In his first visit to Benghazi in almost a year, Ambassador Stevens arrived on September 10th, with Sean Smith and two Diplomatic Security Ser­vice (DSS) agents. The only other Americans in the compound were three additional DSS personnel assigned there temporarily. In total, seven Americans with four local militia guards were left to promote diplomacy in one of the most hostile and unstable places on earth.

Stevens’s main mission was to promote diplomatic relations with local government officials and pass assessments of Libya’s fragile state of affairs back to Washington. He took one meeting in town on the 10th, but on the 11th, all his appointments were conducted inside the compound as a security measure. The following events are true to the best of our knowledge, and many of the details have never been disclosed before.

Around 7:40pm, the ambassador escorted a Turkish diplomat to the compound’s main gate. Shortly after, around 8pm, a team of UK diplomatic security professionals dropped off borrowed vehicles and equipment, as had been the arrangement since the UK had suspended diplomatic operations in June 2012 due to the increased threat level.

At 9pm, the ambassador and Sean Smith retired to their rooms for the night.

Suddenly: BOOM! A Rocket Propelled Grenade hit the front gate of the compound with thunderous force. The guard stationed at the main gate had long since fled the scene. He was attached to the Supreme Security Council (SSC). The SSC is a loose coalition of militia elements that are providing interim security in Libya. The guard would later tell local press that he drove away under instructions to avoid further civilian casualties.

At the time of the attack, the following personnel were in the compound:

• Ambassador Stevens (Ambassador’s Villa)

• Sean Smith (Ambassador’s Villa)