Local experts react to Libyan killings

(WXYZ) - It's still not clear how 20 radicals stormed into the U.S. consulate and began firing automatic weapons and rocket propelled grenades killing four Americans including U.S. ambassador Chris Stevens.

Melvyn Levitsky is an international policy and practice professor at University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and has worked as an ambassador in Bulgaria and Brazil.  He told 7 Action News being an ambassador can be a dangerous job.

"Our officers and diplomats are in areas of conflict and I think the important thing to keep in mind here is the government. The host government is always responsible for the security of diplomatic establishments by international law," said Levitsky.

Levitsky said something happened that allowed the mob to get too close to the embassy. "This doesn't mean the host government was responsible for these acts of violence," said Levitsky.

Some experts suspect a couple of reasons for the attack on the American consulate.

One includes a movie on YouTube that pokes fun at the prophet Mumhammad.

"I have a sense that there was some planning going on in this by some radical groups that wanted to go after the United States. They weren't just worked up by this YouTube video, but used it as the opportunity to inflict damage on the United States," said Levitsky.

Professor Juan Cole teaches Middle East and terrorism at U of M.  He suspects the video could be just part of the problem.

"It may also be related to the Abu Yahya al-Libi, an Al Qaeda leader, whose death was confirmed by the Al Qaeda number one now Ayman al-Zawahri," said Cole.

Cole recently took a trip to Libya where he described the mood as friendly and believes the number of radicals there is very small.

"This was the biggest thing that they've done but they're there and they're active but they're just not representative," said Cole. "I compare them to the American Ku Klux Klan.  They're there and they're dangerous but there's just not many of them."

Cole told 7 Action News Stevens was viewed as hero in Libya. Demonstrations are being held throughout the country in his honor.

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