Arrests over US embassy attack


ANKARA – Two suspects in the attack on the American consulate in Benghazi in which the US ambassador to Libya and three others were killed were being questioned yesterday following their arrest late on Wednesday at Istanbul airport.

The suspects, identified as Tunisians, were detained as they attempted to enter the country with fake passports, Turkish television station Kanal D said. Police were questioning them and it was not clear whether they might be extradited to Libya or the US. The Turkish authorities were not available for comment.

The attack, in which US ambassador Christopher Stevens, a diplomatic colleague and two private security guards who were former US navy special forces personnel died, coincided with the anniversary of the September 11th, 2001, attacks on the US. It also coincided with a wave of protests in Muslim countries over an anti-Islam film made in the US.

The response of the Obama administration has been seized upon by conservatives in the US who are seeking to make it an election issue. It will almost certainly feature in next Thursday’s vice-presidential debate between US vice-president Joe Biden and his challenger, Paul Ryan, which will include a section on foreign policy.

The administration initially tied the attack to a mob action provoked by the film, then later characterised the incident as a terrorist attack, with an al-Qaeda element to it.

Conservatives claim the administration has been trying to use the killing of Osama bin Laden as evidence that al-Qaeda, if not wholly defeated, has been severely curtailed.

They claim that US president Barack Obama is seeking during the campaign to minimise the threat still posed to the US by al-Qaeda as a reason why he should be re-elected. – (Agencies)