mohammed, and the rioting across the globe because of it, but when and why did it become a terrorist attack? I admit that Middle-East politics are generally confusing to me but the coverage of the unrest and the deaths has been so politicized, it all seems unclear. Which may only get worse in tonight’s presidential debate…
So here are the basic facts, sort of as they happened, before they become part of each candidates foreign policy agenda tonight. Or even if you don’t watch the debates and a babysitter mentions the film or the rioting at preschool pick up. Because Mom’s may not have enough time to read a paper from cover to cover like a babysitter would (or be able to stay awake through it because we don’t sleep as much) but that doesn’t mean you should be be left in the dark.
The initial timeline:
An Egyptian Man posts a trailer for a film he is making called The Innocence of Muslims where the Prophet Mohammad (who is revered by all Muslims) is portrayed to be a womanizing, child molester and religious fraud.
JULY AND AUGUST 2012
No one notices or cares.
SEPTEMBER 1-7, 2012
This commercial for a not-yet-made-film begins to get notice when it is promoted by Islamophobic Christians in the U.S., and then by Islamic activists in Egypt.
SEPTEMBER 11, 2012
The 11th anniversary of al Qaeda murdering thousands of innocent civilians on U.S. soil – and the day movie demonstrations in front of German, English and American consulates spring up in Egypt and Libya, and then continue across North Africa, Europe, South East Asian and into Australia.
Late in the evening the tragic deaths of the U.S. ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens, and three more Americans as well as ten Libyan security guards are confirmed, whose lives were taken when gunmen attacked the U.S. consulate in Benghazi and a safe house refuge later that night. News outlets say that this happened in the heat of anger over the anti-Muslim film.
SEPTEMBER 12, 2012
Headlines across the world note the worst intersection of Art and Religion and Politics resulting in multiple deaths while all sort of overlooking the fact that a film, that is not yet really a film – made by a non-American but in America without any American businesses involved – inflames more than one-third of the world, even though 99% of those demonstrating have not seen the film or even the pieced together clip of it because that would be against their religion to watch it. But this mostly unseen video, displayed only on YouTube.com, spawns impromptu protesting, rioting, and murder.
Republicans begin calling out the elephant in the room, saying that these murders had to have been preplanned. Mitt Romney’s campaign accuses the Obama administration of being less than forthcoming by strictly focusing on trailer for The Innocence of Muslims being the cause of the deadly attack.
SEPTEMBER 13–19, 2012
Secretary of State Hilary Clinton denounces the film as disgusting, but neither she nor anyone else at the State Department, including the White house spokesperson in his daily briefing, will say they have hard evidence that the murder of the four Americans was a planned terrorist attack – but that they are investigating with the Libyans.
Most news outlets do begin to mention that none of the original protests for the trailer were drawing numbers like those seen previously when Arab countries wanted to show unity. It is believed that the deadly attack in Libya was only participated in by about 50 people, which does not seem like an out of control mob that grows into a fatal lynching.
Late in the week evidence will show that the attack in Benghazi came in two separate waves and that the second was heavily armed with substantial weapons that could only be available to those of al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.
SEPTEMBER 19, 2012
President Obama states “What we do know is that the natural protests that arose because of the outrage over the video were used as an excuse by extremists to see if they can also directly harm U.S. interests.” From this comment forward, all White House messages refer to the deaths in Libya as the result of a terrorist attack.
SEPTEMBER 27, 2012
Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta confirms the Benghazi incident was a terrorist attack. “As we determined the details of what took place there, and how that attack took place, that it became clear that there were terrorists who had planned that attack.”
ALSO ON SEPTEMBER 27,2012
U.S. Central District Chief Magistrate Judge detains Nakoula Basseley Nakoula after officials say he violated his probation from a 2010 check fraud conviction. Nakoula, who has eight probation violations including lying to his probation officers and using aliases, has been discovered to be the creator of the 14-minute trailer for the film “Innocence of Muslims” posted on YouTube.
THE AFTERMATH OF THE TRAILER SO FAR:
A number of actors and workers on the film have come forward to say they were hired for a film titled “Desert Warrior” and there was no mention of Islam or Muhammad in the script. They say those references were dubbed in after filming was completed. Actress Cindy Lee Garcia has sued to get the trailer taken down, saying she was duped.
Although the Obama administration asked Google, YouTube’s parent, to take down the video, it can still be found on YouTube because the company has refused saying it does not violate its content standards.
Enraged Muslims have demanded punishment for Nakoula. (A Pakistani cabinet minister has offered a $100,000 bounty to anyone who kills him.) First Amendment advocates have defended Nakoula’s right to make the film while condemning its content. And federal officials likely will face criticism from those who say Nakoula’s free speech rights were trampled by his arrest on a probation violation.
THE AFTERMATH OF THE KILLING OF AMERICANS SO FAR:
Twenty days later, it seems the protests sprung up at the stirring of religious extremism both here and abroad, and that those heated feelings were further fanned to create a perfect cover for a terrorist group to go after American lives. In the process of which, dozens of lives were lost around the world.
You can say for sure that Democrats were diligent in gathering intel before accusing anyone of murder, particularly in a country that has repeatedly condemned this attack and anyone involved in it, as well as unilaterally tried to prove it’s allegiance to the U.S. But you can also say that Republicans were right, from the beginning, that this was a terrorist attack against the United States, most likely by al Qaeda. We shall see how all the information may actually shape each party’s Middle East foreign policy tonight. But for now, I’m off to preschool pick up, to look for a highly educated nanny to drop all this intel on!