One advantage that the CIA team had over their inexperienced State Department security counterparts was that they knew the area like the back of their hand, especially their immediate surroundings. There were hundreds of planned routes to and from their base into the dusty and dangerous streets of Benghazi. They had picked up dozens of CIA sources in an effort to hunt down stray Chemical and Nuclear Weapons of Mass Destruction. Like Syria, Libya had its own dirty past, and the CIA had been conducting a very important mission to ensure that yellow cake (Uranium) didn’t make it onto the black market and into Extremists hands.

Five minutes later, at 2205, the men were fully briefed and loaded up in two of their up-armored indigenous vehicles all most likely fixed with stolen local plates, a common practice. To the casual observer they looked like regular Toyota Land Cruisers, but the initiated knew they were outfitted with the mods and armor that could survive a direct IED (Improvised Explosive Device) blast and small arms fire. Each vehicle was equipped with a special encrypted communications suite, heavy weapons platform, grenade launchers, and more. The TL (Team Leader), Ty and four others would go; they left one agent to man the radios–not much action but a very important job none-the-less.

Less than 30 minutes after the initial attack, two vehicles and six GRS agents sped off for the State Department compound. The drive lasted only a few minutes, but with smoke billowing from the State compound visible in the distance, it must have seemed an eternity.

They kept a tight defensive driving formation to the compound. Each agent goes through extensive offensive and defensive driving schools, and they would give most professional race drivers a run for their money. “In at six out at nine”, the front car called out on the inter-team radios as they entered the last round about. Less than two blocks away and they could practically taste the smell of burning tires, and the unmistakable smell of spent gunpowder in the air.

“It’s pure survival when dealing with large crowds and you have to set harsh consequences for any threatening behavior. Kill everyone who isn’t a friendly. Lighten up and you put yourself and your teammates at risk and the mob mentality takes over” – said a former GRS agent.

They arrived outside the compound without much of a fight, they set up their vehicles along the perimeter wall, locked the doors and phoned the agent in the TOC to let them know they were coming over the wall and to hold their fire. Why leave the vehicles? Because they had no choice, it was a hasty plan, and in reality the armored cars were virtually impenetrable left alone. Worst case, they would have to hump it through the streets back to their base. No time to waste: up and over the wall.

The events of 9/11/12 did not happen in a vacuum, something that Ambassador Chris Stevens no doubt would have reminded us if he had not been tragically killed during the attack. By September 2012, Libya was a ticking time bomb: no strong central government after Gadhafi’s fall; a large internal population of well-armed and experienced Islamic extremists who had been previously sending a steady stream of fighters to Iraq and Afghanistan for years; and scores of covert Special Operations and paramilitary units teeming throughout the country, disturbing the local hornets’ nest of terrorists. When the situation eventually exploded, a poorly defended outpost of the State Department would bear the full brunt of the blast. This is the story of the Benghazi tragedy.

We begin by outlining the dangers inherent within Libya before the fall of Gadhafi. Readers interested in a fuller history of Libya are invited to consult Appendix II at the end of the book.