The U.S. ambassador and three other Americans killed last week in Libya died “in the course of a terrorist attack,” a senior U.S. intelligence official told lawmakers Wednesday.
Matthew Olsen, director of the National Counterterrorism Center, repeated earlier statements by the Obama administration that initial conclusions do not point to a planned assault. Instead, he said, “the facts that we have now indicate that this was an opportunistic attack,” in which heavily armed militants took advantage of an ongoing demonstration at the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi.
But Olsen went beyond those conclusions to say that the people involved in the violent assault appeared to have come from several militant groups, including localized extremists in eastern Libya as well as affiliates of al-Qaeda.
“The picture that is emerging is one where a number of different individuals were involved, so it’s not necessarily an either/or proposition,” Olsen told a hearing of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.