The attack on the US embassy that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens in Libya immediately became great fodder for conspiracy theorists. There were a million reasons to doubt the explanation of record, that a pathetically terrible 14-minute trailer for “The Innocence of Muslims” on YouTube had sparked a new anti-American version of the Arab Spring, and that the embassy attack erupted spontaneously as an expression of populist rage. First, the date—it just happened to fall on September 11 even though the film had been online since July? And what about the fact that there were no mild protests leading up to the attack, which was actually more of a surgical strike?
Now Libyan president Mohamed Magarief has joined the chorus of voices doubting this story line, telling NBC the movie trailer had “nothing to do with this attack.”
“Reaction should have been, if it was genuine, should have been six months earlier,” he continues, “So it was postponed until the 11th of September. They chose this date, 11th of September to carry a certain message.”
Magarief notes that the attack was highly organized and weaponized, “first with rocket-propelled grenades on the consulate, then with mortars at a safe house,” writes NBC.
Magarief concludes, “It’s a pre-planned act of terrorism.” And insists “these Libyans do not represent the Libyan people or Libyan population in any sense of the word,” and says the US is a “strong friend” to Libya who helped them oust their dictator, Gaddafi.
Of course, this can’t explain the mass protests and embassy attacks in the 20-something countries that followed the Libyan attack that killed Stevens. Or why a Pakistani government cabinet member placed a $100,000 bounty on the head of the “Innocence of Muslims” filmmaker.
Immediately following the attacks there was even some speculation that the film trailer had been produced by the terrorists who attacked the Libyan embassy as a propaganda tool to help spark outrage to justify its attack. We now know from interviews with actors who appeared in the film that this isn’t true, and that it was produced and directed by Americans.
Whether the film trailer helped galvanize some dormant rage throughout the Middle East after the Libyan attack is anyone’s guess. But it’s reassuring to think Magarief is right and the trailer had “nothing to do” with setting off the firestorm initially, if only because a piece of crap that bad and that lazily crafted should never get credit for sparking a revolution.