“And then as that unfolded, it seems to have been hijacked, let us say, by some individual clusters of extremists who came with heavier weapons. And it then evolved from there.”
Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has said in a statement the attack was revenge for the killing of the terror network’s deputy leader Sheikh Abu Yahya al-Libi in a drone strike in June, and called for more attacks on US targets.
US officials have already deployed counter-terrorism Marine units to Libya and Yemen and stationed two destroyers off the North African coast.
Panetta told reporters before arriving in Tokyo that with a substantial force already deployed in the region and now boosted by extra Marine units, the military has the ability to respond as necessary to protect American diplomats.
“We do have a major presence in the region,” he said.
“Having said that we’ve enhanced that with FAST (Fleet Anti-Terrorism Security Team) teams and others so that if they are requested, they can respond more quickly” – Panetta.
“Having said that we’ve enhanced that with FAST (Fleet Anti-Terrorism Security Team) teams and others so that if they are requested, they can respond more quickly.”
Sudanese Foreign Minister Ali Karti on Saturday flatly rejected a US request to send special forces to protect the Khartoum embassy, the official SUNA news agency said, quoting his office.
Hours later, US officials announced Washington would evacuate all non-essential staff and family members from Sudan and Tunisia, and warned US citizens against travel to the two countries.
The US embassy in Yemen, meanwhile, suspended all consular services for two weeks, the mission said on its website, after four people were killed in violent anti-American protests in Sanaa.