Answers to the top 10 questions asked about Benghazi

Updated

Political drama ensued on Thursday morning when Hillary Clinton began her testimony before the Republican-led House committee investigating the 2012 attack that killed four Americans in Benghazi, Libya.

A lot has happened in the three years since the attack, and the stakes are high for the former secretary of state and Democratic presidential front-runner.

RELATED: Live blog of Hillary Clinton’s Benghazi testimony

Here are answers to the top 10 most-asked questions about Benghazi on Google:

1. What happened in Benghazi?

On Sept. 11, 2012, armed Islamist militants scaled a wall of a U.S. diplomatic outpost and launched an organized attack at night. The compound was not reinforced and attackers consequently opened a gate and set fire to the building.

U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens and State Department communications specialist Sean Smith were found dead of smoke inhalation in one building. A second wave of attacks resulted in the death of two CIA security contractors: Glenn Doherty and Tyrone Woods.

Initially, the attack was thought to be the result of an angry mob responding to a video released online in the U.S. that mocked Islam and the Prophet Mohammed. Later, it was deemed as a terrorist attack. Ahmed Abut Khattala, an extremist militia leader in Libya, was apprehended in 2014 for his role in the violence and is awaiting trial in the U.S.

2. Where is Benghazi?

Benghazi is the second largest city in Libya, located in the northern part of the country. It’s approximately 120 square miles and has a population of about 632,000 people.

3. What is the Benghazi issue?

Much of the controversy stems from Republicans who argue the Obama administration ignored warning signs about the attack before it happened, pointing to cables from Stevens and his staff requesting more security. They also insist more could have been done to curb the severity during the attack and have accused the White House of deceiving the country afterward by initially suggesting the attack was something other than terrorism.

RELATED: Quiz: How much do you know about Benghazi?

The political blowback has been huge. As a result, Susan Rice, then-U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, withdrew her name from being considered as secretary of state. Questions have since been raised about Clinton’s use of a private email server, and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s bid to become House speaker was derailed after the GOPer tied the Republican-led House Benghazi Committee to a drop in Clinton’s polling numbers for the presidential race.

4. When is Hillary Clinton testifying on Benghazi?

Today: Oct. 22, 2015

5. How many Benghazi hearings will there be?

Clinton is only scheduled to testify on Thursday. It’s the fourth hearing the Select Committee on Benghazi has held since it was formed in May 2014. No additional hearings have been scheduled, but that, of course, could change.

6. How many Benghazi investigations have there been?

So far, there have been eight separate committees — six in the House and two in the Senate — investigating the attack. Additionally, there has been one non-partisan agency probe into the Benghazi attack by the State Department’s Accountability Review board.

7. What really happened in Benghazi?

Here’s a timeline of exactly what we know. 

Meanwhile, a Senate Intelligence Committee report released in 2014 found the attack could have been prevented. While it concluded that intelligence analysts inaccurately cited a protest at the consulate as the reason for the attack, the report also maintained Rice did not mislead the public when she used those talking points.

A separate independent Accountability Review Board, commissioned by Clinton, questioned State Department leadership but blamed just four mid-level employees for a lack of leadership when it came to security issues. (Republicans have questioned the independence of the review board.)

8. When did Benghazi happen?

The attacks began at night on Sept. 11, 2012, and ended in the early hours of Sept. 12.

9. Who died in Benghazi?

Four Americans: U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens, State Department communications specialist Sean Smith, as well as CIA security contractors Glenn Doherty and Tyrone Woods.

10. Why is Hillary Clinton blamed for Benghazi? 

Clinton was secretary of state at the time of the attacks. She has taken responsibility for not adequately protecting U.S. personnel in Benghazi, but has rebutted Republican claims that the Obama administration was intentionally trying to mislead the American people about the cause of the attacks. Clinton has also asserted she was not involved in any decisions related to security in Benghazi leading up to the attacks.

Some Democrats and even some Republicans have portrayed the latest hearing as a partisan effort designed to tank Clinton’s 2016 presidential aspirations.

Benghazi and Hillary Clinton

Answers to the top 10 questions asked about Benghazi

Updated