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Libya attack was terrorism, but not planned in advance, officials says

National Counterterrorism Center Director Matthew Olsen said current evidence suggests the attack on a US consulate in Libya that killed four Americans was not planned. On Thursday, the White House described the incident as a "terrorist attack."

Obama clinton transfer of remains libya consulate september 14 2012Enlarge
US President Barack Obama and State Secretary Hillary Clinton return to their seats after speaking during the transfer of remains ceremony marking the return to the US of the remains of the four Americans killed in an attack this week in Benghazi, Libya, at the Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland on September 14, 2012. (JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)

There is no evidence that the attack on a US consulate in Benghazi, Libya that killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans was planned in advance, the US counterterrorism chief said Wednesday.

The "terrorist attack," as Olsen termed it, may have been carried out by people with connections to Al Qaeda, Reuters reported.

On Thursday, the White House also called the attack an act of terror. "It is self-evident that what happened in Benghazi was a terrorist attack,” press secretary Jay Carney said, according to The New York Times.

Speaking at a Senate hearing on Wednesday, National Counterterrorism Center Director Matthew Olsen said that the attack appears instead to have been an opportunistic act of terrorism in the midst of protests over a film denigrating Islam, CNN reported.

Olsen said it "appears that individuals who were certainly well armed seized on the opportunity presented as the events unfolded that evening and into the morning of September 12. We do know that a number of militants in [the] area, as I mentioned, are well armed and maintain those arms. What we don't have at this point is specific intelligence that there was a significant advanced planning or coordination for this attack," according to CNN.

Nonetheless, according to Yahoo News, Olsen and White House spokesman Jay Carney said that investigators are still looking into the possibility that the attack was planned, although no evidence to suggest that it was has currently been found.

Reuters noted that whether the attack was planned or not has been a point of argument between the Obama administration and "Republican lawmakers who say it bears the hallmarks of a premeditated assault."

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/africa/120919/libya-attack-was-terrorism-not-planned-advance-counterterrorism-