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Widow of American teacher forgives attackers who killed her husband in Libya

By Michael Martinez, CNN
updated 10:18 PM EST, Fri December 20, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Widow Anita Smith forgives the attackers who killed her husband
  • Teacher Ronnie Smith, 33, was gunned down while jogging in Benghazi this month
  • "I do love them and I forgive them," she says of husband's killers
  • "It may sound crazy. It's God's spirit that's putting this inside me," she adds

(CNN) -- A widow says she forgives the attackers in Libya who gunned down her husband earlier this month as he went for a morning jog outside his home in Benghazi.

Ronnie Smith, 33, was a chemistry teacher from Austin, Texas, who was working for more than a year in the International School Benghazi when four unidentified assailants in a black Jeep fatally shot him December 5.

"I just envision the black Jeep driving up to him and I don't know their faces. I just want them to know that God loves them and can forgive them for this," Anita Smith tells CNN's Anderson Cooper in an interview.

Emotion broke her voice as she spoke.

"I don't know them. That's how I honestly feel. It may sound crazy. It's God's spirit that's putting this inside me," she added.

Smith said she didn't feel any anger or want any revenge against the killers of her husband.

"I just really want them to know that I do love them and I forgive them, and Ronnie would want this, and I hope and pray that our son, Hosea, would believe this," she said.

"Yeah, they took away my husband. I loved my husband. But it's got to be God's spirit that's pushing me to show them that this is what God wants them to see," she said.

Smith also wrote an open letter to the Libyan people. She and her husband traveled to Libya "because we saw the suffering of the Libyan people, but we also saw your hope, and we wanted to partner with you to build a better future," she wrote.

To the attackers, she wrote: "I love you and I forgive you."

To the Libyan people, she said, "We came to bless you, but you have blessed us much more. Thank you."

Benghazi was the cradle of Libya's 2011 revolution that ousted leader Moammar Gadhafi's regime but since then, the new government is struggling to control armed groups in the country.

Libya's second-largest city, Benghazi also is where militants attacked a U.S. diplomatic mission in September 2012, killing four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens. The United States blames the Islamist militant group Ansar al-Sharia for the attack.

"I hear people speaking with hate, anger and blame over Ronnie's death, but that's not what Ronnie would want," Smith wrote of her husband. "I want all of you -- all of the people of Libya -- to know I am praying for the peace and prosperity of Libya. May Ronnie's blood, shed on Libyan soil, encourage peace and reconciliation between the Libyan people and God."

CNN's Chuck Hadad contributed to this report.

Watch Anderson Cooper 360° weeknights 8pm ET. For the latest from AC360° click here.

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