Libyan president: 50 arrests in response to US Consulate attack

Updated
Head of the national Libyan assembly Mohammed Magarief attends a news conference in Tripoli September 12, 2012.
Head of the national Libyan assembly Mohammed Magarief attends a news conference in Tripoli September 12, 2012.
Ismail Zitouny / Reuters

Libyan President Mohammed Magarief said Sunday that about 50 people were arrested in connection with last week’s deadly attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi.

On CBS’ Face the Nation, he added that some of those suspects were linked to al-Qaeda and from places outside Libya, including Mali and Algeria.

“It was definitely planned by foreigners, by people who entered the country a few months ago, and they were planning criminal acts since their arrival,” Magarief said. 

The remarks about last week’s attack went against what U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice said Sunday. The American diplomat insisted the protests began spontaneously, and were in response to an anti-Islam video produced by a U.S. filmmaker. Only later, Rice said, were the protests hijacked by “individual clusters” of  extremists. 

She said on ABC’s This Week that there is no information which leads the U.S. to believe the attack was premeditated or pre-planned. 

The siege, Rice said, was the “direct result of a heinous and offensive video that was widely disseminated that the U.S. government had nothing to do with, which we have made clear is reprehensible and disgusting.”

When Magarief was asked if it was safe to send U.S. FBI investigators to Libya, he replied,  ”It may be better for them to stay away for a little while until we do what we have to do. … Any hasty action, I think, is not welcome.” The FBI is currently conducting an investigation, though it will not send agents to Libya until the situation is safer.

Susan Rice and Benghazi

Libyan president: 50 arrests in response to US Consulate attack

Updated