During the rebellion against Gaddafi and in the aftermath of his death, Libya and North Africa became a staging ground for a dizzying array of operations by SpecOps, paramilitary, and international private military contractors working for everyone from European nations to multibillion-dollar oil corporations.

At the same time, militant Islamic groups began taking advantage of the power vacuum across North Africa and consolidated their strength in places like Benghazi instead of sending their home-grown fighters abroad to Afghanistan and elsewhere. These groups were keeping JSOC in business. Meanwhile CIA operatives fanned out across Libya searching for Gaddafi’s stores of chemical weapons and yellow cake uranium.

Amid this caldron of (often violent) covert activity, diplomats like Ambassador Chris Stevens were in-country attempting to practice statecraft and establish relationships with the new leaders of Libya.

This chapter aims to provide a sense of the scale and scope of the “secret war” raging in Libya that created the conditions for three of the major players mentioned above-State Department diplomats, CIA and JSOC covert operators, and militant Islamist groups-to collide on 9/11/12.