Washington, DC, United States (4E) – Two Delta Force members came to the rescue of diplomats and staff of the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya and fought terrorists who attacked the complex on Sept. 11, 2012, according to a report of the Washington Times on Thursday.
The report contradicts earlier pronouncements by the White House and Pentagon that no U.S. troops were close enough to be deployed to the besieged consulate at the time. The administration’s version of what happened was that security contractors and two former NAVY Seals who were at the mission fought the attackers who killed U.S. ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens and his aide Sean Smith. The ex-Seals were also killed later in the attack.
The Washington Times report cited two unnamed sources directly familiar with the terrorist attack as saying that the two Delta Force members came from a mix of eight commandos from the elite U.S. counter-terrorism force and Green Berets stationed in the U.S. embassy in Tripoli.
Gregory Hicks, who was deputy chief of station in the Tripoli embassy, allegedly dispatched to Benghazi the two Delta Force members after they volunteered to be deployed to defend the remaining Americans in the consulate. Also dispatched were five other security people.
According to the report, the U.S. mission in Benghazi was attacked at 9:45 p.m. killing Stevens and Smith. Surviving diplomats and State Department security personnel retreated to the annex and engaged the attackers for eight hours.
The rescue team from Tripoli flew on a chartered plane to Benghazi arriving there at 1:15 a.m. The lack of transportation from Libyan militias delayed their travel to the consulate by four hours. Within 15 minutes of arriving at the annex facility, the seven-man team engaged the terrorists.
The two soldiers were later awarded medals for valor. The CIA also bestowed medals to consulate employees who killed 20 terrorists in defense of the mission and annex.
Former Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta in February told a congressional panel investigating the consulate attack that there were two U.S. military personnel who were involved in the Benghazi firefight but did not elaborate.
The Times’ sources said officials did not disclose the Delta soldiers’ involvement to keep the special operations forces’ presence in Libya secret and because there was no legal authority for the commandos to be there.