A diplomatic security agent testified Monday that after militants stormed the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens told him ‘when I die, you need to pick up my gun and keep fighting’.
Agent Scott Wickland was the government’s first witness in a trial of Ahmed Abu Khattala, a Libyan suspected of orchestrating the attack that killed the ambassador and three other Americans in 2012.
Wickland took the stand and gave a harrowing account of how he tried without success to save the ambassador and Sean Patrick Smith, a State Department information management officer.
Agent Scott Wickland (L) revealed U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens (R) last words which were: ‘When I die, you need to pick up my gun and keep fighting’
The smoke from weapons’ fire and explosions was so thick and black that it blinded the three. They dropped to the floor and crawled on their bellies, gasping for air.
Wickland said he was trying to lead them to a bathroom where he could close the door and open a window.
‘I was breathing through the last centimeter of air on the ground,’ Wickland said. ‘I’m yelling, ‘Come on. We can make it. We’re going to the bathroom.’ Within 8 meters, they disappeared.’
Wickland kept yelling for them. He was feeling around on the floor through the toxic smoke, which made the lighted room darker than night.
A vehicle (R) and the surround buildings burn after they were set on fire inside the US consulate compound in Benghazi late on September 11, 2012
‘To this day, I don’t even know where they went. I was right next to them, and then that’s it,’ Wickland said. ‘I had my hand on Ambassador Stevens. I could hear Sean shuffling.’
Twelve jurors and three alternates assembled for the opening day of one of the most significant terrorism prosecutions in recent years.
Abu Khattala is being tried in U.S. District Court, a civilian court, at a time when the Trump administration has said terror suspects are better sent to the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
The 2012 Benghazi attack was against two United States government facilities in Libya by members of the Islamic militant group Ansar al-Sharia.
An armed man waves his rifle as buildings and cars are engulfed in flames after being set on fire inside the US consulate compound in Benghazi