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Obama Vows Justice

President Obama condemned the killings, promised to bring the assailants to justice and ordered tighter security at all American diplomatic installations. The administration also sent 50 Marines to the Libyan capital, Tripoli, to help with security at the American Embassy there, ordered all nonemergency personnel to leave Libya and warned Americans not to travel there. A senior defense official said that the Pentagon sent two warships toward the Libyan coast as a precaution.

“These four Americans stood up for freedom and human dignity,” Mr. Obama said in a televised statement
from the White House Rose Garden with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. “Make no mistake, we will work with the Libyan government to bring to justice the killers who attacked our people.”

In Tripoli, Libyan leaders also vowed to track down the attackers and stressed their unity with Washington.

Yussef Magariaf, president of the newly elected Libyan National Congress, offered “an apology to the United States and the Arab people, if not the whole world, for what happened.” He pledged new measures to ensure the security of foreign diplomats and companies. “We together with the United States government are on the same side, standing in a united front in the face of these murderous outlaws.”

Obama administration officials and regional officials scrambled to sort out conflicting reports about the attack and the motivation of the attackers. A senior Obama administration officials told reporters during a conference call that “it was clearly a complex attack,” but offered no details.

 Col. Wolfgang Pusztai, who until early August was Austria’s defense attaché to Libya and visited the country every month, said in an e-mail that he believed the attack was “deliberately planned and executed” by about a core group of 30 to 40 assailants who were “well trained and organized.”  But he said the reports from some terrorism experts that the attack may be linked to the recent death in drone strikes of senior Qaeda leaders, including Abu Yahya al-Libi, were unsupported.

A translated version of the video that set off the uprising arrived first in Egypt before reaching the rest of the Islamic world. Its author, whose identity is now a mystery, devoted the video’s prologue to caricatured depictions of Egyptian Muslims abusing Egyptian Coptic Christians while Egyptian police officers stood by. It was publicized last week by an American Coptic Christian activist, Morris Sadek, well known here for his scathing attacks on Islam.

Mr. Sadek promoted the video in tandem with a declaration by Terry Jones — a Florida pastor best known for burning the Koran and promoting what he called “International Judge Muhammad Day” on Sept. 11.

The video began attracting attention in the Egyptian news media, including the broadcast of offensive scenes on Egyptian television last week. At that point, American diplomats in Cairo informed the State Department of the festering outrage in the days before the Sept. 11 anniversary, said a person briefed on their concerns. But officials in Washington declined to address or disavow the video, this person said.

By late afternoon Tuesday, hundreds had gathered in mostly peaceful protest outside the United States Embassy here, overseen by a large contingent of Egyptian security forces. But around 6 p.m., after the end of the workday and television news coverage of the event, the crowd began to swell, including a group of rowdy young soccer fans.

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