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More details emerge on U.S. ambassador's last moments

By Arwa Damon, CNN
updated 7:59 PM EDT, Mon September 17, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Local official says he warned U.S. diplomats about security in the area
  • "The situation is frightening, it scares us," the official says
  • He says it was not the first time he warned foreigners about the worsening security

Benghazi, Libya (CNN) -- Three days before the deadly assault on the United States consulate in Libya, a local security official says he met with American diplomats in the city and warned them about deteriorating security.

Jamal Mabrouk, a member of the February 17th Brigade, told CNN that he and a battalion commander had a meeting about the economy and security.

He said they told the diplomats that the security situation wasn't good for international business.

"The situation is frightening, it scares us," Mabrouk said they told the U.S. officials. He did not say how they responded.

Attackers set the U.S. Consulate compound in Benghazi, Libya, on fire on September 11, 2012. The U.S. ambassador and three other U.S. nationals were killed during the attack. The Obama administration initially blamed a mob inflamed by a U.S.-produced movie that mocked Islam and its Prophet Mohammed, but later said the storming of the consulate appears to have been a terrorist attack. View photos of protesters storming the U.S. Embassy buildings in 2012. Attackers set the U.S. Consulate compound in Benghazi, Libya, on fire on September 11, 2012. The U.S. ambassador and three other U.S. nationals were killed during the attack. The Obama administration initially blamed a mob inflamed by a U.S.-produced movie that mocked Islam and its Prophet Mohammed, but later said the storming of the consulate appears to have been a terrorist attack. View photos of protesters storming the U.S. Embassy buildings in 2012.
Attack on the U.S. Consulate in Libya
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Photos: Attack on U.S. Consulate in Libya Photos: Attack on U.S. Consulate in Libya
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Mabrouk said it was not the first time he has warned foreigners about the worsening security situation in the face of the growing presence of armed jihadist groups in the Benghazi area.

The main building in the compound is in charred ruins.

Disagreement over how attack began

The suite where the body of the ambassador was found was protected by a large door with steel bars; the windows had steel bars.

His body was recovered after looters broke into the room. It appears his security detail left him in the room while they tried to deal with the attack.

There are numerous questions about what happened at the consulate where protesters had gathered to demonstrate against the film "Innocence of Muslims," which reportedly was made in California by a filmmaker whose identity is unclear.

Chief among the questions is what happened to U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, who went missing during the attack.

The State Department has not released details about how Stevens died, though numerous media reports have said the ambassador was taken from the consulate to the Benghazi medical center by locals.

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He arrived at the hospital, according to the reports, unresponsive and covered in soot from the fire. A doctor was unable to revive him and declared him dead, the reports said.

According to one of the Libyan security guards who was stationed at one of the gates armed with only a radio, the assault began simultaneously from three directions.

Heavy machine guns and rocket -propelled grenades were used, according to the guard. He said masked men threatened to kill him at gunpoint for 'protecting the infidels. He declined to appear on camera for fear of repercussions.

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The February 17th Brigade -- a militia connected to the government but not part of Libya's armed forces -- was closely involved in the rescue of the American staff trapped after the attack Tuesday night.

After the consulate was attacked and set on fire, a number of Americans escaped to a safe-house in another part of the city. But that came under attack too.

Mabrouk said he received a call from an official in Tripoli, who said he had been called by a "terrified" American in Benghazi.

The official was at the safe-house. Mabrouk says the Brigade asked the Americans if they needed help -- but were told that while the situation was dangerous, it was under control.

A few hours later, Mabrouk said he received another call from Tripoli about the arrival of a U.S. team at Benghazi airport that needed transport into the city.

He met the seven Americans, who were heavily armed but not in military uniform, on the runway and provided them with an armed escort, he said.

As soon as the two vehicles carrying the seven Americans arrived at the safe house, they came under intense attack -- including a volley of grenades and machine-gun fire. The assailants then fled.

The Libyan government has vowed to bring the perpetrators of the attack to justice. But on a visit to the heavily-damaged consulate, the country's president said Libya expected help form its friends in the international community.

Asked whether the government was not capable of controlling extremist groups, he responded "You are not far from the truth."

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