(NEW YORK) — The White House now accepts the likelihood that Islamic militant forces were behind the deaths of Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, two weeks ago.
During a special United Nations meeting in New York City Wednesday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton acknowledged that an al Qaeda offshoot from North Africa could be tied to the attack.
It’s the first tactic admission from the Obama administration that a terrorist group, in this case, Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, was behind the assault, which the White House initially blamed on a demonstration against an anti-Islam film produced in the U.S. that had turned violent.
Republicans have heaped criticism on the administration for failing to see an al Qaeda connection from the onset, alleging that the president was worried that it would hurt him in the polls.
At the U.N., Clinton said “terrorists are seeking to extend their reach and their networks in multiple directions. And they are working with other violent extremists to undermine the democratic transitions under way in North Africa, as we tragically saw in Benghazi.”
The secretary of state reiterated that the U.S. intelligence and other agencies are working with the Libyan government and other agencies to learn more about the consulate attack in Benghazi.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Catherine E. Shoichet, Max Blau and Steve Almasy, CNN
Sheena McKenzie, CNN
Lorenzo D'Agostino and Hilary Clarke, CNN