Local Homeland Security Expert Weighs in on Libya Attack

By Kim Johnson

Published 09/12 2012 06:43PM

Updated 09/13 2012 09:44AM

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 News) - President Barack Obama has condemned attacks that killed the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three American members of his staff.

The attacks occurred Tuesday night in the eastern city of Benghazi by protesters angry over a film that ridiculed Islam's Prophet Muhammad, according to Libya officials. Ambassador Chris Stevens was killed when he and a group of embassy employees went to the consulate to try to evacuate staff as the building came under attack by a mob guns and rocket propelled grenades.

Homeland security expert Tom Panuzio tells ABC 4 the attack in Libya is a major event for security efforts abroad.

“You have a U.S. ambassador for the first time since 1979 killed trying to promote freedom in the Middle East,” he said. Panuzio said the killing could be a set back for security in the Middle East specifically since it happened in Libya-- a country in transition after the fall of its dictator Moammar Gadhafi. “It's almost as if it's a test case for the Middle East. If they can promote successful democracy in Libya, that will spread to other Middle East countries.”

Officials announced the U.S. is sending 50 marines to Libya to reinforce security at U.S. diplomatic facilities-- which Panuzio is necessary to secure the area. “One thing we have to do is protect us interests abroad and that includes putting marines which by the way are stationed right off the coast- to go and identify who did this to secure the premises and make sure we have a functioning us embassy.”

Panuzio hopes those troops are successful in their mission to avoid further military members from deploying.

“If we don't have peace in the Middle East there’s a much greater likelihood that troops from Utah would have to go serve in the event of a crisis,” he said.

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