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Newly Released Emails From Day Of Benghazi Attack Show Link To Militants

Contradicting initial U.S. claims that the attack was a spontaneous movie-related protest. Meanwhile, one suspect has been killed, while another faces terrorism charges in Tunisia.

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The aftermath at the Benghazi consulate.
Mohammad Hannon, File / AP

The aftermath at the Benghazi consulate.

Recently surfaced emails indicate the State Department knew two hours after the Sept. 11 attack on a U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, that an Islamist militia group had claimed responsibility for it.

At the time, U.S. officials said they believed the attack — which killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other American workers — was a spontaneous protest against a U.S. filmmaker's offensive Muhammed movie that turned violent.

Intelligence agencies did not publicly confirm a militant link until Sept. 28.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton maintained Wednesday that the Facebook post referenced was not hard evidence that the Ansar Al-Sharia group was behind the attack.

"Posting something on Facebook is not in and of itself evidence," she said. "I think it just underscores how fluid the reporting was at the time and continued for some time to be."

Also on Wednesday, an Egyptian man known as Hazem was killed during a clash in Cairo. Hazem had just returned from Libya and was suspected of being part of the attack, according to the Associated Press.

Elsewhere, a Tunisian man named Ali Harzi was sent back to his country to face terrorism charges after being arrested in Turkey earlier this month.

Libyan officials made four arrests in the days after the attack, which was strongly condemned all over the world, especially in Benghazi, where the slain ambassador was a popular figure.

Two more emails released Wednesday shed light on how the State Department received information about the attack:

AP Photo / AP
AP Photo / AP