The U.S. Embassy in Cairo was warned there could be trouble, official says

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Story highlights

  • An intelligence cable was sent 48 hours before the protests broke out, an official says
  • The cable did not warn of any specific threat because none was known, the official says
  • The cable was not sent to U.S. personnel in Libya, the official says

Concerned about the reaction to an anti-Muslim film that was gaining attention online, the U.S. intelligence community sent a cable to the embassy in Cairo, Egypt, warning of the concern, a U.S. official told CNN.

The intelligence cable was sent 48 hours before the protests in Cairo and in Benghazi, Libya, the U.S. official said.

The cable did not warn of any specific threat, the official said. It warned instead about the existence of a portion of the movie being posted on the Internet and the fact that it was gaining attention. A seven-minute portion of the movie aired on an Egyptian TV talk show, according to a Department of Homeland Security/FBI memo obtained by CNN on Thursday.

The cable was not sent to the embassy in Tripoli, Libya, or the consulate in Benghazi, where protests over the film ended in a deadly attack. U.S. officials have said there was no intelligence ahead of the attack in Benghazi, which intelligence officials still believe was not planned.

The White House spokesman, Jay Carney, said Friday there was no "actionable intelligence" indicating an attack was being planned.

An Egyptian riot police officer fires tear gas towards protesters during clashes near the US embassy in Cairo on September 13, 2012.

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There are hundreds if not thousands of cables sent each day, the official said, and there was no specific threat attached to this one, because a specific threat was not known.