State College, Centre County - President Obama has condemned the killing of the four US citizens including US Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, but there's uncertainty of why the
attack took place. WTAJ went out and spoke with an expert on foreign relations to see what he thinks sparked the attack, and what the potential backlash could be.
Stevens is the 6th US Ambassador to die violently in the line of service. Now Tuesday's attacks have drawn attention to Libya nationally, and locally, to folks like Dr. Scott Bennett,a Political Science Professor at Penn State.
"The Consulate is seen as a symbol of the US, and seen as a symbol of US western decadence perhaps,[or] US western insults..."
Dr. Bennett is an expert on international conflict. He says it's important to remember this isn't an attack by Libya, the country, but by radicals in that country.
"The Libyan government and security forces tried to defend the US Embassy, and were simply overwhelmed by this mob..."
It's being reported that the attacks were fueled by anger over a film mocking Islam. A film that portrayed the prophet Mohammed as a child molester and killer among other things. We asked Bennett to give us an idea of how disrespectful that is to Libyans.
"It's worse than the burning of the American flag, it would be worse than insulting a figure like Jesus Christ or burning the Talmud in the US, it's taken much more seriously than that."
Stevens helped the rebel movement that overthrew Moammar Gadhafi last year. That took place in Benghazi, where much of Libya's uprising happened. Bennett says now, it's important to work with the Libyan government to make sure we make the right move.
"The key, even though it's very hard to be patient is to say the Libyan government is in fact a partner with us, in reconstructing Libya, we need to be very careful. We need to collect intelligence and try to go after the right people, as opposed to making things worse, by kneejerk retaliation. Retaliation may be called for, but it needs to be the right kind."
The last time an American Ambassador was killed by terrorists was in 1979. Adolph Dubs, he was kidnapped and killed in Afghanistan.